Thursday, February 22, 2007

Day 251: EDM Challenge # 20

I added this new photograph to Creative Journey in my Photography section, Sweet Memories of Dad

This photo is my take on the Everyday Matters Challenge #20: "Something Dad."

Dad's been gone 7 years now. I pulled down the box that holds the things that are still too hard to look through. The pain is not as sharp this year. Among the newspaper clippings, funeral book and files were these three items.

The Idaho driver's license speaks for itself, I suppose. His photo (he looks younger there than when he died). But it's the signature that is just so "Dad" ... that awful handwriting that took such a feat to decipher.

As a child, Dad was probably naturally left handed. But in elementary school, he was forced to write with his right hand. That likely accounts for his scrawl. Mom and Dad had two left-handed children. I'm one of them.

The "8 Ball" has a great story behind it ... of which I only remember part. Back in the 1970s Dad was part of a Kiwanis club made up primarily of businessmen that met for a lunch meeting. The current leadership would take over the meeting and keep things too stiff. So Dad and his cronies that sat together at the "fun table" decided that a change was needed.

They rented zoot suits and spats and fedoras and dressed up like members of the Italian Mob. The mob members were known as "The Eight-a Ball-a Gang." They came in brandishing (fake) firearms, and took over the Kiwanis meeting one week. Each member had one of these eight ball badges with their mob name. My dad was "The Grinder" because he owned an Italian pizza shop where grinder (sub) sandwiches were served.

I remember my dad coming back to the pizza shop laughing heartily and recalling all the details of the spoof to whomever would listen. He and his friends had a blast that day, and the story was told and re-told over the years. (Another member of the Gang was Carl Karcher, founder of the Carl's Jr fast food chain). Obviously it was an important event to Dad. I found the badge in the keepsake box in his dresser after he died ... right next to Mom's wedding band.

Finally is the card that was presented to him when he was discharged from the Army Air Corps at the end of World War II. The card entitled dad to return to any US air base. He carried it in his wallet always.

As I recall the story, one year (I believe in the 1980s) when he and Mom were on a trip, they returned to the air field where Dad was trained -- and where he and Mom met. Dad presented this card at the air force base gate. The airman there had never seen one before, so had to call in a superior officer to see how to handle the request. I believe Mom and Dad did get to have a short tour of the base after Dad did some fancy talking. Dad would call that using moxie.

He was proud to have served in WWII. His uniform hung in the front closet for years. But as I was growing up, he never talked about the war. When the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb came around, Dad returned to Tinian, the island in the south Pacific where he was stationed. That opened a floodgate of memories and he often talked of the war years as he neared the end of his life.

My dad was tough. Hard to know. It took me a long time to get to the point where I enjoyed his company and learned to love him. So glad I made the effort. It was a worthy journey.

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