Memories of my Dad

Sixty-nine years ago today, my father was born and it’s been just over 20 years since he died. After recent conversations and events, I have been reminiscing and sharing different memories about him. Listed below are some of the stories I’ve been told, memories I have, and things I learned from him.

  • He was a mechanical engineer and wore a pocket protector to work everyday. He always had a mechanical pencil and a felt tip pen with him. My brother and I probably destroyed quite a few of his pens over the years. A few years ago, I saw a fellow student with the same pen and I practically snatched it from their hand. It took me back to my childhood and reconnected me in a small way to my dad.

  • My mother tells the story that when he showed up for their second date, he was wearing overalls. That was also the first time he met her mother. He was not a redneck, he just did his own thing. When he got married, he had 30+ dress shirts. That way he only had to do laundry once a month.

  • I have two vivid clothing related memories of him as well. Once we were at a state park for a picnic. It was hot and he proceeded to take his pants off in the middle of the park. Unbeknownst to me, he had shorts on underneath but I was mortified either way. He was also wearing black socks with his shorts. The other memory was when he showed up to our Halloween carnival wearing a pink tank top, a tutu, and carrying a magic wand. My dad had a gut, jet black hair and a full beard. It’s funny to think about now but I was embarrassed then.

  • He introduced us to our first computer, a TI-99/4A in the early 80s. He brought home a trackball for us to try before most computers were even using mice. We also had a speech synthesizer. We would make it say all kinds of silly things. Learning BASIC and experimenting with that computer got me hooked on technology. I think my dad would be a huge tech head today. He would love playing with the new smartphones and probably dabble in app development. He could appreciate Apple products if nothing else for the engineering involved.

  • I remember his handwriting was immaculate. He wrote in all upper case, probably a result of his engineering background. He was also very methodical in what he did. One example was the little notebooks he would keep in the glove compartment of our car to log the mileage. He wanted to know that we were getting consistent fuel economy.

  • I remember riding with him in our old ‘67 baby blue Chevy pickup. The bed had rusted out years ago and so he had replaced it with plywood. The shifter was on the column. I would watch him as he moved the gear shift around trying to find second gear.

  • As an engineer, he would work on projects in the shed. He also did most of the remodeling in any of our homes. I remember when we were changing an old bathroom into my new bedroom. He was trying to remove the old toilet. He wrapped a chain around it and began pulling. He lost his grip, fell backwards and landed on his butt. He got back up and eventually got the toilet pulled out. He wrote my name and the date of the remodel on the piece of wood that covered the hole. That way the future owners would find it find if they tore up the floor. When we tore out a wall in our house in Louisiana, he gave me a crow bar and let me show the sheet rock who was boss.

  • He started building us a tree house just before he died. He didn’t do anything half way. This “tree” house stood 10 feet tall and was free-standing. The legs were joined to the frame with metal plates and lag bolts. We had to use our old Chevy truck to pull the legs upright.

  • Another time I wanted to build a go-cart. He tried to get me to make a light-weight version that would be easier to steer and push back up the hill. I had in my mind that I needed to replicate a car body. I built this giant wooden box and then tried to make it into a go-cart. He helped me devise a way to steer and came up with a lever-activated braking system. I was so proud of my go-cart. I got on the road and headed down the hill. Everything worked as designed. However, it was really difficult to push this giant box back up the hill. I didn’t use it much after that inaugural run. He could have easily taken over the project and done things the “right” way but he let me try and fail.

I can’t point to any particular moment where he imparted some earth-shattering piece of wisdom. However, there is so much of how he acted and who he was that shaped my life and my character. I just wish he were still hear to share these memories with.