Saturday, October 1, 2016


My eldest sent me a link the other day.

"I just found out about this.  Highlights include, "we cook approximately 50 tons of sweetcorn with an antique steam engine and distribute the corn FREE"

I wish we could have taken Papa to it.  Maybe this can be the kernel for a "papa loved corn" post on the blog?"

I don't really have any stories about Dad and corn but I can tell you some interesting things about it.

Dad loved corn, but he was allergic to it.  The fresher it was the worse it was.  He was pretty much okay with frozen, canned bothered him a bit, but fresh corn on the cob made him sneeze kernels out his nose the rest of the day.  I remember him opening his white handkerchief (which he always carried) and showing me the yellow nugget nestled in the mucus.

He liked to put corn in his cooking.  On the rare occasion when Mom was out for the evening and Dad was home to make dinner he would make cream chipped beef (which I loved) or omelettes.  He would put corn in the omelettes.

When we went to the Great Smokey Mountains to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail with the troop they found a farm-stand selling corn on the cob by the bushel right next to the cornfield where they were grown.  We bought a bushel after we got off the trail and borrowed what was probably a 30 gallon pot to cook all of it.

I'll tell you the corn kernels were flying that day!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  In honor I'm going to tell a short story I remember from being a young buccaneer.

Do NOT try this at home, ARRRR!
One evening at dinner for some reason I put my knife in my teeth.  We were having steak and potatoes, one of Dad's favorites.

When I put the knife in my teeth Dad said, "Don't do that, you'll cut your tongue."

I took it out but I protested, "But pirates always carried their knives in their teeth."

Dad said, "Why do you think they talked so funny?"

I can say categorically that Dad was not always ahead of his time, but, there you have it, Talk Like a Pirate explained about twenty years before it became a thing.  

Have some rum (maybe some Stoh rum, ah but that's a different story for a different day) and enjoy the holiday ya scurvy dogs!!!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trick of the Teeth

I went to the dentist today for only the second time since I got my braces off in high school and it reminded me of this story.

This is going to sound like my story, but stick with me and I'll explain why it's really Dad's story.

When I was about thirteen I got braces.  Before they could put them on they needed to pull eight baby teeth.  These teeth were never going to come out on there own.  They had full roots and were not deteriorating like normal baby teeth do.  They had to put me under and perform oral surgery to remove them.
Dad, Mom and Brace-face

They used a general anesthesia and put me to sleep.  When I was coming out from under the anesthesia Dad was waiting in the room there with me.

"How'ya feeling, son?"

I suppose I mumbled something like David After the Dentist.

"You know," he said, "they x-rayed your skull.  They needed to find out how much your skull has knit together to see how much growing you are still going to do."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes.  They said you were [unknown to me now] % grown.  By that calculation you will grow to be six foot eight."

"Six eight?  Wow."

"Well, that's just a potential.  You might get to be that tall if you don't do things that would stunt your growth."

"Stunt my growth; like what?"

"You know, like drinking and smoking.  If you want to grow to your full potential no drinking or smoking for you."

I was only thirteen, but I took it to heart.  I did not have any alcohol until I turned twenty one, and I didn't really ever smoke.

Did you spot the Dad part of that story?  I figure they never told Dad any such thing.  He knew me and knew just the challenge I would take up (nearly any) and stick to doggedly.  It was a golden opportunity and Dad never let those pass him by.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Showers in the Rain

I have a very short one today.  It is inspired by a conversation I had with my daughters about showering in rainwater.  

I remember a time in my youth when it was raining cats and dogs.  The downspout off the front porch broke, or the gutter just overflowed from the volume of water.  We were all quite frightened by the rain and lightning.  It was a very intimidating summer storm in the middle of the afternoon.

I think the power of the storm and our fear of it was partially why Dad did what he did.  He said rainwater was the best for washing your hair.  He ran into the house and came back with is swim trunks on and a bottle of shampoo.  He stuck his head under the waterfall that was coming past the front porch and happily washed his hair.

It was a little nothing, but very Dad and it stuck with me for some reason.

Does anyone else remember this?  Can they elaborate on it?

It also reminds me of the story about the impromptu shower he and his USMC unit took when they were finally relieved on that island off Taiwan.  
1976 Georgia crew heading home

It also reminds me of the time we were driving back from Dad attending Signal Officer Basic Course in Fort Gordon.  It was late spring  1976 and the snow run-off was still pouring off the mountains.  In Tennessee we stopped along the side of the road and Dad filled up a large thermos of ice cold water.  It was some of the best I ever tasted.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Papa the Priest

NOT Dad.
My mom recently sent me an email that got me to thinking about religion and the military, which got me to thinking about Papa.  Few people know that my dad was a priest once, for a few hours.  That's probably because he wasn't, he just pretended to be.

I think this story starts with Papa the failed altar boy.  Papa grew up Roman Catholic.  Back when he was a boy the mass was always in Latin.  Papa tried out to be an altar boy (they were only boys back then too) but he just couldn't get the hang of the Latin.

