I was not terribly excited about this prompt, because I had zero ideas about what to write about. We don’t have any Amish in our trees, and offhand I couldn’t think of anyone with a beard. Mike’s 18-day beard when we went camping in the Pacific Northwest in 1998 (he decided to take a vacation from shaving) wasn’t particularly noteworthy. I don’t think we have a photo record of it, either.
His beard was kind of nice, and had grown out past the awkward and uncomfortable stage—itchy for him and rough/scratchy for me. But he shaved it off when we got home. As soon as we got home. That afternoon—not the next morning. No warning to me. No chance to say goodbye to it. I was in the yard picking up the mail from the neighbor and talking about the trip, when he walks out with a naked face! There aren’t even words.
So yeah, no story there. A couple weeks of working on other posts intervened. It finally occurred to me that Christian Meintzer did have a beard, but he’s already had quite a bit of press in the blog (My Favorite Photo and Colorful), and I don’t have any particular story about him and his beard. Cousins, feel free to help out!
So I’m going to cheat and back off to just a mustache. A number of them hang around our trees;
some you’ve seen before. The first is John Joseph Carmody, Mike’s paternal grandfather. You meet him in Unusual Source. As I mentioned then, I don’t know that much about him, and certainly don’t know any stories about his mustache. But his photo from the paper is just to awesome to pass up!
Another mustache, attached to my great-grandfather, Carl Moeller, was from the same turn-of-the-century era. My mom remembers this grandfather’s handlebar mustache when she was growing up, and she said he had a mug with a bar across the bottom edge to keep his mustache dry when he was drinking coffee. When I see one of those in an antique stop, my mind immediately goes to him! He’s the 2nd from the left of the men in the foreground, below.
From the photos I have seen, my grandfather, Christoph Meintzer, never sported a mustache, but his older brother, Jacob, seemed to. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to put my hands on one of Uncle Jake’s photos.
I don’t recall my dad or any of my uncles having mustaches, but I vividly remember a time when all three of my brothers were mustachioed. It was the 1970s, so that explains a lot! Several cousins had them, also—some never giving them up.
I must be getting old, because it seems one memory begets another. As I wrote this, I suddenly remembered my oldest brother, Bob, coming home for our oldest sister, Carole, getting married in May, 1969. I was at school when Mom picked him up at O’Hare . . . with hair down to his shoulders, and a full beard. She was not at all pleased. I don’t know what discussion went on, but by the time I got home from school, his hair was shorter and the beard trimmed up. Mom was visibly happier!
Beards and mustaches aren’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things. We sometimes get so caught up in the stories of our people, that we ignore the littler stories behind the stories. Often those are as interesting—or more mysterious—than bigger issues in their lives. Were they
Following the fashion of the time?
Taking on a dare?
Trying to be taken more seriously in their profession?
Most of the time we will never know, but it’s interesting to look for possible patterns. And we need to save those photos for blackmail, later!
“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” -Vince Lombardi
Mary Elizabeth Haws (Aunt May) is my grandfather’s (Edward Mathias Haws) next younger sister. Like him, she was born in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In 1915, at age 25, she married John J. Carroll in Chicago, Illinois. John Carroll was born in Brooklyn, so I’m not quite sure how the two of them met and fell in love.
By 1910, Aunt May was no longer in her parents’ household. Many Wisconsin girls found employment in the homes of Chicago’s North Shore residents, (as my great-grandmother, Dorothea Harry did) so it’s possible she was working there and they met that way. Their oldest child, Gerard Paul (my 1st cousin, once removed), was born in 1916 in Chicago¹, but the young family soon moved to New York—specifically Brooklyn. That was where Gerard’s only sister, Virginia, was born in 1918.
Gerard Paul attended Catholic schools and seminaries in Brooklyn, eventually making his First Profession of Vows in 1940 with the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), and being ordained in 1944. For his ordination he chose the name “Daniel.” That was the good old days when priests and nuns had to choose an entirely different name for their religious life. He spent the rest of his life as Father Dan(iel).
Where do sports fit in? It’s coming.
Vince Lombardi is of course, a famous Brooklynite. He was three years older than Fr. Dan, but they both attended Cathedral Prep and St. Francis. They knew each other from their high school years, becoming close friends. Fr. Dan became a staunch Green Bay Packers fan, and apparently Coach Lombardi would leave a sideline access pass for him, if the Packers were playing nearby.
