DAY TWENTY TWO
He quit school to join the Navy — he served in WWII in the Pacific. They did things like that then… lied about their ages to get into the service. WWII was a big one, and his generation was like that.
He was one of 6 children and all 4 boys became civil servants (2 firemen, 2 policemen) (my Daddy’s the one on the far right). He was a patrolman, then worked in the “Emergency Squad” — what I consider to be a forerunner of today’s paramedics, but without the medical training. He and his partner arrived on the scene of an accident or an emergency situation basically to administer first aid until medical help could arrive or the ambulance came. He also worked at headquarters, “booking” prisoners and later was a Lieutenant who was a court liaison for policemen who had to make court appearances in connection with arrests. By this time, I was living in Arizona. I’d get these short, hand printed notes from him on legal paper telling me he’d been busy in court, and what he and my mom were doing that weekend, oh and here’s $20, don’t tell your mother. 🙂 I think she knew. At that time, $20 was a life-saving amount of money!
He was crazy about my mother, but there were really no PDA’s — not by today’s standards anyway, and that’s the way I think it should be. Your affectionate life should be private, not public. He was funny about gift-giving. He’d ask her, for example what she wanted for Christmas, and she’d say, “a vacuum cleaner” and he’d tell her ‘if you want a damned vacuum cleaner, go out and buy one – that’s not a gift!” His stock gift was a matching 3 piece set of “underwear”. (lingerie, now, but then we called it underwear.) The third piece was a half slip. I guess he came from a long line of “stock gifts”. In his bottom drawer he had a collection of AquaVelva bottles his mother had given him. To my knowledge, he didn’t wear AquaVelva. It was passed on to me, as every year I’d buy him a “book” of lifesavers. (some of you may be old enough to remember those books)
My dad loved to read, he had a great sense of humor and he liked being with us. On those rare weekends he was off of work (he worked a 5 on, 3 off shift so his “off” days changed every week) he and I would occasionally do errands. We’d go to the Chinese laundry where I would see the mynah bird. We’d go to the drive through car wash. We’d go to a restaurant / bar (now you’d call it a pub) and I’d get a 7-Up and he’d have a few beers and chat with his buddies for a while. Those were great days. We got a dog and he insisted on calling him “Dawg”. (If Tarzan can call his son “Boy” I can call my dog “Dawg”.) He also insisted he was “not the dog’s father, he was his employer!” Here he is doing a duet with Dawg.
When I was little I told him that at my wedding we would serve hot dogs and root beer — 2 of my favorite foods. “BUT YOU can have real beer.” I told him.
He kept the apartment (and the car) freezing cold in the summer. His idea of roughing it on vacation was to stay somewhere without a pool. I remember the time we went to Washington DC on vacation and we walked for about 2 hours looking for a restaurant that had REAL TURKEY, NOT turkey roll! (I have to agree with him on that!) At Christmas time, his job was to put the tree up, tie it to the ceiling and put the lights on. Then, depending on his schedule, he’d either supervise or go to sleep. Buying a Christmas tree was an adventure in those days, not like it is now with all the trees sheared to a perfect shape. We would look for days in lot after lot in freezing cold temperatures to find the perfect tree. By today’s standards, they were scrawny things. But we were always sure we had the best tree on the block.
In 1975 he had hip replacement surgery. This was in the olden days and the recovery took a long time (and he’d set off airport security whenever he’d go through!) At one point, we weren’t sure he’d make it to my college graduation, but he did. While he recuperated, he droveus all crazy playing DOUBLE SOLITAIRE. (another oxymoron?) We would all cringe when we’d see the cards come out after dinner. We played, but we’d cringe!
My dad never tried to stop me from moving from NY to AZ by myself. I don’t know his true feelings about my leaving. (I went in search of work… it seems to be a recurring theme for me.) The day I left was the day “Son of Sam” was captured … in Yonkers. He had to go in early to deal with the situation. He and my mom came to visit me several times when I lived there (once they brought my guitar with them on the plane!) Once they drove.
My dad got sick when I lived out west. He and my mom “retired” to the shore, which he loved. I’m sad to say I didn’t get to see him before he left us, (although I did talk to him the day before). I’m always thinking, “what would Daddy think of my house” or “I wish Daddy was here to help me”. I truly do think of him almost every single day.
Happy Father’s Day, With love.