Move forward maybe twenty years.  Papa was a police officer and they had a particularly troublesome person in custody.  He was locked up, but he wouldn't stop causing trouble and he kept yelling that he wanted to talk to a priest.

This was the middle of the night in a terrible neighborhood and there were no priests available.

My dad, the ever resourceful said he would talk to the man.  He turned up his collar and buttoned it so that you couldn't see it was an ordinary shirt under his jacket.  I think he arranged it so that only a small square of the white collar was showing.  Then he went to the man and asked him what his troubles were.

The man said he wanted to confess his sins.  My father did his best to imitate what a priest would do when hearing confession (he had been to confession plenty of times himself at St. Edward's grade school).  The man made his confession (that's what they called the sacrament of penance back then) and Dad told him to say ten Our Father's and ten Hail Mary's.  The man thanked him and settled down.

A few days later, feeling supremely guilty Dad went to the CPD chaplain and told him what he had done.  The priest was a very worldly and understanding man.  He asked if Dad had shared what he had heard with anyone.  Dad said, "no."  The priest told him that God hears confession through the priest.  As long as the man was talking through Dad to God then the confession is legitimate and Dad was okay for doing it.

Then he told Dad to say ten Our Father's and ten Hail Mary's and never do it again.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Happy F@#king Birthday, Dad!

I'm imagining it's an ice cream cake
Today would have been my Dad's 72nd birthday.

I've told you about Dad's day of birth, and how he celebrated at Owasippe.  Now I'm going to tell you about one of the most memorable of Dad's birthdays: the first time I ever heard him drop an F-Bomb.

I told you about our 1981 Appalachian Trail trip.  When it was all over we were driving home for two days.  We had Mr. Zaremba's van, mostly loaded with gear; and Dad's van, the "Rally STX" or "The STX" for short (pronounced either "stix" or S-T-X).

On the morning of the first day, after driving a few hours we stopped for breakfast.  It was Dad's 39th birthday and Mr. Z took him in a dinner for a nice breakfast while the youth stayed out in the van and ate leftover trail breakfast.

Trail breakfast is mostly breakfast bars so it went pretty quick.  While we were waiting for the adults to finish, my brother Shawn took a bungee cord and hooked on end to the bottom of the open sliding door and the other end on the top rain gutter.  Then he started strumming it like a standing bass.

Bum bum bum bum bum bum SNAP!

The top metal hook slipped off the roof gutter and smacked him right in the eye.  He collapsed on the ground clutching at his eye.  We knew he was badly hurt so I ran into the restaurant to get Dad and Z.  We came out and everyone was crowded around Shawn, who was sitting on the ground holding his eyes in his hands.
The STX in all her glory, and some other people

"I can't see, Dad." Shawn said.

"Uncover your eyes, son," Dad said.

Shawn did and looked up at Dad.  Dad said his one eye was completely red.  It had filled with blood.

He told us to all get in the van and he would try to find  a hospital.  We were in the middle of Somewhereville, Tennessee or Kentucky.  Dad found a medical clinic.

They clinic said they couldn't do anything for him, but they did call and talk with our eye doctor back in Chicago.  Our eye doctor said it could be treated, but he would have to get back right away, and he shouldn't fly because the change in pressure could cause more damage.

Shawn and I got in Zaremba's van.  The plan was for Z to drive like a bat out hell, trusting on Police professional courtesy to get out of any potential tickets.  The thought was that the van with few people should take the speed risk while Dad, with the bulk of the "children" should drive slower and more cautiously.

We drove straight through.  Shawn had both eyes bandaged over.  We had a pot full of corn on the cob that had been made the night before and to stay awake, and avoid stopping for food, we ate it.  Zaremba would hold the cob in both hands and steer with his elbows as he ate each individual kernel off so clean there was nuthin left for the hogs.  And he did all this while singing barbershop quartet songs and driving well over 90 mph.

We got to the hospital late at night.  They fixed Shawn up, but he spent a week in the hospital with both eyes bandaged.

What about the F-bomb?  Oh, while we were looking for a hospital Dad looked over at Shawn and said, "Why the F@#k did you do that?"

Happy Birthday Dad, and you know what, we ARE impressed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Double Happy Father's Day

I've now lost both my Father and my Father in Law, so I wanted to share this story.  It's not really much of a story, but it means a lot to me and my wonderful bride.

Because Dad had no daughters (at the time) he thought he would never get the chance to walk a daughter down the aisle.  When we were about to be married he made a very special request of my Father in Law to be.

Because he loved Maria and was as excited as anyone to have her as part of our family he asked if it would be possible to show that by meeting my Father in Law and my bride half way down the aisle, and walking with them the rest of the way.

I didn't learn until years later that my Father in Law was very uncomfortable with this but he loved his daughter and my wife loved my Dad and wanted to do this for him.  He reluctantly agreed.

I am eternally grateful to my Father in Law for doing that for my Dad.

Dad always was, well, let's say, a rule bender.  I hope the two of them are together somewhere now enjoying the memory because I sure am.

Happy Father's Day, gentlemen!