Fr. Dan died 2 September 2002. In the 2-page memorial paper I received, it said, ” . . . there’s even a picture of him [Fr. Dan] sitting on the bench next to Lombardi on a cover of Sports Illustrated.” WOW! I didn’t pursue checking that out until a couple years later, when my cousin, Maria (his grand-niece), asked me about it. Her son was writing a report for school and she wanted to verify the story. I decided to help.
Lombardi would certainly find his way onto the Sports Illustrated cover—the question is, how many, and was Fr. Dan in the photo, too? It turns out Lombardi had three covers. I even located a web page with images of every cover! Unfortunately, none of them showed Lombardi on the bench, and zooming in or using a magnifying glass didn’t reveal any priest nearby.
Of course, we know from the “Napoleon” legend (Family Legend) that stories sometimes get garbled along the way. Maybe the photo wasn’t on the cover, but insidethe magazine? It was worth checking out. Of the nearby libraries, the only one to have a complete collection of Sports Illustrated magazines was the main (downtown) Indianapolis branch. So I dropped my son at school one day, borrowed a digital camera from a friend, and drove the 10 miles to downtown Indy.
The magazine back issues were stored in the closed stacks. The librarian did a double-take when I handed her the slip requesting all the issues from 1959-1968! I explained what I was trying to find. A short time later she rolled a cart up to the table I’d commandeered and left me to my task.
How does one eat an elephant? Small bites! Since I had no clue as to when the photo was taken, I decided to start at the beginning and proceed chronologically. I briefly thought of skipping the non-football season issues, but remembered that sports get written about off-season, too. Skipping some, then maybe having to go back and check them anyway, seemed a bad plan. I also considered using the table of contents to decide what pages to check, but realized that was a bad plan, too. I opened the first issue and started flipping through, page by page.
It was like reliving my childhood. Sports names I hadn’t thought of in years jumped off the pages at me. The fashions of the 1960s came flooding back as the ads flew by. I remembered styles that would have been better forgotten. Since I was looking for a photo, rather than an article, I made reasonably good progress through the issues. They were old magazines, though, so I also needed to be reasonably careful with the pages.
Suddenly, there it was, on page 20 of the 19 December 1960 issue: a 4.75″ x 5.75″ black and white photo of Fr. Dan and . . . Paul Hornung.
Of course, not exactly chopped liver, either. It was the December 10th playoff game usually referred to as the “Mud Bowl.” It’s not the only game to earn that title, but being a playoff game increased its importance.
In the photo, Hornung is sitting on the bench warming up after having made what would be the only touchdown in the 13-0 shutout against the San Francisco 49ers. His number “5” is barely visible against his previously white jersey. Fr. Dan looks on from the side, in his overcoat and fedora, hand on his hip. That was an era when you went to the game far more dressed up than today’s fans do! Of course, Fr. Dan is not identified in the photo caption, or in the article, but from the few photos I have of him, there’s no mistake.
How did he end up at that game? Throughout his career as priest, Fr. Dan was assigned many places: Colombia, Wisconsin, Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and California, to name a few. Some were longer assignments (5-10 years) others were shorter (1-2 years). In 1960, he was in Galt, California, about 90 miles from Kezar Stadium. I’d certainly make that drive to see the Packers!
I was THRILLED with my find, photocopied the article and used the digital camera for a better shot of the photo. Unfortunately, the licensing fee for me to include it here is beyond my budget, but you can find the back issue at your local library with the details from above, or visit Getty Images and search for “Hornung bench.” You will easily recognize it from my description.
If you are wondering, yes, I DID search through the remaining issues in the unlikely event that there had been TWO photos—maybe one with Lombard! No such luck. I’ll settle for the one victory, and the satisfaction of knowing Fr. Dan was friends with some of the best football players and coaches in history.
¹”Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N7S8-XLQ : 18 May 2016), Gerard Paul Carroll, 21 Mar 1916; Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, reference/certificate 10641, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,308,595.
