Although my dad died in 1985 at the age of 76 I think of him often and the richness he brought into my life. I have vivid memories of the smell of his after-shave lotion as I sat on his lap reading the Sunday funnies. I remember the Teddy bears he brought for me and my sister when we met him at the train station on a furlough from his duties as an MP during WWII. I was proud during my early years that dad was chief of police in our small town and that he upheld the law including a fake arrest of my older sister when an irate man stormed into his office demanding she and her friends be arrested for throwing tomatoes at his car. He also protected us by arresting a pervert exposing himself in my grandfather's movie theater.
Dad looked handsome in his police uniform and later in his navy uniform and his white sailor cap when he traded in his gun for a black billy club. During my high school years in the late '50s he would again pack a gun as United States Marshall for Utah. During his eight years as Marshall our family vacations were taken with convicted felons headed for federal prisons in places like Terminal Island, Washington and ALderson West Virginia. If the crime was for tax evasion it was a relaxed and pleasant trip as the prisoners would go to dinner with us and stay in our motel. Dad would, of course, take their shoes and pants so they couldn't run. If it was a violent crime such as murder, armed robbery or drug trafficking they would wear handcuffs. The most violent would also wear a chain around their waist attached to their handcuffs and shackles on their ankles. You can only imagine the looks we got at gas stations and luncheonettes. We always took a guard along riding in the back seat with the prisoner. Dad said it was dangerous to have prisoners alone in the back seat as two deputies had been shot when leaving their prisoner in the back seat alone. The guard could be a friend if it was a male or my mom would take the job if the prisoner was female. We never had problems getting people to go on our road trips as it was an all expense paid trip plus $30 a day for guard duty. If the offense was of a more violent crime or the prisoner was at risk for running, dad would put them in the city jail at night and we would pick them up after breakfast. Dad had a list of jails approved by the Federal government. It hurt him to put black felons in Southern jails because of how they were treated. When we picked them up in the morning they would talk about not being given a blanket or spoon. Dad would shake his head and tell them how sorry he was.
I learned a lot from my dad -- compassion, right from wrong, respect for the law and courage. He also taught me how to swim, play cards and golf. He had real common sense wisdom including holding your cards close to the vest, keeping your eye on the ball and enduring to the end, which he did as a special gift to me toward the end of his life. Two years before my dad died his grandson Scott, my 17-year-old son, was killed in an automobile accident. At the time my dad was very ill and close to his own death. I pleaded with him, "Dad, I have had the death of my son; you can't die for two years I can't stand another loss". My son died in April 1983 and my dad died two years later after a series of strokes. Mom and I were at his bedside.
So, this Father's Day I give thanks for all the dads both living and dead who have made us who we are today.
Happy Father's Day Dad and thanks for the memories!