Monday, March 3, 2014
SOL # 3 My father-in-law
He is a devoted family man, and yet at age 89, is the only one remaining in his immediate family of 6. He is a wealth of history. I try to collect details of his life and the world as it was when he grew up. I hope I can give you a glimpse of how different things were.
He graduated high school and left home at the young age of 16. He spend one summer working for the Civilian Conservation Corps. He lied about his age so he could join the Merchant Marines. He traveled the world, went to radar school and hitchhiking home for holidays. One time he made it home from the Gulf Coast almost faster than the average person could drive it.
He went to California with a buddy and took odd jobs to survive. He left their car sitting by the highway because it quit working and hitchhiked home. In later years, he visited the same restaurant he once had worked in, just to check on things.
He came home and established a taxi service in the rural area. He usually charged 25 cents per mile, but for one elderly lady who made weekly visits to her family. He charged her 75 cents to make a round trip of 8 miles.
He was industrious, always looking for a way to survive. He worked for a company who supplied pinball machines and records for local businesses who had a juke box. He became quite good at repairing mechanical things. To support his family he started working for a company, driving an 18 wheeler. He was only home on weekends and then the family would pile in the old car and drive somewhere. To this day, he can recall highway numbers and sights you will see as you travel along the road.
He finally bought his Pop's lumber business and stayed home to raise his 4 children. The 3 boys helped him in the family business. All still work there today along with 3 grandsons. Although he has retired, he often makes a trip to the post office to collect the mail for them. The children check on him daily, taking him something for lunch or out to eat.
The family celebrates everyone's birthdays and holidays together. A huge party is being planned to celebrate his 90th birthday later this year.
He is a complex man, dichotomous and a mystery to me.
Just before I married his eldest son, we traveled to market. Six people riding three hours in a car. He lights up a cigar. I loved the smell and hated the smoke.
He read medical books and helped care for his wife. She had diabetes and required lots of medicine. He was always adjusting it according to what he had read.
Every Christmas, he made sure he gave all his children similar gifts or at least spent a similar amount.
Never has he make a difference in any of his children. His sense of fairness is always at the forefront.
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