I sat next to my dad listening to stories one after the other, thinking this would never end. You think like that when you’re a kid, or even a young adult, I would be sitting, half listening, blowing bubbles snapping popping pulling the pink stuff off my face and outta my hair while he is talking about driving down mountain roads that had these ramps of sand or dirt for truckers to run into if they couldn’t stop in time. I somehow knew as a kid I didn’t want to know this. No matter, he kept on talking because he had his audience.
My family is from a long line of tinkerers. Is that a good thing, I don’t know. He’d take out his pocketknife and clean the grease out from under his nails if he’d been working on his truck or he’d make gasket covers out of scrap with some kind of paper and his pocketknife came to the rescue once again. That was kind of gross, the nail part, I didn’t think a pocketknife should be used like that, but he was a guy and they do that sort of thing, gross things.
He was recycling before the big to do concerning our enviornment today. Just about all the previous generation knew enough not to waste and to fix something if it broke, not just throw it out and get another, the great depression had a lot to do with that.
He was very methodical in whatever it was, whatever he was working on. I was always fascinated by the way he fixed his plate at dinner time. If we had baked potatoes he would meticulously use his fork to mash down the potatoes in a way where they were all the same height. The butter would be evenly displayed and the salt and pepper was as tidy and even as a gardeners row of corn.
He was always busy talking or working on something but there wasn’t a moment that went by where he didn’t know what was going on. He may not be looking directly at you for the subject in question but he knew just the same. When they lived in Florida, he moved here with the mentality of Ohio and the dress code. No shorts, he never wore them, ever. Maybe the last time was when he lived with his parents. You can teach an old dog new tricks as long as the dog is hotter than blue blazes. His legs were two sticks that had been bleached or so it looked, they were hanging out of a baby blue pair of shorts. They looked even brighter with the white socks and his dark shoes. Why he ever chose that color was beyond me, especially for his first pair in the sunshine. Me thinks my mother had something to do with this. He always wore a shirt with a pocket for his cigarettes, matches, and pencil and said if a shirt didn’t have a pocket it was worthless. Remember that Mr. Designerwear.
I have a picture of him engrossed in some project while sitting on his chair on the porch and while I was listening to him he would end the sentence with “Ya get me?” Huh? What? It was his catchphrase, Ya get me?
One time there was the story of how the man that started the Peterbilt trucks happened and I am ashamed to say I half listened. I couldn’t tell you anymore than I have already. Pathetic. I regret my attitude and now I am paying eternally for not listening.
I heard the story of the time he stood up to Jimmy Hoffa at a Teamsters Union Meeting in Michigan, and lived to tell about it. I sat in disbelief but knew my dad wouldn’t make that up. Maybe I shouldn’t remember that story anyway.
All these blips and blurbs are what we all do everyday. Do we take each other for granted in their little new isms? Of course we do. But if we are all wise we’ll record and file a few of the little quirks that make each of us unique. We will most likely regret not being available for a visit or that we didn’t listen to a story verbatim. We can’t be available all the time. And if someone else is sitting across from you-you can best believe they are doing just the same unless they are a journalism student, have a recorder or in a former life was a stenographer and an A plus shorthand taker, taking in what I just put on paper. But as for myself I will probably remember more than a portion of it.
Blue Shorts and all.