Who knew Dad was a poet. This would have been 1994 just a year after the cruise that was the beginning of his decline.
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a very long time — I even searched my archives because I was sure I’d written about my Little Bible before. It is so tiny, it should have been lost years ago, but I have always known pretty much where it is.
When I was young, not long after I learned to read, I think, I was given a tiny book that contained excerpts from the Bible. In fact, the cover page makes the claim that “The Little Bible Contains Selections from Every Book in the Bible as found in the King James Version.”
We were not a regular church-going family, but I definitely had questions about God and religion and I must have felt the need to learn “The Lord’s Prayer” for some reason. So, I turned to page 75 in my Little Bible and memorized “Mathew 6:9-13.”
I don’t know how long it took me to memorize it, but I do remember going into the living room and reciting it for my father who, if I remember correctly, was surprised enough to ask where I learned it. When I showed him the Little Bible he didn’t believe me at first.
I was very proud of myself for learning “The Lord’s Prayer” by myself and, for years, proudly recited it whenever we happened to go to church.
I wonder if I’d not memorized it then, would I ever have memorized it? I don’t know any of the other passages that are routinely recited at most churches, for instance, the Apostles’ Creed — I don’t know that by heart and I think it is shorter than the Lord’s Prayer.
My dad was a funny guy and had witty stories and jokes ready for any occasion. I don’t really remember too many of the stories and only remember one of his jokes. Maybe two.
The joke I definitely remember made no sense to me when I was a kid. When I grew up I figured it was funny to someone who was in the “know” about the “golden days of radio” because it sure made my dad laugh. It was not until this afternoon that I realized that my dad was not telling me a joke as much as pranking me.
“Momma Bear and Poppa Bear were taking a bath.
Momma Bear said, “Poppa Bear, pass me the soap, dear.”
Poppa Bear said, “No soap, radio.”
After telling the joke my dad would laugh and laugh and laugh. I’d say I didn’t get it. He’d say, “No soap, radio! No soap radio!” I’d tell him I still didn’t get it. I’d ask what it meant, but he could never seem to explain it to me and said, “never mind” when I bugged him about it.
I told other people the joke and no one else understood it either. How could my father laugh so heartily at a joke that no one understood?
When I grew up I’d think back to the joke and try to understand it. I finally came to the conclusion that it must have had something to do with the olden days and radio programs. That maybe the people that grew up listening to soap operas on the radio understood the joke and that since I hadn’t I’d never hope to understand the joke.
This afternoon I brought the joke up with Dean. He remembered me telling him about it years ago. I told him my theory and he suggested that I consult Professor Internet. I did and what I found out kind of made me sad.
It turns out that the “No soap radio” joke was a prank that may have started in the 1950s. A group of friends would be in on the joke, one person would tell it (or a variation of it) and all the friends would laugh. If the person being pranked laughed, the others would laugh and ask what was funny.
So when my father told it and I didn’t laugh but asked what it meant, how did that make him feel? Was he disappointed that I didn’t do what was expected? Would I have laughed if other people were also laughing? Should I be upset that he was trying to prank me? Does it really matter? Should I stop obsessing on this?
This was written November 1966. Probably 4th grade.
I love my parents very much. I need them very much because if I did not have them I cold not tell them my troubles.
My dad is a mechanic. He is the only speedometer man in Elgin and my mom is a housewife. They both love me and I love me and I love them.
For my birthday once I got to go and see a movie called “Jack the Giant Killer” and then I got a kitten for my birthday. And I got a radio and alarm clock. But before my brother was born I got to do more things than now. I love my mom and dad. They spank me sometimes but I love them very much. They kiss me every day when I go to bed or when I get up in the morning or when I go somewhere and when I eat a good meal.
No comment on this one…
Found this among the photographs/letters/recipes/magazine clippings at Mom’s house. I wish I knew where the Shangri-La Bar was located. The photo was inside a two-fold handmade card with the Shangri-La Bar drawing taped to the front. On the inside, facing the photo are the addresses of the other sailors.This is not politically correct and quite offensive, but this was probably 1949, so let’s give it a pass. Anyway, that woman was probably about to turn around and give the wolves a piece of her mind.
I love the look on the bartender’s face. These days we’d call it photobombing.
At some time in my distant past I inherited a light brown corduroy jacket from my dad. I remember him wearing it, but don’t know why I ended up with it. I may have been a teenager. I may have worn it when I first got it, but I never threw it away.
A few years ago I found the jacket in a box of stuff in our attic kneewall. I pulled it out to see if Clare wanted it. She didn’t. It’s been sitting around for a number of years, sometimes in the closet, sometimes in a box, occasionally on the coat rack in my bedroom.
