In 2009 I spent some time digging around in my parent's attic, finding all kinds
of old family photos, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. The more I dug, the
more I started discovering that I've got some pretty wacky ancestors. Heck,
I have some pretty wacky modern day family members.

Anyways, I started a little project. I drew portraits of some of the more
interesting ancestors and family members I've come across in these old
albums, and also a few of my relatives who are still kicking.

Tadeusz Prelewicz
This first fellow, Tadeusz Prelewicz, is my great-great-great-uncle on my
mother's side of the family.

From what I've been able to piece together, it seems that Uncle Tadeusz
made headlines towards the very end of the 19th century by declaring that
he intended to fly in a balloon from Poland to the North Pole. People thought
he was nuts. The fact that a group of Swedish guys attempted something
similar just a year before and never returned (they were assumed dead at
the time) didn't help his case. Despite jokes and criticism, he did embark on
his mission.

Another article reveals that, much like the Swedes before him, he failed
miserably. No news came from him for quite some time and eventually he
was presumed to have perished. Nobody was sure what had become of
him until several years later when a group of Belgians exploring the Congo
happened upon a tattered balloon that appeared to have crashed into the
jungle. After further exploration, they discovered a man fitting the
description of Tadeusz living amongst a group of native pygmies.

Jane McAndrew
I don't have a ton of information on Jane McAndrew, who was my
great-great aunt on my father's side. I know she lived in Philadelphia. I've
found a few old photographs, and one old letter. The letter is very short:

Baby grand was pinched by a dick, someone spilled the beans. Bring the
coffin varnish tonight, I'll bring the heavy sugar. No applesauce, no beating
your gums. We've got to know our onions from now on.

The letter is signed "S"

A bootlegger? I sure think so.

Charles McAndrew

Charles McAndrew was Jane McAndrew's brother, making him my
great-great uncle.

He was a professional hockey player for the Philadelphia Arrows, which
the internet tells me was actually Philly's first pro hockey team, way back in
the days of the Canadian-American Hockey League. It's an absolute delight
to learn that I had a pro hockey player in the family! I grew up playing hockey
and as a little kid I of course assumed I'd grow up to be the next Wayne
Gretzky (and a cartoonist in the off season).

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Chuck had a very long career. I have an
obituary clipping saying that he was hit and killed by a speeding car in 1928.
According to wikipedia, the Arrows had only just formed in 1927.

Charles is smoking a pipe in every single one of the handful of photos I've
found of him, even the one picture of him all suited up, posing for a shot on
the ice.

Zach Prelewicz
This is my cousin, Zach. I don't have any neat dusty old photos or
newspaper clippings about him. He's current generation! He's a pretty neat
kid, but I will give you a few interesting bits of information about him:

I'm pretty certain he owns more PEZ dispensers than anyone else in New
York state. He once swallowed a live goldfish on a dare, and then puked it
up 15 seconds later. It was still alive! His favorite movie is The Island of Dr.
(1996 version).

Max McAndrew
Max McAndrew is another great-great uncle on my father's side of the
family. That generation of McAndrew's seems to have been pretty neat!

I know Max wrote fiction and had at least one novel published in the 40's
(I think), "The Piano Murders." I can't seem to find anything anything about
him or the book online, so my guess is that it's been out of print for quite a
while. I don't have a copy of the book, but I'm told that there is one
somewhere in my grandmother's house.

Aside from some photos and a clipping of a brief but nice review of The
Piano Murders from a newspaper (not sure which paper it's from), I do have
what appears to be an unfinished short story or a draft of the first chapter
of a book. It's written by hand and has scribbles and notes all over it, so it's
pretty tough to read. I may attempt to type it up for you guys at some point.

I don't have any evidence of it, but some of my older living family members
are pretty sure that Max spent some time living in Hollywood, possibly
writing screenplays. I can't find him on IMDB, but I do know that back in the
30's and 40's it wasn't uncommon for screenwriters to work uncredited or
under pseudonyms.

Stanley Prelewicz
This is my uncle Stan. He's still living, so this one isn't based on any old
photos or newspaper clippings or anything.

Uncle Stan is, of all things, a private investigator. I don't actually know much
about what sort of cases he usually takes, but I like to imagine him tailing
people, wearing disguises and going on stake-outs.

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