Stories of Dad

I was two years old in this picture that was taken in the backyard at my grandparent’s house in 1954. Evidently I thought I was a cowboy. Actually, that was a thought I had for a long time. Years, in fact. I should have kept that hat on at all times according to a story told to me by my Dad when I started having my own little ones.

According to Dad, a man who I adored, when I was little like that cute picture up above, I played out in our tiny yard a lot. There was an old slapper of a screen door in the rooster wallpapered kitchen that opened into the fresh air and tiny green patch of backyard, complete with a clothesline. A wheel pulley nailed to the post on the back porch held ropey clothesline that traveled out to the telephone pole at the back corner of the  yard to another wheel pulley. All the ladies in the attached yards had the same set-up with the exception of the “smart family” two houses down. Mrs. English had a umbrella-type clothesline that looked like my other grandmother’s patio umbrella. It was very fancy-schmancy. The clothes pole stuck into a hole in a concrete pad. I got dizzy trying to follow all the different pieces of rope that seemed to zig and zag on that umbrella looking contraption.

But, the story I’m telling is about the ladies pinning their clothes to those lines. Every piece of clothing and anything cotten went on those ropes that ran to the back yards from porches and high-up windows.

The problem was the neighborhood crow, Jake. He’d come along and pull the pins off the lines and all the clothes would drop into the yards. The neighbor ladies and my Mom didn’t like Jake. Neither did I. But, my Dad loved him.

Jake provided Dad entertainment. He’d sit in the kitchen on a padded chair he’d swing around from the kitchen table, pour himself a Shlitz and watch the show in the yard. Fruit-Of-The-Looms, MaidenForms, girdles, diapers, big white underpants; they all eventually ended up in the grass. When Jake was done with the clothes it was Dad’s turn to direct the entertainment.

“Here Susie. Here’s a cookie, now go out in the yard and play.”

I’m thinking this was when my cowboy hat must have been hung on my spurs in the bedroom.

I’d take the cookie, swing the slapper open and go out into the yard to play and enjoy my cookie. That’s when Jake would show up, peck me on the head until I dropped my cookie and then the SOB would steal it and fly away.

Daddy would sit in the kitchen and laugh his ass off.

I’m sure I didn’t cry or have blood dripping down my cute little face or my Dad wouldn’t have repeated the scene as often as he said he did.

I entertained Dad and he in turn entertained me. Constantly. Wiggling his ears or his fake tooth. Doing it in church was especially entertaining. Of course that only happened at Christmas and Easter. We fed off each other as I grew and enjoyed the laughs and jokes we pulled on each other.

I lost him to cancer in 1988, two days after his 62nd birthday day and a few days after Father’s Day. June 25, 1988 is the day the laughter died.  I have resurrected it over the years. It was hard to laugh for a long time, but his gift to me was the gift of making people laugh and laughing with them.

I promise never to send any of you into the yard with a cookie, though. But, if I do–wear a hat.

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