Thursday, December 02, 2004

My Father

Everyone loved my father. He was a very important part of our lives, and we revere his memory to this day. I was very close to him, and my place at the table was at his side. He always made remarks about the fact that I was his firstborn.

I have many happy memories as a young girl growing up in my house, with a father such as mine. He always did many things for all of us. He built a playhouse for us girls, in the backyard under a black walnut tree. This was a substantial building, with a door and windows. Many happy hours were spent there, playing with dolls, making clothes for them, reading, drawing, working on projects, and “playing house”.

Sometime later, my grandfather won a pony at the local Firemen’s Carnival in the Town Park, and Dad moved the playhouse to another part of the yard, whereupon it became called ponyhouse. He cut another door, in the end of the house, built a ramp, and fenced in a large area of the yard for the pony. We could enter through the door in the front of the house, and take care of or play with the pony, Sparky.

It did not seem to matter to my father that he had so many children to support. He always acted like “the more the merrier”. He loved his whole family. We were so important to him. It is a good thing he had a business in the home, because he could be with us when he was not out making house calls. He was there, in the shop in the front of the house.

Dad had a radio repair business in the forties that eventually became a TV repair business. We were the first people in a very large area to have television sets, as we sold them in our shop. People came from far and wide to watch TV at night in the store. I remember my parents going in and out of the front of the house, taking care of all of the people. I don’t know if it became tiring to them, but I am not sure that I would be able to handle that in my life today.

Dad eventually built a “record room” on the side of the rooms that were the store. It was a long, narrow room, with built-in display racks, and a counter area with record players where customers could listen to records. My friends, and my cousin, used to love to come and check out the music. I am not sure how rich my father became in record sales.

It is difficult for me to remember the order in which events occurred in my young life. I used to help my Dad install TV antennas on people’s roofs, because his sons were too young at the time. I did not have a problem with climbing up ladders onto the roofs, and I always enjoyed being up there helping him. I would retrieve tools for him, and hold the antennas while he fastened them so that they would not fall.

One of the worst times of my youth was the time I came home from school and found that my father had fallen from someone’s roof. He was taken to the hospital, and was in serious condition, with a dislocated shoulder and shattered ankle. When he came home, his arm was taped to his chest, with the whole chest bound in bandage. His leg was in a cast and he was in a wheelchair for a very long time. I took care of him, while my Mom drove her car to people’s homes to pick up their TV’s and bring them back to the shop so together they would be able to repair them. She was in late pregnancy at the time with one of my brothers and this was a hardship for her. I helped with the other kids, and helped to entertain my father.

He also had another live being to entertain him and keep him company at this time, in the form of a parakeet named Perry. Perry would sit on his shoulder, and Dad would tear up bits of paper to throw for Perry to chase. Perry could say his name, and I swear he had the robins outside calling Perry also. That bird helped my father to keep his sanity, I am sure. Dad’s ankle always bothered him after that accident.

Dad accompanied me to school affairs, as my mother was busy with the youngest children. I loved having him go there with me. Sometimes these occasions were related to things in my life, and at other times, they were for the other kids. I could always count on him to be there for me. We would get dressed up and go together.

Speaking of dressing up, Dad always wore a shirt and tie, with dress pants, and a vest if it was cool weather. If he was working in the back yard or doing construction on the house additions, he wore shorts or pants, sometimes with no shirt on hot days, but to be seen in public, he had on his shirt and tie. I gave him many ties as gifts over the years, and after I was married, I made vests for him for Christmas several years in a row. He loved them, because I made them reversible, with six pockets, so he had plenty of places to carry small parts. When my dad was buried, he wore a new tan dress shirt I had given him that he had never worn. My mother was sorry later that she had him dressed in that shirt, because he always preferred a white shirt.

There is much more to the story of my father, so this is “to be continued”.


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