You are probably expecting to read about someone who shares my birthday, or has a birthday close in date to mine. With 5000+ people in my tree, finding a shared or near birthday shouldn’t be difficult. There are only 365 days (366, counting leap year), so you have to start doubling up fairly quickly. If that’s what you are looking for, though, you will be disappointed!
When I began my genealogy life (Start), I soon learned that three of my eight great grandparents—all on my dad’s side—were born 100 (or 99–a little fudge factor, there) years before me:
Frank Haas/Haws: born 3 March 1858, Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. He was the first or second child in his family born in the USA. I can’t quite nail down where his sister, Dorothy was born, but I’m sure for Frank. He stayed on the family farm (The Old Homestead) until he retired. None of his sons continued on as farmers.
Dorothea Harry : born 26 March 1858, Two Rivers, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was the second youngest child of Peter Haré/Hary/Harry and Elisabetha Bullea/Boullie. You met Dorothea’s mother in Travel, as she carried one child and kicked the other as they walked to the farm. Dorothea moved to the Chicago North Shore to work as live-in help for one of the families. That was not uncommon for the time, and one of the few ways a girl could find a way out of rural Wisconsin. That allowed her to meet Ignatz!
Ignatz Schweiger: born 13 May 1859, Niederhoefen, Bavaria, Germany. He was the 2nd youngest child of a cheese maker. He came to America about 1882, as a butcher. How he learned that trade, I’m not really sure, but the family’s life revolved around that, and later, the restaurant. Everyone in the family worked there at some point (Black Sheep), and it was how my grandparents met each other (Invite to Dinner). How he and Dorothea met, I don’t know, though I suspect it was at church. I doubt that either one had much free time.
As a teenager, the fact that I born 100 years after these direct ancestors caught my eye, and connected me to those great grandparents a little differently than the other seven. I obviously never met them, and my dad knew only two of them, but somehow they just seemed closer.
The generational gaps from them to me were a little wider than typical. In genealogy, if we’re trying to decide when a parent’s birth might have occurred, we start looking 20-25 years before the birth of their oldest child. But this descendancy follows:
middle and younger children to
middle children (Ed & Victoria) to
youngest (Dad) to
so we have 29 to 37 year gaps. Getting those to come out evenly to 100 is a little tricky—like when the cash register rings up with an even dollar amount, instead of stray cents. It’s not impossible, but seems to happen rarely—certainly less often than one in 100 transactions!
So is there any great significance to the last two digits of their birth years matching mine? Not really. It’s one of those serendipitous things that pops up in family trees—coincidences that have us wondering if they are accidental. None of my immediate cousins can make this same claim–not even with the other great grandparents. One of my children, though, was born 100 years after a great grandfather on my mom’s side, while another was born between two great grandmothers—so 99 and 101 years later. That’s something I never even thought about until just now.
Should I cue the Twilight Zone or X-Files music, yet? No, but I will probably continue to try and notice when these quirky coincidences happen. Maybe life isn’t as random as it sometimes seems.
You met my grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, in Invite to Dinner. He was born 12 February 1887 in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin—in the house you met in The Old Homestead. His father, Frank, was a farmer, and I’m sure Ed did his share of farm work growing up. But I always knew of him as a carpenter.
He wasn’t a woodworker-type carpenter—tables, chairs, and whatnot. He was what I would call a house framer–building structures. I’m sure carpenters have a more appropriate term, but that’s the simplest term that comes to my mind. He did, however, make a couple of end tables that have stayed in the family. My cousin, Barb, has one she inherited from her dad, and my brother has another, inherited from our dad:
Each table is fairly simple. They don’t match. I’m not sure if they were even made at the same time, or if Victoria said, “Hey, I need a table for next to this chair,” and he pieced together something with the wood he had handy at the time. Next time it was a different wood selection. Nevertheless, both are older than me, so probably have 3/4 of a century of use already.
So how did Edward Haws morph from farmer to carpenter? I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have found information allowing me to create a timeline of his work life. In the 1900 census¹ he was still in school—probably not for much longer, as he had only an eighth grade education.² I’m sure his father had him working hard on the farm, too. What has me puzzled, though, is when and how he made the switch from farming (what he grew up with) to carpentry?
