My Dad is from The South….West Virginia. There they have towns named…War, Caretta, Coalwood, Bartley and yes even Honaker, Virginia…the birthplace of my grandfather or pawpaw as we called him. These towns when I drive through give you a sense that life was hard growing up in 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Most of the adults here worked in the coal mining industry and with little hope of getting out the life that my dad would had led too. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against coal minors….it just seems like a rough way to earn a living.
My mother grew up in the same area and her father was a coal miner…these towns were set up around a mine. The mine owned everything in town…there was a company store, you had a home that was owned by the mine, your phone rang into the mine switchboard. If you needed work done at your home, the company carpenter performed the work…
My Dad came to Ohio when Whirlpool was hiring in the mid-sixties. I was the only person in my immediate family not born in The South….good old Fremont, Ohio. My dad worked at Whirlpool until the day he retired. He’s a great guy that through out my childhood shared his wisdom of cars, life, baseball (softball) and fun times. My Dad and I always had a close relationship even though he and my mom were divorced when I was very young…I don’t really remember them being together…I have vague memories of a Christmas but that’s it. My Dad is someone who always would lend a hand and when he couldn’t he’d give you that advise to help. Every time I visit my Dad, he always had something to give you…something to help…over the years I think my dad has given me a dozens flashlights, tools, lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc…anything that he thought he could do without and you couldn’t. He was there to help me get my 2nd car…I would say 1st but my mom insisted I get a different one. When that car failed, I got my 1970 Chevelle. I would eventually wreck this car, but along the way my Dad taught me how to work on it. How to change the oil, change a tire..how to make it faster.
My Dad loved his beer when I was going up (probably why I love beer so much). Everything we did, he always had a beer near by. I never really seen my dad drunk, but I’m sure there were times….something my girls probably cannot claim. He always seemed so invincible…there was a time when I was young and I saw my dad get into a fight, and my uncle had to retrain him…probably from killing the other guy. My Uncle Hubert was one of the best athletes around and as strong a man I thought there could be and it was all he could do to hold my Dad back. I’m sure this is where I get my invincibility from. My Dad had a soft side too, he didn’t show it much…a side effect from growing up in the coal towns of the Virginia’s. He wasn’t mean or anything, just strong and precise you did what you were told…he was the kind of Dad that you did something the 1st time he told you….you didn’t want to see what would happen if he had to tell you twice….no one tempted that fate.
My Dad took us on a lot of vacations when I was a kid. We would go to Virginia Beach…he taught me to body surf… probably why I love the Ocean so much. He would take us to West Virginia to see my Grama and Pawpaw… to Big Walker lookout, lovers leap, all the spots in the Virginia’s that had a name. If there was anything we wanted, my Dad would buy. Anything we wanted to do he would do it…anything we wanted to learn he would teach. My Dad was just that…a teacher of life. If my Dad needed something built…he’d build it. If he needed plumbed…he’d plumb it…some electric work…he’d electric it…(I know that’s not a word…i just fit). He could do all these things and he taught me as well. He taught me mechanics, plumbing, electrical…he taught me to mow the lawn, how to play baseball (i was no good at it though). He taught me how to play cards how to throw a Frisbee how to fish. My Dad taught me life.
My Dad is growing older these days and I don’t seem to have the time to spend with him as much as he did with me when I was younger. It’s strange that way, I’m busy with my own family, friends and just the hustle of everyday life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. I often wonder how he did all those things with us…how he was full of life how he taught me life…how he taught me mine. I love you Dad!