Fireworks will bring a grin to your face
Uncle Pete is the famous brother we never had. We have used him as an example of dangerous acts that our kids need to avoid. And maybe even to hide the actual identity of the person who actually did the deed.
KIDS. DO NOT TRY THESE AT HOME (or even away from home)
I've tried to collect the various Uncle Pete stories. They aren't in any particular order, and most times I'm not sure who first brought up the story. But some are funny, and some are interesting and some are both.
I have also taken the liberty of editing some of the parts and pieces, but the stories are there pretty much intact.

BB gun targets

Seems Jeremy gave his nephew Andrew a box Magic Tricks as a Christmas present. Andrew opened it up, and asked Jeremy to help him master some of the tricks. Among the tricks was a miniature guillotine.
Uncle Pete picked it up and decided to play with it. No sense in reading the directions, he was an adult, and this was a childs toy. He set it on top of a box, stuck his pointy finger in the slot, raised his other hand high, and was about to smack the blade down.
Just before he did so, Andrew's Mom shouted, "Uncle Pete! Maybe you should try it with a baby carrot first!"
"Pashaw!" Uncle Pete exclaimed. "I know what I'm doing."
But due to family pressure, he reluctantly replaced his finger with a baby carrot.
Then proceeded with his trick.
Down came the blade.
And the two halves of the baby carrot flew to either end of the room.

I remember one time Pete was starting one of those table top hibachi's with a Bic lighter, after the hibachi started he left the lighter on the table under the hibachi ( how hot can it get?) -- went inside and came back out only to find a couple of small fragments of the Bic laying on the ground -- kind of glad that we missed it. But it probably was pretty cool.

I do remember one time when we were "camping" down by the lake and had buried potatoes in the coal overnight. Dug them out with a stick and noticed that the coals were still a little warm, so thought it would be a good idea to get the fire going again. Pete grabbed the gas can from by the boat and thought it would be a good idea to slosh some gas on it because the fire wasn't starting...
Works fine on the forward swing because the gas fills the nozzle... unfortunately, as the can goes back, the nozzle sucks in air, and the flame that is traveling up the stream. Makes a very interesting bang... Doesn't do the gas can any good at all though.

Then there was the time out back in the alley at Roseland. Dad had been sanding something, so we had a big bag of nice fine sawdust. Thought it would be fun to toss it on the fire in the garbage can... Very impressive.

I remember a time my older brother, Pete, and I had to rake up the leaves in the back yard before my dad got home from work. Well, we made this huge pile, and decided burning them would be fun. Any 50's era Vrtis male will tell you a good fire starts with gasoline. But, we were smart, we lightly doused the leaves with gas, then poured a line away from the leaves. To light it from about 10 feet away. It took us a few minutes to find the matches, which allowed the gasoline to begin to evaporate. When we lit our "fuse", the fire ran right to the leaves like we figured, but the fumes in the air created a mini explosion. After we picked ourselves up off the lawn, and my mom was done yellin at us, we proceeded to rerake the leaves into a nice pile before my dad got home, as originally tasked to do.
I distinctly remember my dad having to hold his sides while laughing when the story came out at the dinner table.
The moral of this story,,,,never listen to your big brother.

Did anybody ever tell you of the time Uncle Pete tried to burn out a big stack of brush out at the cottage??? He figured it'd start a lot faster if he threw some gasoline on it before he lit it.
Then he figured that he should try to light it near the center of the pile.
So he took a few steps into the pile.
Threw on a match.
And watched as the flames shot up all around him.
Fortunately, he wasn't holding the gas can at the time.
And gasoline burns up real fast.
And he was still young enough to RUN LIKE HELL.

Pete's birthday...
Good question. I would guess he was born on the feast of St. Peter the apostle, and died on the feast of Sts. Peter & Paul. Anyone got a calendar?
Let's see... he must have been the firstborn because he took the fall for a lot of us. That would make Chuck the second oldest... Then, Ray moved out in...? and Pete's job was done...

