Daddy lost his father, before I was born. My Grandad and I haven’t met yet. Grandad wasn’t around to teach Daddy for very long, but he must have been around long enough to teach him the most important stuff. Daddy will be 82 years old in a couple of weeks (March 30). Daddy taught me a lot of important stuff!
Daddy is still teaching me. One of the most important things, I am learning from him just now – No one is perfect and it’s alright if I am not. I am blessed. I hope he teaches me many more years.
Daddy probably can’t tell you exactly how he teaches me. I’m not sure I know how he does either. I just know he does. Some of the most important things he taught me are how to work hard, count stars, love, and make money.
And he taught me about magic trucks.
When I was a little boy, I remember Daddy coming home from work. Some days he would come home tired, and was so glad to be home, he would take his shoes off at the front door and lay down in the living room floor. I remember the gray, gas company uniform he wore as he laid on his stomach. I am sure he tolerated me jumping on his back. I can still hear him grunting “Ohhh,” when I did.
Mom always had supper ready when he got home. We ate together every evening. After supper, we would go out and play. At night we did homework and watched television. All was good in the world.
I used to hide at bedtime. Sometimes, as I sat in the floor watching TV, I would inch my way to a spot behind a chair, hoping no one saw me, so they would forget about bedtime. I never wanted to go to bed.
Once, I reluctantly got ready for bed and cried my way to the bedroom. I crawled in my bed wondering what thoughts I could muster to help keep the monsters away. As I laid there trying to fall asleep, I heard knocking on the window. For some reason, I don’t remember being scared. I hurried to the window to see who it was. It was Daddy! He motioned for me to open the window.
When I opened the window, Daddy put his arms through and said,
I jumped into Daddy’s arms and he hoisted me out the window.
I said, “Where are we going?”
“I just wanted you to come and look at the stars with me. Let’s sit out here on the porch for a while.”
“Can you help me count the stars”
I remember trying to count them but new ones kept appearing. I couldn’t keep
up. So, Daddy decided we should go up on the hill, out in our back yard and
try counting them again. I remember sitting in Daddy’s lap as we looked up at
the sky. I couldn’t count very far, but if I could count to a gazillion, it wouldn’t
be far enough to count them all!
Daddy worked in Huntington, but we lived across the Ohio River on Buffalo Creek Road, near South Point, Ohio. He drove over the river, on the 5th Streetbridge, every day. We use to go across the river a lot. That’s where everything was – grocery stores, gas stations, banks, and downtown.
One day, we were driving over the bridge, and I asked Daddy why he had to
go to work. He told me he had to, so he could make money. I envisioned
Daddy making money by turning the crank of a machine that looked like a big pencil sharpener, but it cranked out money.
You put dough in the top of the machine and when you turned the handle, little dough lifesavers came out and turned into coins. You could turn a wheel on the front to make a different size dough coin.
I don’t remember why I didn’t think it was odd to have a hole in the middle of coins, but a vision of the money making machine that looked like a pencil sharpener is clear in my memory, almost like a photograph.
Another time, while we were driving over the bridge, Daddy told me he loved
me so much, he would jump off the bridge for me, if he had to.
I said, “Daddy, I don’t think that will be necessary!”
I remember when Daddy got a big promotion at work. He was going to sell gas. He was a Business Promotion Representative. The Columbia Gas company gave him a new car!
The best thing about his new job though, was a crazy gas truck. Daddy got to bring it home sometimes. It was a big white pick up truck, and it had big, red, blue and yellow polka dots all over it.
The bed was covered, but it had a half dozen or so, gas street lights, sticking out of it. Sticking up too, in the very back, was a gas grill. It was one of the coolest trucks I ever saw! Just riding around in it was really cool. None of my friends’ Daddies had any thing like it! It was even cool sitting in the driveway.
But the coolest thing of all was what we got to do in that truck. It was a magic party truck! Daddy took us in the truck, to the Sears and Roebuck store on 29’Th Street in Huntington. They were having a tent sale for appliances, lawn mowers and such. He parked the truck out by a big, above ground swimming pool they had set up on the parking lot.
The pool was full of fish! For a quarter you could get a little fishing pole with a hook, some pork rind for bait, and fish in it! Daddy put on an apron and chef’s hat, lit the gas street lights on the truck, fired up the grill, and started cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. We lit up the parking lot for half a block! All kinds of people came by to get a hot dog or hamburger. And, they caught fish.
I believe there is more than a fair chance, the gas truck was magic.
One Christmas, when Daddy was a little boy, around 5 or 6 years old, he got a toy truck. It was filled with nuts and candy. Nuts and candy were great Christmas presents, but a toy was really great. A toy truck was awesome!
Daddy was 5 in 1936. During the Great Depression, there were many homeless families traveling and looking for farm work, or any other kind they could get. That Christmas, a man and his little boy came by their house. The man was looking for work. Grandad talked to the man for a while, about where he might find work, as Daddy played outside with his new toy truck and the little boy.
The man said he couldn’t buy his little boy anything for Christmas so he didn’t get any presents. While the man and the little boy were leaving, Grandad, asked Daddy to give his new truck to the man’s little boy.
Daddy has told us this story for years. I know it is one of the memories etched deep into his soul. I am pretty sure, that little toy truck was magic too.