He was a special man! I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: he loved God, his family, and baseball! In that order. Oh, I suppose if I were honest, I’d have to say he wasn’t perfect. After all, he went through the same growing up process that we all do. I’ve heard many stories from him and others, about when he was a young lad first getting to know about life’s ups and downs.
One often told tale was about the first time he came home drunk. Possibly the only time! Everyone didn’t have a car in those days. Those who didn’t, either walked or rode the bus, depending on how far they were going. The bus stop was about a quarter of a mile from my dad’s home. When his father, my Grandpa, realized how late his son was out on this particular Saturday night, he headed for the bus stop to meet the last bus of the night. Sure enough, when it stopped, my dad got off, reeking of alcohol. When he saw his dad, he knew he was in a heap of trouble. Trying to smooth things over, he said, “Hi there, Pop! How ya’ doin’?” Well, Grandpa wasn’t so cheerful. He grabbed him by the shoulders, spun him around pointing in the direction of home and said, “Let’s go, boy!”
As my dad started walking, every time he took a step, Grandpa kicked him in the seat of the pants. By the time they got home, he could barely sit down. As I grew up, my dad laughingly repeated this story many times; and the way he remembered it, the soreness lasted for days.
It appears he had his wild days like most young men do. There were many tales about his strict father struggling to keep him in line. But those are just stories to me. It seems as if those swift kicks did what my grandfather intended. What I remember is a responsible father who worked hard and provided for us and played with me and took me places. A dad whose smile is etched in my brain and whose goodness will live forever in my children, upon whom he made a lasting impression!