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Sunday, June 17, 2007

DAD

A lot of times when I think of Dad the mental picture I have of him
is of the way he looked nearly everyday, dressed in work clothes,
mostly in green but sometimes gray and wearing low cut tan work
boots with white sox. A pack of Camels would be in the shirt chest
pocket and he’d be sitting at the kitchen table, coffee mug in hand
as he looked out the window. That’s how I usually found him when
I got up for breakfast in the morning or when I came out to the
kitchen just before dinner to help set the table.



It’s appropriate that I see him in my minds eye dressed for work
because except for the last month of his life Dad was a worker.



As I’ve said before, he was born up in Bethel, Oxford County,
Maine and grew up in Upton and Wilson’s Mills. He left there to
enlist in the Army during World War 2 and ended up living the
rest of his life down here in Massachusetts. But I think he was still
a Mainer at heart. He listened more than talked in conversations,
nodding or smiling at whatever someone said, then would finally
make a comment or ask a question before going back into listener
mode. A typical taciturn Mainer.


Dad worked hard all his life at various jobs: landscaping; a stint in
the fledgling electronics industry at Atlas Engineering, and LFE:
Railway Express; and the Post Office. But for most part he worked
in the glass business installing windshields, mirrors, and windows.
He was good with his hands at building and repairing things. When
we moved into the house in Abington he extended the concrete
front steps of the house, converted the breezeway into another
room complete with sliding glass doors, and built a playroom in
the cellar that became my new bedroom after my little brother
was born and my old bedroom was turned into Phil's nursery.


He was not much for a display of emotions but he was there for us
kids to put together toys and bikes and as we grew older to help us
when our cars broke down. When Phil came along Dad almost
acted out the joke about the nervous expectant father. Mom told
him it was time and he got the suitcase in the car and was out the
driveway before he realized he that had left Mom standing on the
breezeway.



If Dad had any regrets I think one might have been washing out of
the Air Corps back during the war; he couldn’t take high altitude.
When we were living in Malden he’d sometimes bring Cheryl and I
over to the small Revere Airport to watch the planes land and take
off. Maybe he was thinking of what might have been while sitting
there in the car?



Dad and Mom were quite active in the VFW from the mid 1960’s
on and they were fixtures at the Saturday night dances at the Hall.
Dad usually wore his blue blazer or tan sport coat for those. I don’t
recall him as dancing to many fast dances when I saw him dance
but slow songs would find him out there dancing with Mom.


Life was never all that particularly easy for my folks financially.
Like a lot of folks they had ups and downs and often were working
more than one job. But they kept us fed and clothed and healthy.
They were just ordinary people raising their family as best they
could.



One day after Dad died the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My
Head” came on the radio and Mom teared up. That's how I found
out it was one of Dad’s favorite songs and that when they played it
at the Saturday Dances Dad would actually sing it along with Mom
as they danced.



Dad? Singing?



But I’ve thought about the lyrics to the song a few times since
then and the more I thought about it I realized how that song
fit my Dad:

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head
But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red
Cryin's not for me'
Cause
I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'
Because I'm free
Nothin's worryin' me
-words by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach @1969

5 comments:

Janice said...

Bill,

The description of your dad is very similar to my own Dad, except for the song favorite. To be honest I don't remember my Dad singing, humming, or otherwise listening to music, although my Mom always had some kind of music playing in the house.

So is the official title for a person born in Maine a Mainer, Mainite, or Maniac?

Janice

Miriam said...

What a wonderful tribute to your father, Bill! Thanks for sharing your memories!

Bill West said...

Thanks, Janice!

I think Mainer or Maniac are the
preferred terms. Or at least they
were the ones I recall Mom using.
Mainer mostly;Mainiac was only used a few times when Dad did something that made Mom either
laugh or angry!

Bill West said...

Thanks Miriam!

I had a harder time writing this than I thought because I kept thinking of something else I should put in it. But those other memories will be posted later.

Ken Spangler said...

Bill,

I know how you feel. I wanted to put so much into my post but you have to stop somewhere!

Wonderful post. It does in some way remind me of my dad. He was always working, even after retirement. He loved to dance. His favorite song was "Stir It Up!"

Good memories!

Ken