Saturday, April 04, 2015
D is for DADDY and Me
If ever there were two people who had a “mutual admiration society,” it was my daddy and me. Neither of us could do wrong in the other’s eyes, though we both had lots of faults. I guess we were aware of them; we just didn’t concentrate on them.
Let me tell you about some memories that come to mind without even having to think:
· The first recollection that I have of Daddy was in Mobile, AL, where we moved from Baton Rouge, LA, when I was two or three. My mother instructed me not to go into the street, but I went anyway. She spanked me and promised another spanking from Daddy when he got home. Of course, he had to do what Mother had promised, and when I awakened in the night with a high fever, he swore that he made me sick by spanking me and also swore that he’d never spank me again. And he didn’t. Of course, he didn’t make me sick, but nothing Mother said could convince him that he wasn’t guilty. You wouldn’t believe it if you could see me today, but I was a sickly child, and it was probably just time for me to get sick again.
· Another memory is associated with our neighbor in New Orleans, Mrs. Dean. Oh, my, how that lady could tinkle the ivories! She played by ear, and was all over my piano just about every day. That’s not my Daddy memory, though. I digress. Daddy was a supervisor of Auto-Lec Stores all over the Gulf Coast. Almost every Friday afternoon, when he came home from traveling, Mrs. Dean would greet him, thinking she was being friendly: “Hey! What are you doing here?” That would make my dad so angry! I don’t know that he was ever short with her, but he surely did unload on Mother and me when he closed our kitchen door!
· I must admit that Daddy loved going to bars, and back in the ‘40s, children were allowed in these establishments. Daddy would give me nickels to play the slot machines while he visited with his friends. Today, he’d be put in jail for doing that, wouldn’t he? We had a grand time. I remember going to a restaurant called St. Clair’s on Carrollton Avenue, not far from our apartment in New Orleans several times. On this particular evening, my mother was in the hospital after having a hysterectomy, and since my dad knew nothing about the kitchen, we ate out every night before he went to the hospital to visit with her. I ordered spaghetti and sprinkled Parmesan cheese all over it, thinking I’d like it. It was disgusting! Did my daddy fuss at me? Not on your life. He let me order something else, and I’m sure I ate every bite of it.
· Daddy had a beautiful Irish tenor voice and sang all the time while the two of us were going somewhere in the car. We always listened to the radio, and he’d break out in song almost every time a song came on. I’d sing along with him, and we’d be so happy just entertaining ourselves. He thought I had a lovely voice. I knew better, but I humored him by joining in!
· On Sunday afternoons, after Mother and I got home from church, we’d eat dinner, take a little nap, then get into the car to go for a ride. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, almost every family did this. We’d ride through new housing developments oohing and aahing over the modern new houses. We always lived in apartment houses until I was in high school. I guess my parents didn’t have enough money to purchase a house, but I didn’t care. Growing up in the ‘hood was wonderful! Our Sunday afternoon rides always ended with ice cream, and for a fat child, that was wonderful. The boys at school made fun of me because I was fat, but Daddy never did. He loved me no matter how I looked!
· We moved to Pensacola, FL, when I was thirteen, the summer after I finished seventh grade. My mother and daddy went into business for themselves (still staying with Auto-Lec). The summer between my junior and senior years in high school, I worked in their store. Mother managed a motel, and I worked with Daddy. He said that my job was watching the TVs at the front of the store so that no one would steal them. He wasn’t a very strict boss, but he paid me the astronomical amount of $25.00 a week for working from 8:00 – 6:00 every day except Wednesday, when all the stores in our little community closed at 1:00. I loved making that money because I could tithe. It made me so happy to put $2.50 in my envelope every week.
· Daddy taught me to drive. My mother never would have had the patience, but he did. Just before I turned sixteen and could get my license, we’d go behind our store, in a dirt alley, and he’d meticulously teach me what to do behind the wheel. Eventually, we went on the streets of Brownsville, where our store was located. Back then, we didn’t have Driver’s Education at school, so that’s why he taught me.
I think you can tell that I was a Daddy’s Girl. He thought I was the smartest, prettiest, most talented child in the world. I knew better, but I let him think those things anyway. If I had believed even half of what he thought of me, my head would be too big to get through the door! Daddy died more than forty years ago, and I still miss him. It does a girl’s heart good to know that someone loves her the way my daddy loved me.