My father’s birthday is in a few days. I’ve been thinking a lot about him because I really miss him. He’s been gone for more than six years. He was a kind, generous, intelligent man. A few years before he passed away, he showed me a binder containing his memoir. I sat in his living room and read the whole thing while he napped in a chair nearby. I was surprised to learn that he was actually a good writer. He had lived most of his life as an electronics technician, and I knew that he wrote technical manuals on his job, but I’d never had the opportunity to read any of his writings.
In his book, the thing that struck me most was the “Forward”, because at the end of it he wrote this:
‘For myself, I wanted a job that allowed me to retire at an early age with enough income to live comfortably for the rest of my life. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about how I was raised, because the way I was raised made me what I am today. And, I hope that anyone reading this autobiography will not think that I am bragging about anything that I did. I just told my story the way I remember it. I also hope that my children and grandchildren will read this and remember me after I am gone.’
As a tribute to him, I wanted to share another excerpt from his book. This section took place when he was a little boy during WWII. His family had just moved from Oklahoma to California:
‘Soon we were working in the fields, mostly picking prunes. The pay was good because the whole family was working. Soon we were able to buy a small car for transportation. The car was a ’31 Model A coupe. It had a “Rumble Seat” in the trunk. Cars to buy were scarce at this time because of the war. My dad got a good job at the shipyard at Mare Island, California. He started as a machinist and his pay was better than any job he had ever had.
The closest rental house that we could get to his job was about 70 miles away. No one wanted to rent a house to a family with a bunch of kids, so we had to take whatever we could find. The house was a former night club called “The Cave”. The entire front of the house was wire with plaster that was shaped and looked like the entrance to a cave. There was only one big dance hall room, a kitchen and two bathrooms. The ceiling was also plaster coated like a rock ceiling in a cave and it had huge icicles hanging down. We got our mail with the address: “The Cave”, highway 101, Santa Rosa, California. We partitioned off the large dance hall room into several smaller rooms, and soon all of the families that we came to California with were living with us for a while.
All of us kids attended a one-room school house in the country. All grades were separated, but in the same big room. The school was about one-half mile from where we lived in the ‘Cave’. I got my first experience of finger-painting at this small school. Each student was given a large sheet of paper and the colors to create anything they wanted to on paper. All of the kids going to this school were of different nationalities. Some were Swedish, some were Italians, and some were Greek. All of them could speak English and we got along great.
My dad worked part-time for an Italian chicken farmer. He raised chickens in long chicken houses, as did many other farmers in the area. Dad had to keep these chicken houses clean by shoveling the manure off the floors and hauling it away. The old farmer couldn’t drive, so Dad often drove him into town to by supplies for the chicken farm.’