The 1905 Wisconsin State Census³ has him off the family farm at age 18—working for Charles Kasten for 7 months as a “hired man”—”day laborer” in nearby Two Rivers. Kasten was a farmer, so the “day laborer” seems a little odd to me. There are other entries in that column for “farm laborer,” so there’s clearly a distinction. The enumerator would have been told the occupation, so someone (Ed? his employer?) saw Ed as something other than a farm worker. Is this when the shift started? Granted, on a farm you are going to end up doing a lot of building repair, and construction, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. There were also two carpenters on the farm adjacent. Did they help him hone his skills? Who knows?
Family lore (AKA probably my dad or Uncle Henry) has Ed moving to Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, when he was 21—about 1908. Unfortunately, Ed is AWOL (so far!) in the 1910 census. Neither he nor his older brother, John, are on the family farm. I even checked out the Kasten family Ed was working for five years earlier—nada. Nor do I find him in Glencoe, near the Schweiger family, which he will marry into in four years.
Realizing the last name has lots of misspelling potential, I paged through 4 of the 8 enumeration districts in New Trier township, with no success. My eyes needed a break before tackling the rest of them! Barb did the same thing in Wisconsin. We found lots of other Haws relatives, but no sign of him. Several options exist:
The enumerators missed him entirely (he was young, single, and possibly moving around)
His name(s) got horribly mangled, so we can’t find him in the indexes
Whoever he was lodging with was careless with providing information—either missed or wrong
He was living and working some place we aren’t looking at
More than one of of the above!
He and Victoria marry in 1914, and they needed to date prior to that, but it’s possible he wasn’t living in Glencoe in 1910. Without knowing a specific location, that’s a LOT of microfilmed/digitized images to page through between Manitowoc and Chicago . . .
At some point in the 1910s, he built 2 houses on next to each other in Glencoe—one for his in-laws, and one for himself. His 3 older children were born in that house on Woodlawn, and that’s where he was living for the 1917 WWI draft.4 So in June, he was a gardener, day laborer. I do know he liked to do gardening. Maybe he had that as a sideline, so if he wasn’t working on a house construction job at the time, I can see him listing gardener as his occupation, and not carpenter.
Some time in the next 9 months, he moved the family back to Wisconsin, settling in Manitowoc (town), to work in the shipbuilding yards. Their last 2 children—George and my dad—were born there, and the 1920 census5 lists shipbuilding as his occupation. By 1925, the family is back in the Chicago area, renting in Highwood6 while Ed built the family’s new home in Deerfield.
The 19307 and 1940² censuses list his occupation as carpenter. What they don’t tell you, is that he was a member of the carpenter’s union, and wouldn’t work on a non-union construction job. As difficult as times were during the Depression, adding that limitation to where he would or wouldn’t work would have made them more so. Nor do those documents tell you that he helped with the construction of the rectory where my parents got married (Going to the Chapel), or other “side projects.”
For instance, when my parents bought their 1st house in 1952, it had no garage. Grandpa came out and helped my dad build a 2-car garage. And the two of them constructed custom storage in the upstairs hallway, using unfinished dressers for the base, and building a cupboard top above it, all the way to the ceiling. Whether he constructed anything similar in his other children’s houses, I don’t know, but it would seem likely.
He died in 1966, at the age of 79. but I don’t know when he retired from work. How and where my grandfather learned his carpentry trade, I don’t know, but it was a huge part of his life, and seemed to spill down to later generations, including (but not limited to):
my dad, who rebuilt the front half of the garage next door to us (which partly burned down)
2 of my brothers, who developed considerable skill in woodworking
at least 2 of my children, who also “kick around” in wood a good bit. You know how kids are—we don’t always hear everything!
Is there a “woodworking gene”? I don’t know, but part of me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised!
¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
²1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Deerfield, e.d. 49-107; Page 14B; household number 301; line 48; Edward HAWS household; accessed 10 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 53; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 828; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
³1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 Septermber 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.
4“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Edward Matt HAWS, serial no. 933, order no. 60, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112. accessed 6 September 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.
51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Ward 6, e.d. 106; Page 9A; dwelling number 1860; family number 169; line 36; Edward M. HOWE [HAWS] household; accessed 7 September 2018. Edward M. HOWE [HAWS], age 32; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1994; digital image, Ancestry.com. (https://www.ancestry.com).
6“U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.
