Dennis Weiss was the son of my Father’s Aunt Juanita, who was the youngest sister of his mother.
George D Schultz
Denny was born in (I think) the mid-forties. I spent the night at the tiny Weiss bungalow on Lenore Street, in Detroit — New Years Eve of 1947 going into 1948 — and it is my somewhat-flawed memory that he was a couple or three years old, at that time.
Uncle Vince, who was a fine man, had a bit of an alcohol problem. Part of it, I think, had to do with his relationship with my aunt. She parceled out — to the penny — how much money he could spend of a given day. So, once or twice a year — always on payday — he’d tie on a real bender. One time he slammed the car off of the side of the house, when he came home drunk.
I think that Denny inherited his father’s proclivities with the bottle. (Aunt Juanita — back in the forties and fifties — could shoot a pretty good stick with the booze too.)
Denny — like me — HATED school. I have no idea as to whether he’d graduated high school. My memory says that he did — but, I really don’t know. It would have sometime around this period that his mother divorced his father — and married my Uncle Ray. It was a turbulent time. Well, my aunt could — and did — cause a good bit of tumult,throughout her life. I think it affected Dennis — more so than Patsy or Jackie.
Denny — at least by the time our family had left Detroit, in September of 1962 — had never seemed able to hold a good job. (Actually, I don’t know that he ever HAD a good job. It’s my understanding that he did not score well in filling out applications and/or particularly “shining” in job interviews.)
Consequently, he was always working for some firm that was selling waterless cookware or overpriced garbage grinders or way-too-expensive dishes and flatware. This is my opinion — but, I don’t think he would’ve done well in trying to sell this stuff. (This is the pot calling the kettle black. I was never successful at trying to sell things like that either.) The two or three companies, of which I was aware he was working, had him transporting kids to different neighborhoods — and the KIDS would try and sell this stuff. It was not a very lucrative position. HE was driving older cars than I was. Pretty old.
My mother would occasionally encounter him (and, I think, his wife or girlfriend) in a bar that “Choody’s” boyfriend, Eddie, had downed. This was after we’d moved to Texas. And “Choody” would always lecture him on financial responsibility. According to my mother, his answer was always. “Money’s not for paying bills … money’s for having FUN”.
I’m not sure of this — and perhaps I shouldn’t make the accusation (tentative as it is) — but, I THINK that he’d not only had troubles with the “sauce”, as the seventies had rolled along, but he had also gotten into a little bit of the drug culture.
In October or November of 1978, he died — tragically — in a fire. Was burned to death. That MUST be a horrible way to go. I’d heard a number of different versions — so, I don’t know which is true — but, the consensus seemed to be that he’d been unable to save himself. That he’d been “incapacitated”.
His was — truly — a tragic life. Another expression I’ve heard — from various family members (close and not-so-close) was that, “The poor kid never had a chance”.
There is some confusion as to where Dennis is buried. My Uncle Vince had died — shortly after we’d left Detroit, if memory serves — and Denny was to be buried next to his father. But, there was a problem with insurance/finances/etc. And — again, it seems to me — he wound up buried in some VERY remote, non-profit, charitable, graveyard, in some far-reaching suburb of “The Motor City”.
I wish I could add to this — but, our paths didn’t cross all that often. I think that my mother might have seen him more often — at Eddie’s bar — than I would’ve been involved with him. None of my family ever saw him during the last 16 years of his life.