How did Pete die...
There were a lot of causes of the death of poor Uncle Pete. Actually, I've lost count of how many times he has died because of his misguided deeds. Children, don't try these at home... Once he died falling off the cottage roof and I think once from a tree, and falling from the back of a pick-up, and blowing up tree stumps. And the day he fed the bear.

Didn't he put his eye out with a bb gun too??? Oh yea.. there was the time he threw a big handful of sawdust on a fire in the alley...

Don't forget the fireworks - I never knew you could set them all off at once, oh and throwing the spray can into the fire... lost some eyebrows that day. I think Mom and Dad never celebrated Pete's birthday cause it was a bad combination Pete and fire- maybe that is why his birthday is so unclear to us. I think it was the 12th of Never.

... and there are a few that Uncle Pete WOULD HAVE done if he had survived his childhood. Adventures with military explosives and machine guns come to mind :-) and I'm sure there are chain saw, motor cycle.... all kinda advenutres he'd be having.

Boy.. Jim's off and Bob's speechless, Pete has no body... Is this a family or what?

This is the start of the Uncle Pete Saga, as written by Jimmy Vrtis (Jim's middle child, or Jim's Grandson depending on your point of reference.) For those of you who know Uncle Pete, pass it along to the VBB. My dad is off line for a while, his computer in en route to Andrew, alison (the computer) may go back to his house.


To this day I do not know if Uncle Pete is alive or dead but I do know that he existed. Growing up, Uncle Pete always did what his parents didn't want him to do for example, he tied a rock to his foot, hammered a light bulb, and also went in a forest.

When growing up his parents didn't want him to cut his own hair. Well he did.... When his dad saw him he said he said he looked like a molted duck. One time dad told Pete to give the dog a shower and he did... but he used maple syrup for soap. The dog was stuck in the bathtub for three days.

When it was winter his parents told Pete not to mess with the computer! Well he did anyways! He was building a snowman and he used the $800 MONITOR for the head of a snowman and he used the extension cords for the hands. He also used the mouse for the nose.

Once when Uncle Pete and his family were in Michigan his mom said "don't go anywhere without telling us." So right when he was at the cottage he picked up a rock and a string and was running to the lake. When a semi just barely missed him, he just picked up the rock and ran to the boat. He could hear his mom yelling "Stop right there are Mr.!" He just ignored her. Pete just hopped in the boat and rowed to the deepest part he could find on the lake. His mom said "Don't you dare drown yourself!" He put the rock over the water and his mom yelled "Pete overboard!" She swam as fast as a cheetah on land. She dived under and untied the rope so fast her hands were a blur. When she came up she was panting really hard, and you know what Pete said? "Can I do that again?"!

One foggy morning Pete was bored. He decided to ask his dad if he wanted to play twister, dad said no, I am busy fixing the hole in the wall. Well since you are so bored make breakfast for yourself. All right Pete said. He took three cereal boxes (they were Frosted Flakes, Reese Puffs, and Puffs and put them on a paper plate. And then poured milk in a pan and added the cereal, he turned the gas on high. He then burned all his cereal, then the milk he said "yum the power of milk"! His dad said to make some pancakes for me and your mom when he turned on the stove all the gas was out. Pete said all the gas is out I used it for my cereal.

Well now you have to help me fix the hole in the wall. I will hold the nail and you hammer the nail. So Pete jumped up because the nail was so high and hit the wall and made an even bigger hole. Dad said "I'll give you one more chance". Pete said can " I have a chair to stand on dad". "Alright" said Dad. So he went to stand on the chair, he swung the hammer behind his head and wham, he hit a light bulb. His dad saw him, he was getting himself electrocuted his hair was standing up like it was bad hair day! And he looked like an x-ray of a person. Pete's dad sprinted to the light switch and turned off the light. Pete fell right on his back. Pete's mom came down from the attic and said "Not Again".

