Sunday, April 21, 2013

Childhood Story #7

“My Mom wouldn’t let anyone cut my hair so I had those long Fauntleroy curls.  Back then little boys wore dresses so when they sent me to kindergarten everyone thought I was a girl.  They wouldn’t let me use the boys’ room so I snuck out back and peed on the coal pile.”

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Childhood Story #6

“One day when [I forget which brother but both of them were older]and I were walking home from school, some tough kids from the neighborhood jumped him and beat him up.”

“What did you do?”
“What do you think I did?  I stood there and cried!”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Honeymoon Story #3 [per Sheryl’s request]

My Dad liked picking on my Mom.  Usually it was alright with her—sometimes, tho, he would go too far.  My Mom has always been quick to cry, so you think my Dad would have been a little more careful but I’m sorry to say that wasn’t always the case. Be that as it may, he could always make her laugh and the infamous story of their Honeymoon became one of the jokes that would make her swat him on the arm, half blushing, half giggling.  For all the stories I tell of my Dad, let it be known that my Mom’s comedic timing is just as epic, even when she was relegated to the role of straight man/butt of joke.  The story is as follows:

“Our room had a Murphy Bed—one of those beds that folds up into the wall.  Well, the clerk takes us up to our room, opens the door and the first thing my wife of 12 hours says is, ‘Where’s the bed?!?’ [sideways glance at my Mom] And that’s when I knew: I’d married a Sex Fiend.” [Mom blushes, begins to beat Dad with couch cushion.]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Honeymoon Story #2

“Our room was like a bridge between two parts of the Inn.  We found out the hard way it was directly over a train track.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Honeymoon Story #1

My Mom and Dad were married in 1957.  The honeymoon they chose to take was a drive into New England.  They had a wonderful time once they got there but their first night was epic bordering on surreal.  Again, remember the context: this is my bedtime story and I am probably 7 or 8:

“After the reception we got in my car and started driving.  It was a dark night, rainy and cold, and we had booked a room at a little roadside inn.  By the time we got there it was after midnight.  We hadn’t really eaten at the reception but the restaurant was closed.  There was a bar downstairs and the desk clerk was the bartender.  Turns out he was the cook, too, and he made us hamburgers.  He only had one arm.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Religion: The Brush Off

My father belonged to a small percentage of the population that can claim to have out-maneuvered a Jehovah’s Witness.  As I mentioned, my Dad had a couple years of seminary training under his belt and he loved, loved, loved talking scripture.  A very nice lady named Wilma (whom my Dad considered a, “good lookin’ gal”) had been visiting my father regularly, dropping off Watchtowers and stating her case.  This is how my Dad described her last visit:  “I finally told her, ‘Wilma, I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.  But drop by whenever you’d like, you’re always welcome.’” 

And that was the end of Wilma.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Religion: Sarcasm

Back in the 1970s there was a Born Again revival that fanned out thru our area.  I used to think it was national but in hindsight I’m not sure.  The Ohio of my youth had several televangelists of note—Ernest Angley, anyone?—and I’m thinking it could be traced to one of them.  One of the ways the revival manifested itself was in a rash of bright yellow bumperstickers which proclaimed, in bold black letters, “I Found It!”  Needless to say the problematic neighbors across the street had “I Found It!” bumperstickers on both of their cars.

Sans fanfare, my Dad had a bumpersticker made for his car, a bright yellow bumper sticker that said, in the exact same bold black font, “But Do You Live It?”


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Religion: Revenge

My folks had an on again off again feud with our neighbors, both the ones next door and the ones across the street—these two households were related, parents on the side of us and daughter and son in law in the house directly across from ours.  When things were calm, I got along well with our neighbor lady on the side of us and the daughter of the family across the street (the sons, tho: freakin’ bullies.  And when they grew up they stayed that way).  The feud was really awful and made my parents’ lives very difficult for a number of years.   One of the things that got under my Dad’s skin was that both sets of neighbors were very vociferous about their Christianity, especially when they were being particularly nasty.  Not many people knew that my Dad had attended a Lutheran seminary in hopes of being a minister.  While he had to leave before completing his studies, he knew the Bible and he knew Christianity.  So he knew religious hypocrisy when he saw it.

My Dad’s folks are buried in a memorial park style cemetery, the type of cemetery where the markers are all flush with the ground.  From your car (and you need a car to get there) you may as well be on a slightly shabby golfcourse.  When you get out and look at the ground, however, you see who’s buried where.  One day, while visiting his folks’ graves, he noticed a new marker had been put in nearby.  He went over to see who his future neighbors would be and—Behold!—the couple from next door!  Who were still very much alive.  I’ve worked in cemeteries—the way you say it is that they had their marker placed “pre-need.”

