Thoughts of My Father
Nothing specific, but general thoughts of the man I know as my father. Some stories from him he took to the grave: stories from his parents, of his life working to make a family, and tales of his time in World War Two. He did share a few things near the end of his life about his enlistment in the Army, but very little. As kids, we knew he spent time in the Philippines, drove truck, and was hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb, but little else. Later, he shared that he had visited Hiroshima. He never described what he’d seen, but it had to be after the bombing, because he wouldn’t have had the means as a teenager before the war.
He had a small cache of black and white photographs, most of which were of the people, his mates, and the land. Somewhere in the intervening years, they have become lost and are no longer a part of the family’s heritage.
He was never one to show much affection, his gruff appearance would occasionally part into a smile. He only rarely said the word love, even to my mother, but worked in the coal mines, then a factory to provide food, clothing, and a home for our family. Money was always tight, but he would often surprise us with something special. Sundays were the best. After our return from church and Sunday school, he would drive to a nearby store to buy the Sunday newspaper, a large bag of Snyder’s potato chips, and a circle chunk of longhorn cheese. He always liked it and especially liked it when it was fresh and “gummy.”
Buying a newer car every few years and washing the vehicles every week stand out as memories of him. Fords seemed to be his passion, although he did buy a Chevy as a second car for my mom once.
His horny, calloused hands were like asbestos and I would see him pick up and move hot things without seemingly feeling the pain. I remember him swinging a double-bitted axe and hitting the same spot time after time as he split fire wood.
Digging clay from beneath our home place to create a full basement instead of a crawl space is another memory, load after load wheeled out in a rickety wheelbarrow.
Coming back on a Saturday morning with several squirrels he’d shot, skinning them in the basement, then mom would fry them and make squirrel gravy and pancakes for breakfast. Even though he would sop hotcakes in the sausage grease, he lived until he was ninety years old. I love you, Dad.