Saturday, June 18, 2022

A Father's Day Post - Reposted

originally posted in 2009

Daughters and their daddies.

There's a special bond between the two, and if you grew up with a dad like mine it makes for fun and lovely memories. And some terrific stories when you're all grown up. All grown up maybe, but at times miss your dad so badly you feel as small and unprotected as you did when you were 4 and wanted him to chase away the monsters living in your bedroom closet.

Here are a few of my memories of my dad . . .

From the time I was 3 months old until I was 16 we lived in a wonderful old apartment in Cambridge, Md. The Arcade Apartments. I loved that place. All the rooms were big and spacious and the living room and the dining room had big bay windows with window seats. The kitchen was huge and our stove was an old one that sat up on legs. Remember those old stoves? Anyone else have one of those?

A friend of my mother's, Clara Rook, kept bringing me little chicks one Easter. Those pitiful little chicks that people would dye pink and blue and green at Easter time? AWFUL! and, of course, they usually died fairly quickly, bless their hearts. Well, my sweetie pies didn't. They just kept getting bigger and bigger. In an apartment! Daddy knew I loved those chicks. Every time the subject came up about them being too big to live in an apartment, I would start crying. Finally my dad put some chicken wire around the legs of that old stove and put the chickies in there. You just know how much my mother loved this, right? The chicks just kept growing and one morning I woke up hearing my dad yelling some pretty bad words. The chicks had knocked down the chicken wire and they were all hopping on Mom & Dad's bed. For real.

The chicks went to granny's that day. I was told they were going there so they'd have a big yard to "play" in. uh huh. Sunday Dinner. I'll never get over it. We went to my grandmother's for dinner and the minute I walked into the dining room I spied the fried chicken on platters on the table. Mother tells me I just squalled "My Sweetie Pies! Oh Nooooooo - You've cooked my Sweetie Pies!" and cried and cried and cried. Heartbroken. And nobody ate fried chicken that day.

I have a million memories of that apartment. But let me set the record straight - it wasn't a fancy big city type apartment. This was small town living. And we were not wealthy people; not by any stretch of the imagination. There was no private entrance into our apartment. There was a downstairs lobby, and in the lobby was the entrance to the Arcade Movie Theater. If we were out and arrived home before the movie started, it meant mingling with the line of people buying tickets to see a movie before we would get upstairs and into our apartment. Since it was a small town and everyone knew everyone, it sometimes took awhile to get through all the "Hi, How are You's?" and get up the stairs to home. And, since neither of us had a key to the apartment, which meant it was never locked, we also never knew who might be there waiting for us when we did get home. But it seemed there was always someone. It might have been one of my many aunts or uncle or cousins - there was a gracious plenty of them. Or it might be one of dad's cronies, or one of mother's girlfriends, or friends of mine from school. Amazingly enough now as it might sound, it was never cause for concern back then. It was just an accepted thing. That apartment was, as my mom often said, "Grand Central Station." (There are enough of these stories to keep this little blog of mine going for the next several years.)

There was also a jewelry store owned by Mr. & Mrs. Henry DeVoe in the lobby of the Arcade. Sometimes on Saturdays they would babysit me while Mother did the grocery shopping if Dad had to work. It was the beginning of my love affair with jewelry. Mr. DeVoe was my buddy - he opened my first charge account. Remember the silver bands we called "Friendship Rings?" They were $1.00. Sterling silver bands for $1.00. Can you imagine? Well, I loved those, but would lose them often. He would let me charge one and pay him on installments out of my allowance. About the time I'd have one paid off, I'd lose it and he would let me charge another one.

There was also a beauty shop, and an insurance company and I was in and out of those places like I owned them. I don't know why those people put up with it. If some poor woman was having her hair washed, I'd just march right over while she had her head in the sink and strike up a conversation.

I don't think I'd trade my growing up years in Cambridge for a beezillion dollars.

My dad played basketball, and was apparently quite good. While growing up, I would hear stories about his basketball career. Many times in school my teachers and parents of my friends seemed stunned when realizing who I was - that I could be Alan Wilkinson's daughter and not have any more athletic ability than Adam's house cat was just not understood.

I had been gone from Cambridge for many, many years, and my dad had been gone for many years when Donald and I were home for a visit. We had gone out to the High Spot for dinner with our friends Pam and R.T., who I grew up with and graduated from Cambridge High with. Pam said there was someone in the restaurant she wanted me to meet - he had been a friend of my dad's. When she introduced me, he said he had played ball with my dad and besides my dad being quite talented, he had a trait which he admired even more and that was the simple fact that my dad was also a gentleman - off and on the court. "A good, clean playing ballplayer," he said. and I promptly burst into tears.

It's a lovely thing to have someone remember your dad in such a sweet and simple, exceptionally special way.

He was a very good man, my dad.

"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."
Clarence B. Kelland

1. Lewis, 2. Irvin, 3. Roy, 4. Ethel, 5. Alan (my dad), 6. Pop Pop (Irvin), 7. Belle, 8. Grandmother Laura Mae. Picture taken by older brother Ed

Dad taught me to ride a bike - and I vividly remember when he was trying to teach me how to drive a car he made a comment or two about how the bike learning experience had been a whole lot more fun and less traumatic for both of us.

We were all three HUGE Oriole fans and it was a very big deal and very special occasion for us to go to Baltimore for a game. Not as big a deal as going there for a Colt's game, but still a big deal.

And pretty special to get to Ocean City too. (Think he's wondering "What's with the HAT?!)

Pop Pop's 90th Birthday - July 18, 1965
In front - Aunt Belle, Dad
In back - Uncle Lewis, Pop-Pop, Uncle Irv, Uncle Roy, Aunt Ethel, Uncle Ed

Deep sea fishing - Morehead City, NC

"It's sad when our daddies die. It makes one less person inside."
Pamela Ribon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kaye, this was just lovely. I never knew my father very well and this gives me a whole lovely world of what could have been. Thelma in Manhattan