The Packeys were not a typical family, at least in the sense of being ordinary. They played cards almost constantly.
Easygoing captures their way of life and I shall demonstrate:
(Scene: The Packey kitchen, about five in the evening. Mrs. Packey is busy preparing supper when the door opens and Brother John enter.)
Mrs. Packey: You’re home early, Jack. How come?
Brother John: I lost my job.
Mrs. Packey: Oh, you did? Well, sit down and rest. Supper will be ready soon.”
Notice that Mrs. Packey did not ask why brother John had lost his job and that he was not the least bit hesitant in telling her that he had lost it, probably because he knew that no questions would be asked and that by the next morning it would be forgotten that he had even had a job.
The family seemed to issue out of Wisconsin. I don’t know whether all three children were born there or not. Where the good people went from Wisconsin and how they got to Des Moines I don’t know.
What they liked, I did not, and vice versa. After a little time, I realized that I was going to have to start liking what they liked. I learned several card games, with the exceptions of cribbage and pinochle and of course bridge; then I broadened my tastes in respect to a few other things.
If the Packeys were to move away suddenly, probably the only thing I would be left with would be a rather sick heart and a long face. I learn that the family name was originally Klepacki, not Packey. Klepac is the Polish infinitive meaning “to hammer” or to “flatten,” and that the first Klepackis doubtless had something to do with hammers, either making them or using them in some way.
They were a more or less wandering family, but it also seemed, whether I had been there or not, that that had given to each of their temporary homes an air of being lived in. By that I mean making it seem as if they had lived there for a long time, enjoying one another’s company and life in general.
In my association with them, I heard quite a few names which I call “People I Always Hear About But Never See.” Perhaps the most prominent name was ‘Doris,” Jack’s girl friend. whenever I was at the Packeys and Jack was not there, he was seeing Doris. “Jack is with Doris tonight” . . . “I think jack is seeing Doris.”
Another name was Jurtz. He was a German sea captain who figured somewhere in Mrs. Packey’s ancestry. Another name was ‘Grandpa Hall.’ the only thing I learned about him was that he could play cribbage, and that he wasn’t a gradfather at all. Then came a group called ‘the Rholfs, and they lived someone up north. Then, there was my friend’s sister, JoAnn. I had seen her picture but the idea that I could really converse with such an attractive girl, gave me gosh bumps.
I did meet her and that’s why I’m writing this little essay. It’s because when she heard that I want to be a writer, she asked me to write something about her family.
I realized that morning how very content every one was in the Packey family. Everything was in complete harmony. On this morning, Jo Ann was writing a note to each of her brothers telling them to do the dishes when they got up, and upon finishing the notes, she asked for “Daddy Joe” to write his signature at the bottom, to make it more authentic. Bring a practical person, he saw no reason for this, but consented.
Over the whole thing there hovered what the Polish language so beautifully describes with the word jednosc.
I can only put in what I have seen of them and what I knew about them. Jo Ann loved her family; I merely enjoyed them. I had an obligation to a lady so no matter how pallid the result, with good intent I finish it. Enough has been said.