71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Deerfield, e.d. 49-17; Page 2A; dwelling number 23; family number 23; line 21; Edward HAUSS household; accessed 10 September 2018; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).
Music links us to a time, place, and people, and can trigger memories, just as smell does. I still remember walking around town with girlfriends the summer before 8th grade, figuring out the words to “American Pie” –before album liners and the internet solved that problem.
I wouldn’t really say my family is musically inclined. We are not clones of the Von Trapps, and there’s no “Pa Ingalls” with a fiddle lurking up-tree from me to go on about. I remember watching with dismay when the used upright got carted out of our living room and sold before I was old enough for lessons. My older siblings got them, but the combination of the cost and the annoyance of having to nag them to practice got old for my parents. The money could be put to better use, and having fewer topics to nag your children about is always a good thing!
My sister enjoyed the piano, however, eventually obtaining one for her own household, which she did play. One brother went the guitar route during high school (didn’t everyone in the 1960s?) and is still fairly good–though I don’t know that he plays much anymore. I dabbled in clarinet at school, but realized I was no Benny Goodman, and dropped it after a while.
My parents enjoyed listening to music, so we had records in the house. Mom even taught me some songs (beyond nursery rhymes) when I was young. It was what we did in the car in the pre-Walkman/iPod/iPad days. Unfortunately, I learned the lame “if one of the bottles should happen to fall” version of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I guess she figured it would help me with counting, and was more appropriate for a 4- or 5-year old! It wasn’t until junior high when I learned the more typical “take one down and pass it around” lyrics!
The other memorable song in my life was “Johnny Rebeck.” The spelling is approximate, but that’s how it sounded. If you Google it, there are lots of variations in name spelling and lyrics. Below is what I remember singing:
There was a little Dutch man, his name was Johnny Rebeck.
He was a dealer in sausages and sauerkraut and speck.
He made the finest sausages that ever have been seen,
And one day he invented a brand new sausage machine
Oh, Mr. Johnny Rebeck, how could you be so mean? I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine. Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will never more be seen. They’ll all be ground to sausages in Johnny Rebeck’s machine.
One day a little fat boy came walking in the store.
He bought a pound of sausages and dropped them on the floor.
He then began to whistle. He whistled up a tune,
And soon the little sausages were dancing around the room.
One day the thing got busted, the old thing wouldn’t go.
So Johnny, he climbed inside, to see what made it so.
His wife, she had a nightmare, and walking in her sleep,
She gave the crank a twist (sometimes “deuce”) of a yank, and Johnny Rebeck was meat!
Rather a macabre little ditty! Explains a lot about me, right? Mom knew the song as a girl (1920s) but doesn’t remember if she learned the song from her parents, grandparents, or friends. She grew up in a town with a high concentration of residents with German ancestry (including her own). I’m not sure if “Dutchman” is intended as is, or possibly “Deutchman” (“German man”) instead (like with Pennsylvania Dutch)? Or was it intended as a slam against the Dutch? I’m not sure many Dutch settled in Chicagoland, so they would miss their target. Sauerkraut and speck/spek are a part of both cultures, so neither is eliminated.
The only origins I find for the song dub it as a scout song. I learned it about the same time as “99 Bottle of Beer,” from Mom, NOT scouts.
What, you are wondering, does this have to do with genealogy?Well, nothing–and yet everything. It’s an illustration of how information–in this case a nonsense song–can get lost over time. A half century of disuse causes memories to get fuzzy. The same thing occurs in other areas of our family history–unless they are recorded somewhere. That’s why I write this blog. Sometimes I’m sorting out a genealogy puzzle (complete with footnotes!), and sometimes I’m documenting the bits and pieces of family lore I’ve picked up along the way. I try to make sense of them, put them in context, and just remember them, before I forget!
I didn’t teach my children this song, though possibly they heard it once or twice. The mindset when they were young wouldn’t have approved. Raffi and Fred Penner were more acceptable, so I caved. Of course, now that they are seeing it here, I may never be given access to my grandchildren, again (no, I haven’t taught it to them, either!). But at least it’s recorded and remembered.
