Friday, November 28, 2014

JIM REKOUTIS as FONZIE

Jim Rekoutis was Bingham's "Fonzie"
By "Admiral" Wayne Ray
Jim Rekoutis was the "coolest cat"
“Happy Days” is an American television sitcom that aired first-run from January 15, 1974, to September 24, 1984, on ABC. Created by Garry Marshall, the series presents an idealized vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s United States. Wikipedia.  
Jim Rekoutis was the "coolest cat" during our "Happy Days" in the 1940's. Looking back, I likened him to the TV program Happy Days "Fonzie" character.
home was far right and center
above US Hotel
Here is why: Jim grew up in Copperfield. That act of nature was imbedded in his soul for life. Someone gave him the nickname of "Mackuty" which we eventually found "tagged" on the entrance walls of the Copperfield side of the Bingham to Copperfield tunnel, as well as elsewhere. I don't know if he wrote it or not, but I'll bet he got a visit from the Utah Copper "copper". We first met in the 7th grade. I knew then at first glance that this guy was something special. As we became more acquainted he told me about growing up in Copperfield. He did all the Copperfield kid stuff that got most boys in trouble. He sold ore samples to tourists that came to the visitor’s center of the mine, sometimes "putting one over" on them. He was as a Crossing Guard in grade School when he did something out of turn and was "squealed on" by a classmate.  He never forgave him for that even when we were seniors in High School. Anyway, ask him where he is from and he'll tell you Copperfield even though it doesn't exist anymore.  The reason that I think he resembles the Fonzie character was his "presence". By that I mean that wherever he was, he attracted respect. From students, teachers, other adults------everyone. Even "Boss" Hausknecht, who those of us who knew him, respect was hard to come by, treated Jim almost as a peer. 

Copperfield Business District
about to be mined away
Jim was more than often the center of attention. First if all, he had a mustache in Junior High.  His attire was always white '''cords", dirtied to the proper degree, and a leather sleeved jacket. You knew when he was around.  He could have called my mother Mrs. "R" and my dad Mr. "R". He was generous to a fault and was very protective of me. 
I was as naive as "Richie" Cunningham of the Happy Days TV program and needed Jim to help guide me. I felt safe when we were together. I don't remember him ever getting in a fight. We all thought he was "tough" but he never had to prove it. However, he never took any "crap" from anyone all his life.  

Tragedy struck his family twice in his young life when his father and his uncle who married his mother after his father’s death both were killed in accidents on the job at Utah Copper Company. Jim is the oldest of 5 children, three brothers and two sisters. He was in Junior High and a sophomore when those tragedies happened so he had to mature fast. He really became the man of the house. Then and for all of his life he has looked after the welfare of his family. As a result of his maturity he was one of, if not the first, in our high school class to have a car. His mother needed him to drive. 
seven miles of snow
When he started going with Mary Manos, who became his wife, having enough gasoline to take care of family duties and court her was a problem.  Remember in WWII gasoline was rationed and if you had an "A" card, your supply was limited. I was always asking my dad and my Employer at "R" Dairy for stamps for Jim's gas. He did, after all, drive me around some times.

 My wife and I lived in California near Jim and Mary Rekoutis and their family twice. I have remained close to them since High School. We assisted the startup and even worked for one of Jim's companies. For a while after our retirement, we were very active in his business. I found the "Fonzie" attitude still intact as we enjoyed watching him grow and succeed.

4th of July in Copperfield
And he was still always looking out for my welfare. We are privileged to have as friends two of the most generous and gracious people we have ever known.

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