A Voice From the Past

August 30, 2011

Yesterday, Jenny sent me an email full of ghost voices. (After she wrote this lovely thing here.)

If you know Jenny, it isn’t all that surprising that she found an oddity, but this one stopped me.

With her superhuman internet search powers, she found an obscure interview that my great uncle PJ did in the 1970s about his parade float business.

It has been decades since I’ve heard my uncle speak. He passed only five years ago, but he suffered from a form of Lou Gehrig’s disease for years before that, and honestly I had forgotten.

It’s amazing how quickly we change and fade away.

But this took me straight back.

Thank you, Jenny.


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  • Reply Rachel August 30, 2011 at 8:47 am

    What a truly amazing gift! And how cool is your uncle?!

  • Reply barchbo August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

    What a lovely gift!

    Is that a painting of PJ?

    • Laura Harrison Mayes
      Reply Laura August 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

      That is a painting of PJ in his younger years. It’s in my office now… as I often attempt to channel a few ounces of his creativity.

  • Reply tish (Laura's sister) August 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much Jenny (and Laura for posting)! This made my day. I love my Uncle PJ also and he was sick for most of my life after high school so I haven’t seen him this healthy, articulate, and capable since I was a kid! It was so amazing to watch this. Thank you for finding it! I miss PJ.

  • Reply rebecca August 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    loved watching this and hearing your uncle talk about his work. great footage.

  • Reply barchbo August 31, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I love that I could see so much of young PJ in older PJ. He was a handsome devil!

  • Reply Lise August 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I just found your page from Jenny’s post about the auction. I enjoyed looking at the pictures of all the float props. I would love to see a video of the auction; it’d be so cool. Just watched the interview – the wizard behind the magic!!

    I’m inspired to go catch a parade (Kennywood’s Fall Fantasy, here in Pittsburgh)

    and I have to catch up on reading your blog. This worldwide web is a lot of fun.

  • Reply Angela September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

    This made me tear up. My step-father passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease eight months ago. It is an especially sad way to die. I am sorry for your loss and glad that you are still finding memories and ways to celebrate his life.

  • Reply Margie September 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Your uncle seems like a great character, and Jenny is clearly a superhero for finding such a treasure. I just came across old letter and pictures that I had never seen before from my relatives, and boy is that unexpected voice from the past a wonderful thing to have.

  • Reply zulma September 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    What talent…making a living from what he dreamed up. What an inspiration in your own family…

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  • Reply Padrino November 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I just saw this video of P.J. and it made me think he must have had a kabillion stories just as interesting to share had Carolyn stuck around to ask. Or if any of us had. Good for Jenny for finding it.

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