If our father were alive during these days of pandemic restrictions, there’s no doubt he would be finding all kinds of ways to stay busy and productive.
Walter “Corky” Dennis retired from a memorable career as police officer and homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department in the 1980s. He immediately began work as a U.S. Marshal and was assigned to the Federal Judge John Woods assassination case.
Born in 1937, lessons from WWII rationing and post-Great Depression times instilled in him a strong work ethic and frugalness.
Along the way he owned a gas station, used car lot, bail bonds company, electrical repair business, motorcycle mechanic shop and other things to keep him occupied.
He loved tinkering in his workshop, making and repairing things he thought needed to be fixed or created.
As he aged, he tended to stay in the airconditoned house more often and managed to remodel and expand their home several times before his death in 2011.
One of the biggest surprises was seeing his cooking advancements in the kitchen. I suppose our stepmother Lucy had some influence in that because I rarely saw him cook growing up (Heating Chefboyardee spaghetti is not cooking).
My absolute favorite, that he was rightfully proud of, was his Pico de Gallo.
For those who don’t know, it’s a salsa made of fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers, with cilantro, lime juice and plenty of garlic.
Unlike other homemade salsa recipes that require cooking and blending, Dad enjoyed chopping and making this fresh salsa because it’s simply a matter of mixing everything together in a bowl.
In my travels, I’ve heard it called Salsa Fresca, Salsa Mexicana and even Rooster’s Beak. But in San Antonio, we’ve always known it as Pico de Gallo.
5 medium size vine ripe tomatoes, about 3 1/2 cups chopped very small
1/2 medium size red onion diced small
2 green onions very thinly sliced
1 serrano or jalapeno chile very finely minced
1 small handful fresh cilantro with leaves stems mostly removed, about 2 tablespoons full, chopped very small
6 garlic cloves minced
1 lime juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
To begin, finely dice as much of the ingredients as possible. This allows the flavors to really “fuse and blend,” Dad would say. The idea is to not have chunks of tomatoes or onions distract from the flavor and texture.
When the tomatoes, onions and pepper are mixed together in a bowl, add the garlic cloves and the juice of one lime.
Mix everything together then let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. The flavors of all the ingredients will blend together beautifully while the salsa sits or is kept in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.