Archive for June 13th, 2018


June 13th, 2018

Many of us are proud of our fathers, and with Father’s Day fast approaching, we’re definitely expecting to see posts praising our dads. OK, so, here you go.

My dad was relatively short in stature at about 5’6,” but incredibly tall in my eyes. Although Dad held jobs that usually preferred a college education, and he didn’t have one, he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever been around. Whenever something interested him, he attacked it with wild abandon. When it was iron furnaces and cannonballs, we traveled all around our area seeking cannon balls with bent coat hangers or twigs as dowsing rods. When he became enamored with electronics, we got to play with every type of electronic analytical machine that he could buy used. (We didn’t have much money.)

Dad dove into bees, not literally, and learned all about them. Then, as he reached his 40s, he turned to our community. First he decided that any peaceful little community should have gray squirrels so he drove back and forth to Jeannette, where a friend would live-catch squirrels for him. He populated our little town with these frisky bushy tailed devils. He loved to watch them, but, unfortunately, our neighbors loved to shoot and eat them.

After his squirrel adventures, dad turned to getting water and sewage into our little village, then a bridge, and finally, a Coal and Coke Museum. During his work days, he was able to convince an entire community along the Mon River to work together to bring in the Pittsburgh Wind Symphony for summer concerts.

To say that he didn’t teach me a lot would be a bona fide distortion. Every night he’d drill me in recitation of vocabulary words. We had a large box of vocabulary words that he practiced with me, words that won’t appear in this column because they are too obtuse. His charge to me was that I’d learn five new obscure words from the lexicon each and every day, use them in sentences until I was comfortable with them so I’d get a great score on my College Board exam. (That worked in English but not so much in math.)

Dad also taught me to spade a garden, control copperheads that were about to strike me with a two pronged snake stick, shoot rats at the local dump, identify all poisonous plants, recycle bottles, make compost piles, shovel coal into the coal bin, stoke a coal fired furnace and then empty the ashes from that furnace, solder, use a hand saw, pound nails, change the oil and do body work on a car, and most importantly, avoid physical harm by outsmarting my potential opponents. He taught me how to make money from a lemonade stand, from grass cutting, and running errands for retired people. He also taught me how to manage my paper route like a business. He would sit with me and go over my collections, explain how to approach the two deadbeats on my route and how to up-sale my customers into getting the Sunday paper.

Our grade school was only a few blocks away, but I always begged my parents to allow me to periodically take my lunch to school.

Dad wanted me to feel special, so he bought white lunch bags. I was the only kid in the school who ever had a white lunch bag. He also encouraged my imagination by buying me little tablets and making sure I always had lots of pens and pencils.

He bought me my first bike and car but then taught me how to save for the second of each. Above all he taught me how to be a good, loving, kind, resourceful, provider and Father.

Dad smoked until 1960, but he died in 1975 from lung cancer. It was an outrageous loss for my family and for the world. Love ya, Dad.