Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rotelle Pasta Salad and Summer BBQs



My Dad, Robert Haynes & Carl Chew, Sr (& the Chew's tan van!)
circa late 70's
While making this salad, I thought about summer BBQs with good friends and family way back in the late 70's and early 80's.  My family was close with two other families from our home town of Wenonah. Mom and Dad bought our house from the Gardler family who lived there prior to us, and who then bought a farm down in Swedesboro, NJ. They in turn, introduced us to the Chew family whom also lived in town. The ages of the kids ranged in the beginning with the youngest ones, the Chew kids, to the late teens of the Gardler kids with myself, brother, and sister falling somewhere in the middle.

Each year we would spend Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day BBQing at each other's homes.  The Haynes' would host Memorial Day, Jane and Carl Chew would host July 4th (the parade in Wenonah was and still is legendary), and Anne and Rich Gardler would host Labor Day at the Farm. Our three families got together and for the entire day we'd eat, shoot off fireworks, play games, swim in the Gardler's pool, play in the woods or fields, antagonize pets and farm animals, and then probably eat some more until late into the evening. We kids were so exhausted, often passing out in the backseat of the station wagon on the way home if it were out at the Farm.  Throw in birthdays and the Christmas holidays and these two families became such a large part of my family for many years.

Sheryl would hang out with the Gardler daughters, Debbie, Helen, and Joanne listening to music or gossiping in their bedroom while Adam and I would hang out with Carl and Amy Chew. George Gardler would tease the girls to no end. I remember there being a lot of pranks and practical jokes played on each other throughout those years.

Some of the Chew, Garder, & Haynes families.
circa late 70's
As always happens, things changed. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons there were, my family stopped getting together with the other families on such a regular basis. We were never told why by our parents nor as kids did we ask. We noticed though and it was an uncomfortable if not difficult change after so many years of family "get-togethers."  


Years passed and our families moved on. Mom and Dad divorced and remarried. We would pass on "Hi's!" from Dad to the Gardlers and Chews and vice versa when our paths crossed, usually at the Wenonah July 4th celebrations. I know Mom and her husband Barry sometimes got together with Anne and Rich Gardler when they came back up north from Florida. It wasn't the same and unfortunately it wouldn't be. That's one of the those lessons learned while growing up. Things change and sometimes you just have to accept it.

In 2007, Anne Gardler passed away and Sheryl and I went to the memorial service at the Farm. In 2009, Mom passed away and the Chew family and Rich Gardler and daughter Debbie came up to Lake Wynonah for our service. And finally in 2013, Anne and Rich's daughter Debra Gardler Clement passed away with Sheryl and I making the trip down to South Jersey for her memorial service.  Our families each attended the services where we could and it felt like we came back to each other full circle spending time with the Chews and Gardlers once more.

Salad ingredients!
The advent of Facebook (I hate to admit it) helped us as well. We all started slowly reconnecting. Recently, Sheryl and I traveled a laughingly circuitous route to Joanne (Gardler) and Greg Gaynor's home to attend the graduation party and BBQ for their son, Tyler. We had a great time once we finally got there after stopping, getting lost, refusing to ask questions, arguing, screaming, and laughing all the way through Delaware. The graduation party was lots of fun with each of us cracking up as we recounted stories from the past. It feels good knowing how much we all still mean to each other.

Haha, all this from a great summer salad! 

You can  take this salad to a pic-nic or BBQ.  It is easy to make and just so good.  I did make one error though. I glanced at the recipe before heading to the store and thought it called for rotini, not rotelle pasta. The salad still came out awesome using the rotini. I will try it next time with the rotelle (wagon wheel) pasta. I also added 1 cup of celery. You could also add a cup of chopped up carrots. The 8 oz bottle of dressing was just enough to dress the salad. It wasn't overwhelming at all. If you want greater flavor, try one of the more robust Italian dressings now offered like Kraft's Tuscan Italian Dressing or Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing with Cheese.

Rotelle Pasta Salad by Abby Deeds


The finished salad.
4 cups rotelle (wagon wheel) pasta (8 oz dried)
2 cups cubed chicken or 2 5 oz cans of chunk chicken
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 cups thinly sliced green pepper strips
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
1 cup chopped celery (Optional, I added this.)
1 bottle (8 oz) Italian dressing (I used Kraft's Zesty Italian Dressing.)

Cook pasta, drain and rinse.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Add dressing.
Mix well and chill for two hours.
Toss before serving.
Serves 6


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