Uncle Bob's, Vol. 1

October 9, 2017



[Originally written May 12, 2006]


Those of you from Jamestown are more than familiar with "Uncle Bob's", but for those of you not graced with the privilege of being born in the armpit of America, allow me to explain.

"Uncle Bob's" is a standing term in Jamestown, NY.  It was used to refer to any type of "secret" gathering of high schoolers, where Milwaukee's Best ("the Beast"), wine coolers, and experimental drugs were going to be the guests of honor, somewhere in the woods of Western New York. There were several different "Uncle Bob's" locations, but if you got the call to go, you knew which one to show up at. 

The term "Uncle Bob" came from some brilliant kids in the 1960s who needed a way to communicate there was a killer party going down, without their parent's knowing where.


Example: Johnny is standing in the kitchen, on the phone with Suzie. Johnny's mom is in the kitchen, baking apple pie. Johnny simply says "Hey Suzie, want to meet up at Uncle Bob's tonight?" This way, Johnny can say "Hey ma, I'm pickin Suzie up and we're going to her Uncle Bob's....I won't be home too late..." and all was well with the world.

On any given Friday night, the journey to Uncle Bob's usually began with a master plan: one kid would have the desire to throw down, and word was spread by mouth (there was no email then...) as to which location the festivities would unfold at. Some selections were "out by Rt. 17", "at the end of Chadwick", and "on the North side", among others. 

Then, said kid would be in charge of finding someone's big brother or sister to purchase enough Beast to go around once or twice. Experimental drugs were solely at the discretion of the attendees, but were almost always expected and/or assumed participants. 

Once the Beast was secured, the endless phone tree began of "who's gonna drive". This was always a problem for my particular "crew", as one friend had no car, one friend was a raging alcoholic who would NEVER be available to drive home, my dad was known as "Captain Crime" so the chances of me, my car, and its contents being caught were far greater.

Finally, once all plans had come together, the pilgrimage to the selected spot began. This usually entailed parking about 5-6 blocks away from the final destination, loading up backpacks, coolers, and kayaks with beer, blankets, cigarettes, lighters, lighter fluid, and occassionally, a bottle of water, should there be an emergency (we didn't really plan that well....). 

After slinging these items on our backs like hard-core hikers on their way to the top of Kilimanjaro, the trip into the woods was underway, and usually started with a long treck through some type of field or thicket. Once the actual wooded area came into view, there were no trails, no footpaths, nothing that would give the slightest to where the final gathering would take place.  The only thing guiding us was the unfleeting desire to get plastered and make out with half the group, and that desire usually got us all to the same place at the same time. Must be some cosmic force that travels by osmosis through horny teenager's minds. Somehow, we were all on the same page.

The veteran campers would immediately spring into action, collecting dry wood and stones for the fire pit. Makeshift stools were fashioned from rotting stumps and moldy coolers left there from Uncle Bob's past, and surrounded the pit like a tribal council. At the sound of the first cracked beer (warm, of course), a guitar would begin to strum, and drums would be pummelled like in a 6-year-old's pots-n-pans parade.

Some things at Uncle Bob's were inevitable. They were:

1. A fight (guy on guy)

2. Another fight (girl on guy)

3. Someone passing out and missing the fire by inches.

4. Incredible laughter when certain someone's got caught making out.

No one cared, really. No one cared about anything, except being alive and hanging out and not getting caught and breaking rules and spreading gossip and sexual experimentation and the first beer buzz and clothes that smelled like campfire. 

After about 4-5 hours, the crowd started to thin. We had to be conscious of not all walking out together, as suspicion would surely be raidsed if 20 teenagers came stumbling out of a field, some half naked, some screaming "mommy", some chanting the theme to Sesame Street. 

Once we got back to the car, another ritual ensued...spraying your hair and clothing down with anything you could find: perfume, hairspray, Deep Woods Off!, leftover juice, in order to disguise the beer/cigs/campfire smell.  I swear, some of our parents had the nose of a German Shepard. If you were lucky enough, you could spend the night at the friend's house who had the "cool" parents, who wouldn't mind if you broke a lamp or threw a muddy shoe at the wall when you finally made it in. But for those of us that had to report back to Captain Crime, the stench-cleansing was not only necessary, but a matter of life and death.

So that's the background of Uncle Bob's....my next post will further explain why it is I might miss something like that....just another one of life's funny messages I literally ran into yesterday. Stay tuned....

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