“It is all about family” is the inner core of Karl Miller and his family. He guesstimates he has 30 first cousins. The surnames that make up this close-knit family are Devlin, Gavin and of course, Miller.
Karl’s mom, Bernadette, is one of seven Gavin children. After her mother died, her dad married again to Marie Woodland. Eddie Gavin was a famous or should I say a notorious character in the area ... more about that later.
Karl first attended St. Ann’s School and graduated from St. Pius X High School. He then attended LaSalle College, graduating with a degree in political science. He made mention that he came down to 16 years of Catholic education. Karl went on to Pace University in White Plains, New York, for his doctorate.
While at St. Ann’s, he was an altar boy. Along with Father Richard Griffin, he won a bowling championship. The day after his mom taught him how to shoot marbles, he won a marble competition.
At the age of 13, he went to work at the front desk of the YMCA for two hours every afternoon. He started to swim at the age of 6 and still swimming today. He is very involved in the “Y” as well as many other community groups.
For the last 25 years, he worked for ACE in the sales department. As Karl never married and has no children, his extended family, as I mentioned, is his core. Also, everyone lives in the Phoenixville area. There were four Miller boys — Bob, Gary, Jack and Karl, along with sister, Daryl. Jack has since passed from this life.
Let us go back to his grandfather — Eddie Gavin — who owned the United Cigar Shop at 15 S. Main St. Today that building houses Artifiqt Market. The front of the store had a soda fountain and sold cigars, cigarettes, candy and such.
The back of the store was another story. It is a “betting joint.” It was the mecca for card games and placing bets, which were illegal at the time. It was known for police raids with a lot of activity around the store.
Grandfather Eddie Gavin was a character straight out of a Damon Runyan tale. Actually, he was a very kind and generous man — instilling this into his family. For many years from the 1940s until his death, he was the town’s Santa Claus. Giving gifts and holding a party for all the children. His generosity expanded beyond Christmas to year-round. Karl credits his mom to being all about love, giving, the family and helping others. She was the one who passed these values onto her children.
Karl related an unusual story about his grandfather, Isaac Miller. He was a police officer in the early days of the Valley Forge Park. He was killed when he was hit by a car in 1932. It is ironic — how many cars could have been on the road in 1932?
Karl is an avid watcher of the “Antique Roadshow.” Nothing major, he has a few collectibles. He likes to cook and enjoys giving small dinner parties. He mentioned 7 or 8 people — that not too small, Karl.
By the information he shared he is a master when it comes to making ice cream. He likes to try combination flavors and techniques that go with it.
It was a little difficult for him to admit — his mom was the worst cook in the entire family. Let say she is at the bottom of the list. Aunt Betty was No. 1 with her specialty being desserts. There was only one recipe that the family liked that Bernadette made.
BERN’S ROLY-POLY RECIPE
leftover pie dough (usually from meat/chicken pot pie)
unsalted butter – softened, not melted
finely chopped walnut/pecans (optional)
1 egg yolk (for pastry wash)
Preheat oven to 425-degrees. With leftover pie dough form in a ball – roll it out on floured into long strips about 5” wide. Butter the center of each strip – sprinkle a layer of brown sugar – top with a layer of cinnamon. If using nuts – sprinkle on top of brown sugar. Fold the pie dough over the center mixture. Brush top with egg wash. Place on baking sheet (with layer of parchment paper). Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (brown sugar should appear bubbly). Remove from oven and allow to cool. Best eaten while warm.