YEP, MY DAD WAS A MANIAC FISHERMAN
No one could ever accuse our Dad of not being focused. When you can spend six hours in a twelve foot boat, without catching a single fish, and still be totally focused on trying to figure out where the exact right spot is, that my friend is being focused. Dad would be absolutely certain, that the very next spot would yield that three pound large mouth bass. In the meantime my kid brain was about to short circuit with raging boredom. All I could think of is how am I going to convince Dad to quit and go home. Having failed at that in the past exactly 100% of the time, I just sucked it up and kept my mouth shut. I may not have become an expert fisherman, but I learned to persevere. I also learned what the world looked like at 4:00 am. In the eyes of a little kid it was surreal. There weren’t any people or cars, it was still and quiet. The only things moving was a stray dog or two, scavenging for scraps of food in the dim early morning light. I was always fascinated by the world in the very early morning. I always liked it when we put out on the lake in the cool morning air, with a thin layer of fog laying on the water. It was strangely magical.
Our Dad had a lot of other things he liked to do other than fishing. He loved to play baseball, softball, and most other outdoor games. I can only imagine how much fun he would have had with a Frisbee. Strangely, he never played golf to my knowledge. The important point is, that he loved to play games with his children. He loved to play and laugh, and tease all of us. His love of practical jokes was unsurpassed. Our family dinners were filled with fun and laughter.
Although my Dad loved to play and laugh, he was anything but lazy. He was well aware of his responsibilities and never backed away from them. In all of my life, I never once saw the yard overgrown, the house in even the least bit of disrepair, or his car in need of repair. The family car was always spotless inside and out. I can honestly say, I never saw even a scrap of trash or paper inside the family car. So as you might imagine, our Dad was a disciplinarian. He wasn’t going to allow us to be slackers.
Our Dad took his job very seriously. He worked at the same company from 1938 until he retired sometime in the late sixties. I can’t remember him ever missing work. A lot of the guys he worked with were there all of those years as well. They knew me from birth, and I knew a lot of them. When I graduated from high school, I worked in the same company for about three years, and these guys were like family. I don’t think our Father had any enemies, but he had an endless amount of friends. It was almost a sure thing that no matter where we went, someone would know our Dad.
This is probably the most important thing about my Dad. I was the number one son. My Dad had great aspirations of me being like him, and having the same interests. I’m pretty sure he imagined me as his hunting and fishing partner. He imagined me as a die hard athlete. Nope, that wasn’t me. I’m pretty sure I was somewhat of a disappointment. I was born with an intense fascination with all things mechanical. I inherited the genetic talents as an artist, and I loved music. I had to know how all things worked.
This is the mark of a great Father, he took an interest in the things I liked and participated in them with me. I was crazy about aircraft, as well as cars. Drag racing was just getting started and the races were being held at private air strips. My Dad took me to my very first drag race at a small airport, then afterwards he paid for me to take a ride in a small private airplane. Pretty special day. I was also a sci-fi nut, so he took me to see the movie ” The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Then a few years later took me to see the movie ” The Wild Ones” about the motorcycle gangs. The motorcycle thing obviously stuck in my brain, as I was a life long motorcyclist.
My Dad was a prolific story teller, and I loved to listen to his stories, although most of them were re-runs. But he wasn’t much for in depth discussions about feelings. I can tell you this with certainty….he thought about things in depth, he just didn’t feel comfortable talking about them. It wouldn’t have been the “manly” thing to do. He knew my interests were different than his, but his interest was sharing time with me, his son. That was more important to him.
I was married at ripe old age of 20. He married our Mom when he was nineteen. Before I got married, he took me aside in our front yard and told me the following; ” If I ever hear of you mistreating your wife, you will have me to deal with. Women are to love and care for. If you want to fight, find a guy to fight with. I don’t ever want to hear of you laying a hand on that woman to hurt her”. Since I already tested him out three years earlier and lost that wrestling match badly, I took him seriously.
He was a great Father. I always felt is was cruel the way his life ended. He suffered several strokes, and was left with the mentality of a five or six year old. He didn’t deserve to go that way after dedicating his life to his family and community. He was an active 32nd Degree Mason, and headed up his lodge for several years.
He lived his life as the blueprint for how my brother and I conduct our lives as men. He taught us how to be Fathers and husbands. He taught us what was really important in life and what wasn’t. He taught us how to be productive, and take care of our possessions. He taught us to always be proud of who we are, and be respectful of others. I am proud to be my Fathers son.
I’m not sure where he learned his Fatherly skills, he was an orphan at the age of ten years old, raised in an orphanage. Think about that for awhile.
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