So January 1st for me was usually family get together time with my Father’s family, typically, at my Uncle Ott’s or Kenny’s place. I remember many a good New Year’s Day celebration! It was also Uncle Johnny’s birthday. Johnny was my mother’s oldest brother, born in 1923. Johnny would have been the fourth John Sherrington Ashton a name which dates back to 1814 when the John S Ashton the first was born in Holbeach, England. John’s middle name however, was Howard. I believe that my Great mother Charlotte Trout Regars had a lot to do with naming her grandchildren. John’s middle name was Howard, which is one of Charlotte’s brothers name and my mom’s brother James middle name was Elmer, which was Charlotte’s grandfather’s name. The name middle name of Elmer cased Jimmy to say that he was James “No name” Ashton. But back to Uncle Johnny.
This is my favorite story that my mom used to tell about Uncle Johnny. My mom and her brothers grew up in a split religious family. My grandfather was a strict Catholic and my grandmother’s family was Methodist. On Friday they were not allowed to eat meat, but my grandmother would sometimes make hamburgers for lunch for the kids. The family also grew up very poor and one Friday the electric man came to turn off the power. He proceeded to go down in the basement to do the deed. Johnny, who was ten at the time, proceeded to lock the door behind him and told the electric man that he would be released from the cellar as long as he left the electric on until after his mother had finished making their hamburgers!
Uncle Johnny passed away in June of 1990 at the age of 67. In August of that same year my first cousin Jimmy died at the age of 47. It was a very sad summer for our family.
Uncle Johnny was a big Phillies fan, and each spring brought renewed hope that this was going to be the year that they would win the pennant. He got to see them win it all in 1980 and I only wish that he could have been around for these last few years and the five Eastern Division Pennants and the 2008 World Championship! And this year Uncle Johnny with some of the moves they made, I don’t know, but a think they have a good shot at winning the pennant again. So Happy Birthday Uncle Johnny we still love and miss you!