MY FATHER (1902-1972)
My father died 44 years ago yesterday when I was 20 years old. Here are some things about him.
- •He graduated high school in 1920 at a time when few people finished school
- •He learned to speak German in school and remained fluent his whole life
- •He could not read music and never had lessons but played piano, trumpet, and banjo professionally for many yearsPlayed on the radio, played in Florida in the winter and the Poconos in the summer.
- •He excelled at billiards and won multiple tournaments.He played under an assumed name because his mother didn't approve. He saved newspaper clippings of his tournaments and my brothers and I got a big kick out of reading them because he was using aliases
- •He was married before he met my mother but his first wife died. They had no kids. We learned early on he didn't want to talk about her.
- •When he was in his early 30s he took a desk job at the United States Testing Company in Hoboken, NJ and did music jobs on the side. His first wife was still living.
- •We have photo albums from his first marriage and he was so happy.They travelled, went out to nightclubs and parties, and they played tennis and golf. They went swimming down the shore and had picnics at the lakes. They had lots of friends and he got along great with his in-laws.
- •He never seemed happy or social with us, his second family. He hired my mother as his secretary several years after his first wife died. She had to quit once they became engaged and soon after they got married he left the job, too. He bought a store and when my mother had two baby boys 11 months apart he sold it and bought a milk route.The milk route was 7 days a week and he planned to expand it and hire an assistant. But he never could make enough money to do that. In my 20 years of life before he died of a massive heart attack he was out of work only 2 weeks to recover from hernia surgery. He was still working 7 days a week and was out working when he died. He was 70 years old.
- •My father could do a lot of math in his head and both my older brothers inherited his math skills. They both majored in math in college. I am good at math but they are great. My daughter got the math gene and she also majored in math.
- •My brothers also inherited his billiards skills but none of us have any musical aptitude or talent.
- •He was great with fixing things. He did his own maintenance on our cars and his milk truck. It was long before digital and he also fixed our radios and televisions. He set up speakers in the kitchen so we listen to the TV during dinner. My mother was never very happy about that.
- •My mother and us three kids went to church every Sunday and were very involved in the church but my father never went. He didn't even come on Christmas or Easter. I don't remember him at our confirmations either. Yet he played piano at the Sunday School Christmas party every year and came to the Sunday School picnics.He never discussed why or what his beliefs were.
- •He went to every little league game my brothers played and he loved baseball. My mother loved baseball, too.
- •People often put their trash out at night. My father was out delivering milk from about 2:00am until 8 or 9. He brought home lots of stuff from the trash. This is how we got our bicycles, roller skates, various balls, and other useful stuff.He especially found mops and brooms. He would cut off the handle for us to play stick ball in the schoolyard or streets.
- •I loved my father so much. He was the only person in my family who cared about me. It was only recently that I realized that we only got a shell of the man my father once was. He had little left to give to us emotionally after losing his first wife. We were a very dysfunctional family and this just made it worse. Yet I love him and still miss him.