My Dad absolutely loved that.  He measured out the number of steps from his future grave to theirs (seventeen!).  And he never, ever pointed out to them that they would be Forever And Ever Neighbors.  One of my favorite Dad moments happened when I was sitting with him on our front porch swing and he was in full-on gloat-mode.  He explained the situation to me again, taking it to the necessary conclusion: “And the best part about it, you know what the best part is?  They say when the Good Lord comes on that Final Day, He’ll come from the East—they’re gonna be staring at my ass!”
Have I mentioned yet how much I love that man?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Not Quite a Practical Joke

My Dad had a friend from work named Ron.  Ron was very much a character and there are many stories about him.  I believe he was at least 10 years younger than my Dad, married with 3 daughters (one of whom was my favorite babysitter and probably my first crush).  My memory of him is that he was always suntanned, always smoking and I think he used some sort of pomade in his hair.  My Dad and he got along like gangbusters and my Dad respected him in the way you respect someone who gets away with all the crazy things you don’t have the kahunas to do.

My Mom and Dad and Ron and his wife, Mary, went out to a nice dinner at (I believe) the Haufbrau Haus in Cleveland.  The Haufbrau Haus, like Red Lobster, was considered a red-letter, fancy restaurant.  Being the early 70s, it featured both a cocktail bar and a salad bar: sophisticated!
The wives went to the salad bar first while the husbands chatted at the table.  My Mom brought my Dad a salad and went back to get one for herself.

RON: What was that?
DAD: What was what?
RON: What just happened? Why do you get a salad?
DAD: [paternalistically]I’m the husband, Ron.  My wife understands that.  It’s how it should be.
RON: Really? Huh…
DAD: Women appreciate it when you let them do little things for you. You need to let Mary think you need her.
RON: Alright then. [Yelling across the restaurant]MARY? YOU MAY BRING ME MY SALAD!
MARY: [Yelling across the restaurant] RON? YOU MAY KISS MY ASS!

 That was one of my Dad’s favorite stories.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Practical Jokes: Undertakers

Sometime in his youth, not sure if it was before or after the Navy, my Dad worked for his friend’s family at the family funeral home.  I don’t know much about what my Dad did there but I can tell you that, as a young woman, I was not allowed to wear mauve because “that’s what old ladies are buried in.” Not wearing mauve would not seem like much of an inconvenience but, let’s remember, I came of age in the 1980s. When Mauve Was King.  Maybe that's what started me wearing so much black...

Mr. Dicken, my Dad’s friend, was a nice man.  He also looked exactly the way you would want an undertaker to look.  I can’t imagine any other profession for him—he seemed to be genetically predisposed for the profession.
So keep that image in your head, of a quietly dapper, tastefully bald older gentleman, and imagine such a man:

·         Standing in front of my Dad’s car thru three green lights once he realized he was walking in front of my Dad’s car at a crosswalk.

·         Throwing sugar packets across a Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop, trying to land one in my Dad’s cup of coffee.

·         Having the following conversation in a very busy Doctor’s Office waiting room:
       DAD: Harold! What brings you here?
MR.D: My foot’s bothering me.

DAD: What’s wrong with it?

MR.D: Don’t know.

DAD: You wash it?

MR.D: Do I what?

DAD: Do you wash it?

MR.D: [thoughtfully] Well, no.  I guess I don’t.

DAD: That’s your problem, Harold. 

MR.D: Ya think?

DAD: YES! Go home and wash it and you’ll see I’m right.

MR.D:  By golly, Jack! I think I will! [gets up and walks out of waiting room.]

 Aaaaand: Scene!  Geriatric performance art, people, geriatric performance art.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Practical Jokes: Women and Children

“Bob got transferred to Buffalo and his wife had to take his kids there on the train.  He asked us to see them off at the station so we did and as they were getting on I handed her a Jack-In-The-Box and told her it was for the kids when they started to get cranky, seeing it was such a long trip.  Well, half way there she gave the Jack-In -The-Box to the boys to play with.  I’d taped a Dixie Cup full of confetti to the doll’s head, so when it popped up, WOOOSH!  She said the porters all ignored her for the rest of the trip.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Practical Jokes: Weddings #2

“Bill and I wore our bowling shirts to his rehearsal dinner.  Roberta wasn’t too pleased about that.”

Friday, February 22, 2013

Practical Jokes: Weddings

[I forget which friend was the victim of this so let’s just call him Hank] “It was a Catholic wedding so the bride and groom had to kneel at the altar.  We’d gotten ahold of Hank’s shoes and painted ‘HELP’ on the sole of the left one and ‘ME’ on the sole of the right one.” 
I usually remember the summation part of these stories but this one, I’m drawing a blank.  I’d like to think the joke went over well but I’m guessing the bride was pissed.

Childhood Story #4

“My Dad had a parrot.  Only thing it knew how to say was, ‘Folks goin’ home yet?’”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Childhood Story #3

"I won a beautiful baby contest.  It was one of those snake oil shows that would come thru towns back then.  Second place!”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Childhood Story #2

“There was a baby after me but he didn’t live long.  We were poor and I remember the menfolk taking down a door in the house to saw apart for a casket.  They used Aunt Billie’s wedding gown to line it.”