When Pete got older he had six brothers and one sister Chuck, Nick, Mikey, Robert, James, Mary and Ray. Right when they got to the cottage they went to bed. When one Pete woke up his siblings woke up six hours later. He said to them "Sit at the table I'll make my specialty." So he took three kinds of cereal and milk and put them in a pan and bam the cereal burned, the milk bubbled and he put the pan on the table and told them to dig in. After eight servings they were finally stuffed. Pete decided to show them around the cottage and then the lake. Last he was going to show them the forest. He showed them the animals, the trees and after two hours they were lost. Pete said look there is a cave lets go to sleep in that! So they went to bed. When Pete woke up he saw the kids running and said "where are you going?", then a bear jumped in front of the cave. And that is the last time they saw Pete. After three days the kids found their way to the cottage. Their dad said, "we were so worried about you!!!. Where have you been?" In the forest," James said. "Where's Pete," Mom said. "I don't know," Mikey replied, with a wide grin spreading across his face. Chuck answered, "Last we knew he was being chased by a big black bear." Mom and Dad started to sob uncountably. And this is why no one knows if Pete is alive or dead.

Yeah I remember the Prometheus moth I think it carried Pete away-- did it not??

Uncle Pete was over visiting us yesterday. And as was his custom, he was down by the dock trying to hit the fish on the head with the lure. So.. on the last cast of the evening, he finally hits a small pike. The pike, as is normal for them, heads directly to the lily pads (you know.. those stupid terrible pretty things that Joe intentionally planted!)... Anyway, the pike deftly weaves his way in and out of foot thick lily pad stems. He ends up being stuck too far out to reach with the net.

Uncle Pete, being the thoughtful, intelligent, resourceful person that he is, did not stoop to using the portable phone to call somebody up at the house for help. Nor did he use the laptop that was on the board to IM somebody for help. In his wisdom, he decides that the great white fisherman can handle this on his own. All he needed to do was swing the pontoon boat around and that would put him within reach of the pike... Which is still using the opportunity to knit himself a scarf for the winter by winding the line around the lily pads...

Now.. pulling an 18 foot pontoon boat around a 90 degree turn with one hand holding a fishing pole is not a simple matter. But.. our Uncle Pete finally gets it lined up.. And even remembers to tie it back to the dock so that it doesn't float away. He's felling pretty proud of himself about now... Just get the net, lean over, and pull fish and a mess of lily pads up and everything will be cool.

For those of you who have not seen our pontoon boat, it has a "sun deck" built up in the back, over the motor... So, Uncle Pete was actually about 4-5 feet off the surface of the water when he was leaning over to net the fish. So he had to hold on to the little railing that ran around the back as he leaned WAY over to net the fish.

Well, one thing that Uncle Pete forgot (for a while at least) was that the little railing is attached to a cover. And this cover is designed to be opened by somebody standing in the boat, so it tilts up and OUT. Uncle Pete remembered this as he leaned over far enough so that his weight caused the cover to open, which in turn shifted even more of this center of gravity over air (which is not a good support material). There is NEVER a camera around when you need it, because the sight of Uncle Pete doing a two pi off the back of the pontoon would surely have won the America's funniest home video award.

He also learned that you cannot fold a fishing pole in half without breaking it... And that glasses are impossible to locate at the bottom of 2 feet of muck.

I thought that you all might enjoy this latest Uncle Pete episode.

And here is "the rest of the story".....

When last we left Uncle Pete, he was in 4 feet of water and 3 feet of muck. At the end of 80 feet of dock, along side a pontoon boat. The ladder that would help him climb onto the dock or the pontoon boat is nicely folded and out of the way.. on the deck of the pontoon boat. If you have never had the pleasure of trying to haul yourself up by your arms, you will not appreciate his feeling at the moment.

Once he gets out, he heads up to the house to get his spare pair of glasses, so he can at least see a little, and get some assistance from Mel and Michee (who do offer to help.. about a half hour later when they can stop laughing long enough to get up off the floor...).

So, they all go back down to the dock, and turn the pontoon boat around (so that the front.. which is has a nice convenient door in the railing) so that Uncle Pete can retrieve the net that is still floating in the lily pads.

