The Virtuous Father died over the weekend just a day after his 86th birthday. He died after not feeling well for a day and the causes were unclear. He just stopped breathing. Considering his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer he was lucky his demise was swift and painless. I had tickets to visit him the day after he died and he was looking forward to the visit that never happened. I think he did looking forward to also seeing one of his grandsons who wanted to come with me. For a teenager to want to spend his last day of summer vacation visiting his grandfather speaks well for both of them.
Unfortunately our scanner is not compatible with this version of Windows and photos will have to wait for another time.
Dad was born in 1918 in Manhattan to immigrant parents and had they typical Our Gang kind of childhood. He was a brawny good-looking blond kid, nicknamed Whitey who had a street enemy known as Blackie. I don't think Blackie did well. He was a blocking back on the football team at James Monroe hospital in the Bronx and left the legendary Townsend Harris prep school (a public preparatory school) so he could play football.
Following High School graduation in 1936 he drifted, ending up in Los Angeles where his grandparents had gone. He lived on the beach with his friends and I think did odd jobs for some celebrities like Jack Benny.
In the service he went into the Army Air Corps-8th Air Force see this previous post. He was reluctant to speak about his experiences as most veterans are and I know very little about his missions fears or feelings. I know he said he didn't hate the Germans until the end of the war when he ferried VIP's from the UK to occupied territory and saw the liberated concentration camps first hand.
He returned home and married my mother who he had met on the beach during a leave from the service. He worked hard as a shoe salesman; my mom was a school secretary and was able to provide well for his children despite a working class background. He was sunshine in my earliest years-big, blond, tong and handsome and proud of me after teaching me such childhood landmarks as throwing a baseball and riding a two-wheeler. He was an extrovert who knew everyone in whatever neighborhood he was. Our relationship was periodically quite stormy usually over some incident, which was trivial, but which lingered longer than it should have.
Later after we were grown he and my mom moved to Florida where he went into the linen business owning a small store and selling in a flea market on the weekends. My mother became a real estate broker in Inverrarry.
He was an old fashioned working class-non-intellectual liberal. In favor of "free" drugs and opposed to the Iraq war. His reasoning on Iraq was that it wasn't worth one American life and that the Arabs would be killing each other like they always do if we left them alone. Not the most nuanced argument but not a very common one either.
Despite a lack of very much formal education he seemed to know everything. My mother could do the Sunday Times crossword and double-crostic in 45 minutes with a pen-and if she didn't know something he invariably did. He was terrible on proper names once sending us into gales of laughter by telling us that Danny Kaye was on in "The Secret Life of Walter Pigeon"
We spoke every day for the last 3 years-sometimes on family sometimes about the old days-rarely about politics-sometimes about baseball or old movies, which he adored. He was proud of his children and grandchildren and despite his flaws-quick anger and the ability to hold a grudge-I misses him very much.