Of course, a song is nothing without its tune! This one was very fun and catchy. I found this link: Johnny Rebeck melody so you can hear it for yourself. Other videos exist, but they were just *wrong*. I didn’t care about the words, just the tune. I’m certainly not sending you to the one sounding country-ish. Eww! Others were just plain scary . . . This one was the closest–coincidentally it’s coming from scouts!
Maybe for a Christmas prompt I’ll break out “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe” for you . . .
Growing up, Independence Day was a big day in Hinsdale. There was the parade. There were fireworks! I never got taken to those. Most importantly, there was the CARNIVAL! It came to town for 3-4 days, setting up in Robbins Park. This was the mid-1960s, when practically the only theme park was Disneyland. Sure, Santa’s Village and a few other amusement parks were around–basically stationary carnivals. They weren’t that close, or cheap, and parents didn’t really take kids to amusement parks back then–at least mine didn’t.
But once a year the amusement park came to us. Dad usually “closed up” the business for two weeks in July to take our vacation then. When I was little, it seemed he waited until after July 4th to start the camping trip, so we’d be home for the holiday. If I was lucky, he’d find some odd jobs for me to do to earn money for the rides–weeding between the bushes, cleaning up the clippings after trimming them, catching up his invoice filing. At 25 cents per ride, the dollar or so I made didn’t go very far. I learned to choose wisely!
One activity that was NEVER part of our celebration was setting off fireworks. Never. Ever. Did not happen. Not even sparklers, and they aren’t even fireworks! It was Dad’s rule, and there was no exception to be made. When I asked why not, he said when he was growing up, he knew kids who had lost an eye from fireworks accidents. Kids can be careless, plus he didn’t trust they were assembled correctly/safely in the first place. He wasn’t going to risk having that happen to us.
He never told us who these kids were (not that we would have known them!), but I don’t think he was making it up. If his only reason was that he didn’t think they were safe, he would have left it at that. He wouldn’t see the need to manufacture a story on top.
Fair enough. He had his reasons. I countered with, “You can set them off, and we’ll stay way back.” It seemed a reasonable compromise. That wasn’t going to happen, either. Then he’d tell the story about the time Grandpa Haws (his dad) bought a roman candle to set off. I guess he didn’t let his kids get fireworks, either! Somehow they had convinced him it would be fine if he was in charge of it.
My dad & his siblings were thrilled! Until it got lit. Apparently the roman candle was packed incorrectly, and instead of going up, it went sideways, around the house, completely out of control, until it burned itself out. That sealed it for my dad. No fireworks.
Occasionally I’d revisit the sparklers option. “Come on, Dad, sparklers don’t go up in the air. Nothing can happen.”
“You wave them around, someone isn’t watching, and something bad happens. No.”
I gave up. I was not going to win that battle in this lifetime. I also recently learned from my mom that when they lived on Adams Street (before my time!), they walked my older siblings over to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at Robbins Park. Apparently one or more of those (supposedly professional?) fireworks misfired, landing on a neighboring house roof. Mom & Dad hustled everybody home, and that was that. I’m sure that after that, fireworks at Disney parks were the only ones Mom & Dad ever saw in person!
So, fast forward several years. It’s 1970 or 71. Dad increased the summer vacation to four weeks, and now we usually left before the 4th. My three oldest siblings were out of the house, and it’s just my brother Bill & me, and Pepper (our dog). And of course, Mom & Dad. We were headed to Colorado, towing our Fan travel trailer behind the car. We stopped for gas (the good old days, when a car pulling a trailer got 10 MPG!) and restrooms. At the corner of the station was a fireworks booth. We might have actually been in a state where they were even legal! Bill, over 18 at this point, walked over and purchased some. I don’t know how much he bought, or what the cost was. Dad saw him walking back from the booth, carrying something, and said, “That’s not coming in the car.”
“I don’t know if he’ll give me my money back.”
“You should have thought of that, before. It’s still not coming in the car. And we’re leaving soon. Take care of it.” No raised voice, no drama, just very matter-of-fact.
Bill had no choice but to go back to the guy, who I’m sure watched/heard the exchange. He wouldn’t refund Bill’s money, so Bill threw the fireworks out, and the vacation continued. Apparently we settled for fabric fireworks:
In case you’re wondering, no, my dad did not get more permissive with his grandchildren. They never had fireworks–or sparklers–around him, either! And yes, Bill gave me permission to tell this story–though the photo was a last minute inspiration. While I can’t tell you what Bill’s fireworks policy was with his own son, my kids were as deprived of fireworks as I was.