Whereupon they notice some lily pads still moving... Seems the pike was too smart for himself and had woven the scarf with him inside.... So, Uncle Pete takes the net and scoops up the pike and a half ton of lily pad parts. Removes the hook from the fish, and sets him free.

I never knew that a pike could laugh like that!

Not NEARLY as exciting as Nick's but it is typical Uncle Pete stuff.

One of Pete's birthday presents was a canoe - and yes, it fits on top of the MINI and I will send pictures soon.

The day he bought it and loaded on to the MINI for the ride home, he also picked up a few things at the hardware story too including sand. Did anybody mention that sand is HEAVY? When unloading everything at home ... he pulled a muscle, the result being that he had to wait 2 weeks before he could get the canoe wet...

Impatiently, we waited till the day before Fathers Day and Amanda consented to being bowman on a 12 mile stretch of the James River, so we staged the cars (river was too high to paddle upstream!) and loaded the canoe with fishing gear ... decided NOT to risk the camera (because it looked like rain, not because we were afraid of flipping the canoe). I also had a new 'canoe chair' I wanted Pete to try out. The first three miles are flat water, nice current so it was a good float... realized quickly that the river was so muddy we'd have to snag a fish, he'd never SEE the lure to bite it so... we practiced casting...

We found a nice, small island and decided to explore it, skip flat stones, etc (for a 20year old kid, Amanda's still pretty darn good at skipping stones, and a lot of fun on the canoe trip). We re-load the canoe, bow down stream, Amanda already aboard, Pete shoves off (like I've done 100's of times, right Ray?) step into the canoe, nearly trip over the new "canoe chair" and sit down on a fishing pole!! (nope, missed the lure) we wobble, take in about 2 inches of water but stay afloat, so I suggest to Amanda that we reverse course, get back to the island and empty the water ...

we begin to do this, get perpendicular to the current and ... Somehow, Pete managed to lean into the current, tipping the boat again, dumping Amanda (completely submerged), me, him, fishing poles, tackle box, water and lunch into very muddy water.... (I highly recommend PLANO tackle boxes, they FLOAT and as a result we still had the car keys!!!!!).

I realized that it was 'only' waist deep - as did Amanda, shortly before Pete could "rescue" her and the three of us pulled the mostly submerged canoe back to the shore to re-load (anybody want a "canoe chair"!!!) I couldn't convince Amanda that we should try to find the fishing poles in three feet of muddy water with our feet - for some reason she figgered we'd find the lure's first and that was not a good idea...

the rest of the trip was uneventful (but very fun!) and we were mostly dry by the time we hit the downstream takeout.

Amanda thought she would be funny, so for Father's Day she bought me a Spider Man fishing pole!!! Which I will faithfully use whenever no one is looking.

This was the first picnic I've been to since Uncle Pete became famous... so I had to spend some time explaining who Uncle Pete was. Aunt Marge was sure there were no Pete's in the family...

Uncle Bill did pass along some more stories. Including one about Uncle Tom and his buddies. Uncle Tom worked at a gas station part time (owned by one of the relatives) and used to hang out there with a bunch of his friends. One day they decided to topple planters.... At least in that part of town around Berwyn in Chicago, a lot of the "brownstone" houses had big brick porches, with heavy planters on the ends.. So they picked one street, and every 4th house was "yours".. and they ran up the steps, dumped the planter on the way up, and then down, and dumped the planter on that side of the porch. Then went back to the gas station to listen to the police on the police radio there.... Again our family lucked out, and we do not have Uncles in jail.

The other story he talked about was what they would do to drivers along Cermak. Two guys would get a dummy, then wait on the side of the street until a car came along. Once it started getting close, they would dash across the street with the dummy between them. When they were in front of the car, they would drop the dummy, and continue their dash. Uncle Bill thought it was strange that some of the drivers where not happy about the chance to test their brakes and their heart all at the same time... ~:-)

Please explain to any of the young ones who might have read the above that this is NOT recommended behavior for people who want to live a long and quiet life....