My dad was born on December 9, 1927 and he was a typical Sagittarius. Head-strong, jovial and earnest; a hard working “good provider”. If you look at any of my other posts, you can see all of the people who made him into who he became. He was a “Momma’s boy”, but one that could take care of himself.
He was a charmer. He loved a red-headed chick with great legs and loved to drive a hot-rod as fast as he could get away with.
He could be adventurous or just drop a fishing line into a river, looking to catch a trout. He had a great love of his family. He had older brothers he loved and older sisters that made him feel special. Oh, he did have a pest of a younger sister who liked to talk his ear off, and a niece who was just as bothersome. Hell, Daddy loved Aunt Angie and Viola just as much as anyone else; they were just fun to complain about.
He enlisted in the Merchant Marines at the age of 15 to join World War II then he enlisted in the Army when he reached 18. He traveled extensively while in the army including Japan, Australia and the Philippines. He loved to play craps in the barracks but eventually no one would play with him because he would win all their money.
He met my mom and they were married in Las Vegas in 1952 and went on to have five kids.
When I was a teen, Dad worked in underground construction and often came home dusty and sweaty. He’d come into the house on Harper’s Ferry Court through the garage, into the laundry room, then drop his clothing at the washer. He walked all the way back to his bedroom in just his tightie-whities, even if we had friends at the house.
He took a black lunch box to work, the kind that had a flip top lid and silver latches. He sometimes took a Hostess cupcake or a Hostess snowball for his desert at lunch. He usually brought home the extra, and you could have whatever he brought back. Sometimes, it was left over Vienna sausages. Daddy carried Juicy-fruit gum, the yellow wrappers sticking out of his shirt pocket.
Since he was in underground construction, he’d often wear a hard-hat and usually had one around the house.
He loved having a baby in the house. As his last baby, my dad “babied me”. He loved to tell the story how he’d driven my mother to the hospital and dropped her off at the door. After parking the car, he raced into the hospital, only to see a nurse pushing a baby in a bassinet through the lobby. He said, “Hey, that’s my baby.” The nurse said, “This baby was just born.” Daddy responded, “That’s my baby.” And it was me.
Mother had a serious fall down a staircase when she worked for Lockheed. She broke several vertebra in her back and damaged her shoulder. I was three years old. After that, my oldest sister Cammie and my dad took the responsibility of caring for me. Momma was still there but it was Daddy who bought my lunchbox when I started school. I cried and cried that I couldn’t possibly take a hot-wheels lunch box to school but he’d already bought it and so I was stuck with it. I wasn’t happy about that. He also took me to the first day of kindergarten. I was reluctant to join the class (going back to: I was the baby and didn’t want to go) and he pushed me toward the other children and told me he’d wait in the back of the room. Of course, he’d scat-assed as soon as I sat down.
My cousin Cynthia Paulson was getting married in 1969 when I was about 4. I was her flower girl. I made it down the aisle alright, but once on the stage I became very antsy and was flopping over with great exaggeration. My dad started mouthing at me from the audience to stand still during the ceremony. Finally I whined at him from the alter, “But Daddy, I’m tired.” Oh yes, that became my dad’s catch phrase for me.
When I was six, Dad took me to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus, just the two of us. I thought it was so cool that he’d taken me somewhere by myself. My favorite act was the motorcyclist who drove around and around inside a cage.
Some days Daddy would leave a quarter and a dime on the table for my lunch money. When he was out of Skippy Peanut Butter, he wouldn’t leave Momma a note. Rather, he’d leave the empty tub on the counter. I guess we surmised it was time to replace it. He only liked white, store bought bread. He said he hated taking homemade bread to school in a tin can. He only drank whole milk and loved sweets, especially lemon cake.
One of the best things about my dad was his love of my mother.
After Mom and Dad got married, my Aunt Jean famously gave them six months. Their marriage lasted far longer than that.
When I talk to Aunt Henrietta, my dad’s first cousin that he and Mother were friends with, she never fails to mention how much my parents loved each other, how devoted they were to each other. Their love was evident to anyone who spent any time with them.
Growing up, we knew Mom and Dad came first with each other, no matter what.
Daddy loved a good Roi-Tan Falcon cigar and smoked them constantly. When I was little he had smoked Camel cigarettes but after a health scare, he switched to cigars. He finally gave those up too, toward the end.
My dad loved to sit in his chair with his cigar and read or watch T.V. He was very well read, which made up for his lack of formal schooling. He was very intelligent and loved a good mystery.
All my life, my mother was my best friend. After she had died, I forced dad into that role. I don’t think he minded. He was very hunched over by then and had a difficult time sitting up straight. I would sit next to him on the floor and put my head on his lap, just so I could have him hug me.
If Dad were here today, I would buy him a box of See’s Candy (we only get Rocky Road and Peanut Butter Crunch…all two pounds) and take him out for Dave Wongs. This is the 13th Father’s Day that I have spent without him. I miss you Timothy Celestino Jacques or Big Time, as one of my brother in law’s used to call him. He was a hellofa guy!