For the record, I’m no more comfortable with Father’s Day than I am with Mother’s Day. But I’ve said my piece, so no need to rehash it.
You learned about Dad’s wedding last week (Going to the Chapel). Fast forward to five kids later. When I was growing up, he was usually busy with something. “Free time” was in short supply, though I recall a game of Careers with him one Saturday morning. Of course, he dozed off (he was lying on the couch with the board on the floor), but he worked hard, and he was tired! I can’t begrudge him that.
He ran his rug cleaning business out of our home (Taxes), so even if he was working late, I could run down to say goodnight. I still get nostalgic at the scent of cleaning solvents . . . and I learned how to roll up area rugs like a pro before I started school. Yeah, he could manage them by himself, but an extra pair of hands never hurt. And maybe I got to stay up a bit later . . .
Weekends frequently involved taking care of yard work and home maintenance–after business matters! I quickly learned the best way to snag time with him was to tag along. So Saturday mornings there’d be a trip to the bank, and frequently a stop at Holland Hardware to pick up whatever was needed for that day’s project. Buying spray paint? It was my job to shake the can all the way home. I learned about tools–what they were called and how they were used. Sometimes I even scored a trip up to the roof of the house! When my parents bought the bungalow next door for a rental house, I learned about hanging wallpaper, transplanting bushes, and weeding.
Of course, Dad didn’t always work! He showed me how to make huts back in the pasture (open land behind our backyard) with the branches trimmed from the trees, and leaves piled on. We even made an A-frame hut with scrap lumber and the old storm windows from our front porch when Dad made new ones. What girl doesn’t need her own A-frame?
Then there were kite-flying lessons. No small balls of kite string in our house. Dad would let me use an almost empty spool of waxed carpet thread. He’d slide an 18-inch length of 1″x1″ pine through the center of the spool for handles. Man, those kites flew up! No matter how far we let them out, we never ran out of string, and the string rarely broke. One spring we had the brilliant idea to buy a box kite. Mistake! I don’t think we ever got that sucker up in the air, much as we tried. Whatever the trick is, we never discovered it.
Aside from life lessons learned from kite-flying (or failing!) and wallpaper-hanging, Dad made sure I could take care of myself. The spring I was in Driver’s Ed, he made me change the snow tires to regular tires on the 1967 Galaxie 500 AND the 1973 Pinto. This was before the days of front wheel drive and all-weather tires. I got to jack up each car, undo the lug nuts, remove each wheel (easy!), mount the new ones (harder!) and tighten them all up again. I had no excuse to be a “damsel in distress” if I got a flat. He also had me under the hood, learning how to check the oil, fill washer fluid, and know what the basic car parts were (long before engines were computerized–when the workings were simpler!). I am no mechanic, but can at least talk to one and not sound like a total idiot–or be completely clueless.
Dad was certainly no feminist, but long before women’s rights was a “thing,” he didn’t restrict my sister or me to typical gender roles. We weren’t trying to get on the boys’ football or basketball teams, but Math and Science were necessary classes for the two of us. Home-Economics-type things we could learn from Mom. Finances and investing? Mandatory! You already heard about my doing my own tax returns. I was a 22-year-old on my first job shaking my head over older co-workers who didn’t want to tie up $2000 each year in an IRA account.
Hair-brained, off-the-wall interests? Those were encouraged and supported, if it was feasible. I remember getting hooked on astronomy as a kid and wanting to build a device to measure altitude and azimuth of stars. The book I was reading showed one. Dad helped me cut out and paint a plywood base, figure out how to measure and mark the 360 degrees around that base, and build the post sticking up (paint stirring stick) with a movable protractor, straw, and sinker on a string for finding the altitude. Did it ever get used? Unfortunately, no, because after completion we realized:
we had no level place to set it during use, and more importantly
there were too many trees and buildings to be able to do much with it!
Oops! Regardless, we had fun, and I learned a lesson about building things–and maybe to think through the plan a little better, next time.
Did I learn everything in life from Dad? No. But caught or taught, I learned a lot of important things from him. Definitely time well spent. Thanks, Dad!