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I grew up in a very strange family. It was fun.

November 8, 2016


I’m going to take the family for a trip up to the Maryland/Delaware region of the Eastern Shore to see my brothers and sisters.   I’m packing up the family and we’re heading up the interstate and across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to see my siblings.
Yes, I am 57 years old and am as excited as a kid with an all-day pass at Disney World.  I haven’t had much time in the past years to see them, and it’s a treat when we squeeze into my sister Gwen’s home and try to talk all at once.  I come from a family of ten kids, so joyful noise has always been the routine, and it will continue.  There will be a small army of us squeezed in the dining room, elbowing each other for mashed potatoes and another great anecdote.  Gwen’s husband Danny keeps as much order as he can, but he understands the Zockoll clan.

We’re half Russian, so we talk a lot.

We’re half German, so we eat a lot.

…well, the Russian side eats a lot,too.

It’s true that every family has quirks and funny stories.  Mine is no exception. As much as we’ll continue to bring out Thanksgiving leftovers, we’ll haul out stories of yesteryear.  We’ll talk a lot, way into the wee hours of the morning, because some of my family memories are classic.

For example…

When I was in the third grade, we were all sitting around the table after dinner.  My mom walks in with an oversized cream pie. “This pie got spoiled because the freezer quit this afternoon, so we can’t eat it,” she announced.  “I don’t want to waste it. Who wants a pie in the face?”

My 11 year old sister Gwen jumped up.  “I do!”


My mom let her have it right in the kisser.  It took ten minutes to restore order. We were all over the floor. Mom just creamed Gwen!  

Then there was the time my mom made a batch of fudge that wouldn’t set.  “I can’t take this to the Cub Scout banquet,” she said, with the fudge running like Silly Putty through her hands.  “Who wants to eat some?”  I raised my hand and -so help me – my mom threw a perfect strike right on the place mat in front of me.  BLAUAP.  A wad of fudge splattered out, and I gobbled it gleefully.  All my siblings were yelling for a toss, and so here’s my mom throwing food across the dining room like a high school food fight.  The screaming and laughing went on for an hour.

Then I remember the time my brother Brent once set up an entire HO scale train assembled in a hole in the ceiling above our bedroom (it was an old house), fully functional, with a whole town spread out on a plywood board.  We would stand on the top bunk and pop our head through the ceiling and have a great time as engineers. My brother Brent also organized an all-household table hockey tournament, which is where I got my first interest in radio broadcasting as a play-by-play announcer.  By the way, Brian won the tournament, but Brock claims he cheated.

Then I recall the day that Bruce and Brent got hold of some glow-in-the-dark paint and drew blood-dripping monsters all over the interior of the doors of my sisters’ bedroom.  When the lights went off, we heard a series of blood-curdling screams.  When my mom race upstairs, threw open up the door and turned on the lights, the paint naturally disappeared, so my sisters’ complaints about monsters in the room didn’t go very far with Mom.  It was a great night but none of us got much sleep so they washed it off the next day.

One time we decided to become cooks.  When Mom was gone on an all-day shopping trip, we dove into the pantry and assembled stuff on the countertop to make deep-fried doughnuts. We almost burned the house down.  Besides, the doughnuts were so greasy that even the toddlers in the family were breaking out in zits.

I remember hanging out the back of our camper pickup while my mom was driving us boys back from a talent contest where we won a stack of vinyl records.  We didn’t really like the albums, and unknown to Mom, we decided to have some fun with them. While Mom was doing sixty miles per hour on Interstate 13, Brock held onto my belt while I leaned over the edge of the back of the pickup and ground an LP record into the highway beneath the car to see if we could actually grind a record into a square.  I am not sure why we wanted to do this and I now realize the incredible danger I put myself in … but yes, we did carve the record into a square.

Many more memories are flooding back, but now it’s time for me to be a responsible teacher and get ready for class.

…but when I get to Delaware in two weeks, maturity goes out the window.


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  1. Ligia permalink

    I have been looking for my friend who lived in Hershey , are you her? You moved suddenly and it broke my heart as your family was kind to me and my family. We were in the same class in school. Ligia

    • Well, Ligia, since I’m a male, I don’t think I would be the one. 🙂 I hope you do find your friend, though.

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