My father died in November of 1999. He lived to be 80. Mostly from German stock, he was born in South Dakota to a farmer couple who came from Ohio. No two of the six children were born in the same state. My father often teased that he was part Sioux Indian--he got very dark brown in the summer, and had black hair that was wavy, and steel blue eyes. He was considered handsome.
My mother passed away before I turned 12. My father never remarried, but instead raised my brother and I by himself, and along with older siblings, I guess we did okay. I respected my father, rather than feared him. My sisters both feared his anger, and intolerance. Probably why they both left early (one got married, the other just left).
He was an entrepreneur, in that he had his own business of building/selling corn cribs. During the war, he worked in a munitions factory. He graduated from University of Illinois, explaining that he'd had to hitch a ride to get there from Rochelle, where he lived at the time.
He wasn't apposed to hitch hiking, back then it was common. Having grown up during the depression, and worked for an uncle in his brewery--the time of prohibition, so there were speak easies and his job was to siphon the beer into bottles--explaining he'd hated the taste of beer. Then.
Also, he rode the rails, along with another kid he was friends with, trying to find a job out in California--as was what everyone did then. The rails were definitely very dangerous. The men who watched for those who jumped trains were ruthless and would just as well kill you, as beat you for having done so. At one point he hitched a ride with a family Okies (people from Oklahoma), who were driving out in their Model T--or whatever--saying that the boy he was traveling with was rather ugly, and maybe didn't look trustworthy (?) so he was able to go, and the other boy didn't join him. But they did reach the boy's aunt's place in California, only to have to return pretty much on the rails. This is what my father explained his version of camping. He wasn't much for camping.
But he did like to fish, later on when he retired, after ten years of OTR. He retired early, having been able to actually lie about his age when he went with the trucking company, afraid they wouldn't hire a man in his fifties. I get my wonderful youthful appearance from him. I don't look my age, either.
When he died, it was sudden. I miss him even today, for his personality, easy jokes, laugh, and kindness. If someone needed money, he would give it to them. He once taught a woman how to drive, so that she could get her license and be able to drive herself to town--since he was the one giving her lifts to and from the store (something I'd not learned of, until after his death).
I miss him the most during the summer. He always had a grand garden. Once he grew 12 foot tall sweet corn, the ears were so big they wouldn't fit in any pan, except the oval roasting pan. He had a picture of him standing proudly by his giant corn in the seed catalogue where he purchased the seeds.
My dad was my buddy. I got along with him better than my sisters did, I think I had an understanding with him. I happened to enjoy Lawrence Welk and classical music. I think it was because when I was small, and couldn't sleep, he would play a 45 record with a Mozart symphony, and it would put me to sleep. To this day I love classical music.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.