I’m cheating to include that story.  That was not from the usual Bedtime Story Repository.  As odd as the stories were that I heard in my youth, the older I got the more I learned about my family.   Hard times a lot of the time.
Last year I was confirming some genealogical info for my cousin and stumbled across an entry of the baby’s death certificate.  His name was David.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Childhood Story

“My Dad thought he had real pretty feet.  He would lay back in his chair with his bare feet up on a hassock.  He would have Billy Sunday on the radio and he’d fall asleep but if we tried to change the station he’d wake up.  I remember braiding his hair while he sat there and Roy would roll cigarettes for him.  He was supposed to give us a penny for every dozen we rolled but he never paid up.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dating Story #8

“The first date I went on with your mother, I asked her out to dinner.  I picked her up and drove to White Castle.  I was just joking but she didn’t think it was funny.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dating Story #7

“I had a class ring and the girl I was dating wanted it.  I didn’t want to give it to her.  She was pretty insistent so I pretended to drop it and lose it.  While she was looking for it, I slipped it in my shoe.  Then I had to walk her home with the ring in my shoe, so it’s flat on one side.”

I'm being remiss in not posting a photo of the ring.  I have it and it is, indeed, flat on one side.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dating Story #6

“June was a good lookin’ gal and she had her own car and when she’d see me walking she’d drive up on the sidewalk and say, ‘Get in the car, Jack—I’m gonna wind your watch!’”

Dating Story #5

“The Navy sent me to Brazil and when I left home there were two girls at school I was courting.  One of the fellas I bunked with would write love letters for the other guys to sign and send to their girls.  Well, I paid him a couple of bucks to write to my girls but he put the wrong letters in the wrong envelopes!  I heard that they met each other in the hall at school and one said, “I have something for you.” And the other said, “And I have something for YOU.”  Oooooh, I was never so glad to be overseas as I was when that happened!”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dating Story #4

“Bill set me up on a blind date with this girl and she wasn’t my type but she had her eye on me.  We went out to dinner and she was getting pretty forward and I didn’t know how to damp her down so I decided to order the liver and onions—I figured that would keep her off me.  Well, she goes and orders the liver and onions and says, ‘I’m so glad you ordered first!  I wanted the liver and onions but I thought it might offend you!  Sheeesh!”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dating Story #3

“We drove out to the lake to neck and I left the radio on in the car.  The battery died and we had to get towed back to town.”

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dating Story #2

“Two of my buddies and I took our girls out on a date and since I was so skinny, I got stuck in the back seat with the girls.  The car hit a bump and one of the girls spilled her pocketbook so I was reaching around in the dark helping her pick everything up.  I found her compact and her wallet and then I said, ‘Hey, Inez—when did you start smoking cigars?’ [This was a rare moment in my Dad’s storytelling when he suddenly realized that I was 7. Thus, I would not understand the faux pas he just committed was mistaking a 1950s era tampon for a cigar.  When you are this far into the story, however, you cannot stage a retreat.  Fancy footwork was required:] Well, you, well, she didn’t take too kindly to that and it’s not good to talk about woman things in front of, well, on a date and so that pretty much ended the evening…”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Dating Story #1

Probably the largest genre of stories in my Dad’s repertoire could be described as “Dating Stories.”  My Dad was quite the looker and had many girlfriends.  Being a good Lutheran Boy, he never went too far—that might seem like overshare but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about him.  Dating was dating and “necking” was alright but things never went “too far.”
He and my Mom got married in 1957 after a long engagement.  The difference in their religions caused some trouble; he was Lutheran and she was Catholic.  I would define that as a difference in denominations but I am obviously not attuned to what this issue meant to them.  That being said, all dating stories thus take place between 1941 (when he entered High School) and 1957. 

Now, which one to start with?  Let’s meet up with him after the war:
“When I got back from the Navy I was working as a short order cook at a root beer stand called Dog N’ Suds.  There was a good looking waitress there and she and I ended up going out on a date. When I walked her back to her apartment she said, ‘Gee, Jack—I’d invite you upstairs but my husband’s asleep.’ ZOOOOOOM! I never ran so fast in all my LIFE!”

I’m guessing the “ZOOOOM!” was dramatic license but the rest is probably true.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Title Story

This is a story my father would tell to me when I was very young--still in elementary school, definately.

In the last year of my Dad's life I mentioned this story to him and he claimed it had never happened.  Here it is, as told to me: 

"I joined the Navy when I was 17--I lied and told them I was 18.  I was skinny, oooooh I was skinny!  I weighed about 115 pounds.  The first day on the ship all the new recruits had to go up on deck and present ourselves to the Admiral. We were all dressed in our dress whites.  The Admiral walked the deck giving all the new guys the once-over.  Then he got to me--he looked me up and down and said:


Yes.  Of course.  That's exactly the type of story an 8 year old girl would dream up.