"I remember one summer afternoon I misbehaved, can't remember what I did, but my mother was not at all happy with me. She said, 'Just wait 'til your dad gets home.' As soon as he walked in the door, my mother told him and he came into the living room and said I was to go with him to the basement. I don't think my dad ever gave me a spanking in my entire life, but I thought that was coming to a screeching halt right then. He had a big workbench and he told me to come over and stand by him. He reached for a yardstick and slapped the workbench with it about 3 or 4 times, and he leaned down and told me to yell. Boy, did I ever! I guess it was from relief. Before we went upstairs he said, 'You mind your mother, or next time it will be for real.'
"My good buddy was Don Haynes, who loved across the street from us. We played together with our Tootsie Toy trucks, we made roads and lakes and tunnels and towns, and I don't know what all! We played in the park, under the Garfield Street bridge, at the reservoir, at the pond where we caught frogs and up on the race track in back of his house. My dad told me Barney Oldfield used to race there. At one time it had a large grandstand and an infield where they used to play football.
"One day Don was at his grandpa's workshop, (his grandparents lived next door to us) and he found some wire out of an old car battery. This was the thinnest wire I ever saw, just like fine thread. We were sitting on our back step wondering what we could do with this neat wire, when all of a sudden, we got the best idea that we had all summer, up to that point! Ten feet from were we were sitting was this flowering crab apple tree, in full bloom, with a whole flock of bumble bees going over the flowers like miniature vacuum cleaners. Now, we used to get a glass jar with a lid and catch these babies, and then get some kitchen matches, light them and drop the match in to stun the bees, and let them go. Well, this time we took this new-found treasure, the wire, made a slip knot, and slipped it over the bees after we had stunned a couple of good sized beauties. We cut about fifteen feet of the wire off and after a little while, the bees started to come to, and we discovered that we each had a remote controlled bee. We both decided what better place to try our flying skills, than up town. So, off we went, our bees flying out in front of us in formation, and we were piloting them in the direction that we wanted them to go. We went to Clark's Barber Shop, right on Main Street, and plunked ourselves down on the big steps right by the barber pole. We got our bees headed down the sidewalk as people were coming toward us. We'd get our bees flying towards their faces, and then we'd pull them back and shorten up on the wire. Man, were we ever having a ball! I'll bet we did that to seven or eight people, and we wee laughing 'til we almost had tears. We saw two women coming up the sidewalk and we let the bees go toward them. The bees got close to the women's faces and they started swatting at them. All at once, Don and I discovered that we had made a fatal error. These two women were our Mothers headed toward the bakery for a soda. We not only lost our bees, but we got our butts paddled right there on Main Street, and they never even asked us to go with them for a soda."
As I read these stories, so lovingly written by my dad, I can picture the events in my mind. I can see my grandfather in the basement with dad and that big workbench.. And as surely as I was standing there, I can see my grandmother and her friend swatting at those bees!
It's fitting that I post these handwritten notes from my father this day. His birthday was yesterday.
Thanks for the memories, Dad.
More to come.