Holiday stirs fond memories of dad

Father’s Day will be this Sunday. Here are some of my earliest memories of my dad. Maybe this little note will stir up some fond early memories you may have of your dad.

Who was this man called Dad? He wasn’t a bit like Mom. Mom was there all the time. It was 1938, and I was 3 years old. I would be sitting on my knees at the breakfast table on York Avenue eating my oatmeal when Dad would come charging down the stairs. He was usually dressed in a dark blue suit and was always in a hurry in the morning. Pulling his watch from his vest pocket, he would check the time. He would quickly sit down and pour his coffee from its cup onto a saucer and blow on it. Drinking it down in a couple of gulps, he would stand, grab his keys and open the back door.

“Goodbye, George.”

“Where are you going, Dad?”

“Pittsburgh!” was his reply.

I would listen to his ’34 Ford coupe start up and rumble out of our drive with the gravel crunching under the tires. Dad was gone.

Mom told me that he had gone to work to make money. Oh, I knew all about Dad’s making money, because one time I had seen him standing in front of a shiny silver machine. He would pull on a long handle, and once in a while money would come crashing out of an opening in the bottom. Making money seemed pretty easy.

Playmate Mary Joyce and I would play with my Lincoln logs all morning in the corner of the dining room. After Mary Joyce’s mom would call for her to come home for lunch, Dad would be home for his lunch. I would proudly show him what I had made with my Lincoln logs. He would make some appreciative comment and head for the back door.

“Goodbye, George.”

“Where are you going, Dad?”

“Pittsburgh!”

Oh, that place again. And why did he keep calling me George? Pittsburgh made him smell like buses. Along with the Lucky Strike cigarettes he smoked, his was the smell that was strictly Dad.

I would rejoin Mary Joyce for the afternoon in her back yard to play on her swings or in her sandbox. As the day wore on, her mom would come out into the back yard with a paring knife and a kettle to pick dandelion greens for dinner. This was my signal to go home for my dinner.

Dad soon joined Mom, Grandma, my sister and me for an evening meal of rivulet soup made by Grandma. I guess Dad was done making money for the day.

After dinner, he would sit in his easy chair and try to read the Warren Tribune Chronicle with me on his lap. I would always ask him to read the funnies. Li’l Abner was my favorite.

After a while, we all had to be utterly silent, as he tuned the radio to WTAM to listen to news commentator Little Thomas. I later found out that Little Thomas was actually Lowell Thomas. I still imagined him to be a tiny little man.

My name was Donnie back then. (I prefer Don, now.) But, oddly enough, Dad kept calling me George. In later years, I found out that Dad’s best buddy when he was growing up was named George. I think when I was born, he wanted to have me named George, but lost the naming battle with Mom.

Although Dad was a really great guy, it would take me a few years to figure out that he was also a big kidder — by George!

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com

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