A few months ago I debated throwing it away, so I tried it on. It felt like a hug from my dad. No way was I getting rid of that. It is very worn, has rust stains and is fraying at one wrist. But it is soft and warm. These days it hangs on the back of my work chair and when I get chilly in my office attic I sometimes put the jacket on. For the first few seconds I can feel my father’s presence.
When my dad was about 50 he made a considerable change of employment. He struck out on his own and started “Pat’s Appliance Service.” I was in college, I think, and more than a little worried about his decision. That didn’t stop me from making him a card out of construction paper and markers. (did I mention I was in COLLEGE?)
He started out, after the Navy, first as an Electrolux salesman, then he worked as a speedometer repairman with a company in Elgin called K & D. After that he worked at an appliance repair place called Reber’s Appliance. When they closed down he worked for an Appliance store in downtown Elgin where he was sent to school to learn how to fix Frigidaire refrigerators. Finally he shifted gears a bit and worked at Burren’s Transfer in Elgin fixing the refrigeration units on trailer tractors. This last job was pretty bad — he worked for a man called Walter Schock who was an angry foul-mouthed man. Dad would come home from work and say things I’d never heard him say. The “f-word” flew out of his mouth often and easily. I think he only worked there a year — enough time for us to take advantage of the Teamster’ insurance plan.
Here’s the card I made him to mark this momentous event.
My mom saved everything. I look like a hoarder now because my office is wall-to-wall boxes full of stuff she saved. Stuff that I need to toss. Here’s a card I sent my dad about 6 weeks before he became a grandfather.
The card’s printed text was “With All My Love On Father’s Day”. I crossed out the “On” and wrote, “more than a week after”.
This is the last Father’s Day in which you will be just a dad. Next year you will be a grandfather. (Your grandchild just kicked me, as if to say, “I consider him a grandfather already!”).
We got our camcorder today — so watch your mail for home movies of Dean and his fat wife!
School is over — Yay! We are going up to see Neal and Marie on Friday. Dean’s sister, Diane, and her family are visiting us next month.
See you in about 8 weeks!
Love Dona (Dean sends his love too!)
Okay, this is the real first letter, I think. Or it may be the fourth or fifth. See, he didn’t always remember to put the month on the letter. This one says Mon — 29 — 48. According to the Time and Date website the 29th of the month fell on a Monday twice in 1948 — May and November. Judging from the length and detail of this letter, however, I am going to guess it was written in May.
“Mon — 29 — 48
Great Lakes, Ill.
Well I was going to write this letter yesterday but I will try and write it now. Boy, yesterday was a busy Sun. We got up at 5:30, went to early chow and then went to church. They had 3 different churches so I went to our church. I didn’t like the minister as well as at the church at home though, he was a civilian too. After church we came back and mopped the whole barracks floor, shower room , head (toilet), washroom, drying room and everything. When we got the barracks cleaned up it was time for noon chow. Afternoon we went to the recreation room. Boy is it nice up there. They have 5 pool tables, a big room full of nice overstuffed furniture, a nice big television set and a lot of magazines. You can check out most any game you want and it’s really swell up there. Up in the rec room they also have a long line of papers with different states marked on the tip so you can put your name, Co. no, and hometown. I haven’t found anybody from Elgin in Camp Moffet yet, but I think that there is a guy here somewhere because he said that he was coming here…….
Well I am back again. As I was writing the chief came in and he hollered “Fall out for drill” so we went out and drilled for about an hour before chow. We just got down cleaning up the barracks so maybe I can finish this.
After we eft the rec hall yesterday my buddy and I came back and started to clean up our clothes but before we got done we had to fall out for chow. We don’t get as good chow here as we did over at Barry but I’m not complaining.because we get a lot to eat anyway.
When we got out of chow we went to the P.X. to get some cigarettes and went to the canteen to get some ice cream. When we left the canteen we went back to the barracks, finished washing our clothes and read the funnies which I bought that morning but didn’t’ have time to read yet. I was pretty tired last night so I didn’t’ try to write.
Well, just got back from night chow so I’ll finish quick like a rabbit. I can’t think of much more to write. I went down to the P.X. after night chow and got some pictures. Nobody has a camera here in camp as we all had to send stuff like that back with our clothes. The pictures will give you some kind of idea what this place looks like.
Well, guess I’ll have to close pretty soon now as I have to hit the sack pretty soon. How’s Morris and Darlene? I sure would like to see them again. Can you send me some of the best pictures of them? Not too many just 2. How are all of the rest of the kids? Wild as ever, I suppose. Corrine doesn’t know what to do with herself right now — but pretty soon school starts. I hope Verne is getting better. Tell everybody hello.