With turkey day around the corner, I come here today to seek revenge for all the tortuous hours the Klein family spent around the Thanksgiving table. Oh, the table looked beautiful, the food was outstanding…but there was always the proverbial fly in our Thanksgiving pudding. Invariably Uncle Les would reach down into his horn of plenty puns and grace the table with a “groaner.” “Uncle Les, will you pass the turkey?” “I would but your Uncle Roland put on a few pounds this year.” I don’t think I need to elaborate any further. I think you get the picture. Well, I have the podium now. So, sit back and enjoy as I present the life and times of John Lester Klein in a little novella I so aptly named “Les Miserables!”
In honor of Uncle Lester’s 89th Birthday
The Life and Times of John Lester Klein
By Marilyn Kinsella
When Les was in high school, he was a popular fellow. He decided in his senior year to run for senior class president. It was a tight race because a good friend of his, Tim Moore, was running against him. It came down to the wire and the two were running neck and neck. Who would win? Who would lose? The votes were finally in. The principal called for an assembly. He came up to the podium and said, “This has been a hard run race. I’m proud of the way these two young men conducted themselves. Unfortunately there was a tie and only one can be chosen so you are going to have to decide who will be your next senior class president right now…more or Les.”
When Les went into the air force and became a mail carrier, he exceeded in his job performance. He even received a medal for his outstanding service to his country. I guess his drive to be the best came from his high school yearbook. Why, it’s written right there under his senior picture. You see, he was unanimously voted…Les likely to succeed.
Even when he came back to the states, Les’s work at the U.S. Postal Service was commendable. He always delivered on time. He never had to worry about running out of gasoline for his truck. Why it was written on every street corner…”Get gas for Les.”
As old Fairview reached for new heights, so did Uncle Les. As our first city clerk, he led the charge to get Fairview Heights its own post office. Oh, there were his detractors. Those who said it couldn’t be done. But he persevered. Les wouldn’t settle for a branch. He wanted Fairview Heights to have its own post office with it’s own zip code. I guess it was this rallying cry that spurned him on…”Don’t settle for anything Les.”
Even as he sits quietly (or not so quietly) at Charles Gardens, he has become somewhat of a celebrity. Oh, Bill Gates could take a few lessons from our Uncle Lester. From his armchair he runs a highly successful, nationwide enterprise. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at one of the thousands of Wal-mart trucks running up and down our highways and interstates. It says it all right there on the back of each and every truck…”We buy for Les….Always!”
Yes, I have wreaked my revenge. But I have made copies of my little story. Everyone here today at this auspicious occasion, the celebration of Uncle Lester’s 89th birthday, will have well-documented proof to carry on to the next generation…Les we forget!
Uncle Lester passed away in May of 2006. His sharp humor and gentle ways are etched into our hearts.