Wednesday, July 31, 2013

You Never Knew with Daddy

My father was always a curious sort. You never knew what was going to capture his fancy. Looking back on it, he was a type of renaissance man. Once he was interested in something, especially something unique, he would spend hours reading up on it and talking with any expert in the field he could find. It is a shame he died prior to being able to grasp the realm of the Internet. There is no wonder where it would have taken him.

It was not unusual for us to have a gallon of vodka sitting on the bookshelf in the den with 2 or 3 vanilla beans marinating in the process of making homemade Kahlua. Once he had a Black Russian, and learned that he could make Kahlua at home, of course he was going to try. Certainly he could improve on the recipe.

He loved the game of chess. In looking for books for his library he found a gentleman with a shared interest in the game. They decided to play a game by mail. So in our living room he had a chess set sitting on a side table with the ongoing game. He and his friend exchanged postcards, each showing the board and the pieces and the moves they were making - one move at a time. A game could last a year or so, given it was all done by US mail. 

Speaking of mail, when we were younger we would spend two weeks each summer down at my grand parents' beach house at Windy Hill. One year Daddy decided we needed to send letters in bottles off in the ocean. So we each wrote a letter, "To whom it may concern, if you find this bottle ...." Then Daddy carefully sealed each note in a glass coke bottle and sealed it with wax. We went to the end of the fishing pier and tossed them into the ocean on their way to some foreign land. 

Now, all we had to do was wait. My brother was convinced a pirate would find his. Being smart (at age 6) and knowing geography, I was certain it was headed for the shores of England.  And, any day our notes would safely wash up on those shores and we would hear from the lucky person who found it. Needless to say I am still waiting to get word that my bottle has arrived.

When we were younger, it was not unusual for him to start speaking to us in French. During the Korean conflict Daddy served aboard an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. He spent most of his leave in France and managed to learn the language. He often decided breakfast conversations would be conducted in French. Because of this, as young children, we learned some rudimentary French. Unfortunately the school we went to did not see the value of teaching young students a foreign language. And, even worse, I never took it seriously enough to learn what I could from him.

One of Dad's former Navy buddies sold helicopters. He and his wife would visit with us occasionally. On one of their visits they came in on their personal helicopter and spent the night. Now, when I say "personal" I mean a helicopter that sat 6 people comfortably. The following morning Daddy had arranged for us to take a ride in the helicopter. He told us to bring our books because they would be taking us to school.

We left the airport and flew over our town, the city gardens, and even got to see our house from above. Then we turned toward our school. When I looked down, I saw the whole student body and all the faculty coming out of the buildings. Dad's friend circled the campus a time or two before he sat the helicopter down in the field next to the school. Dad opened the door for us to get out and there was the headmaster waiting to escort us to class. I was humiliated beyond belief.

My brother and I had to walk across the field with the headmaster while God and everyone watched us. The helicopter took off behind us and everyone (except my brother and I) waived enthusiastically to the big bird as it made its way back to the airport. We later learned that Daddy had called the school to tell them how we were arriving to make sure it would be OK to land in the field. The headmaster, who was a good friend of Dad's, said when everyone heard the helicopter circling overhead, he thought since it was a warm sunny morning, it would be fun for everyone to take a break, come out, and watch. 

Dad got home for supper that night, he was beside himself. "Wasn't that great?" I explained how humiliated I was and how I found the whole thing embarrassing. "Embarrassing? How many of your friends can say they came to school in a helicopter?" "None. But, we had walk across that whole field with Mr. Burns in front of everyone." His response was even more frightening, "Oh, sweetheart, you know I would never embarrass you. Next time, I'll do better." I just hoped there wouldn't be a next time.


Lynn Roach Fralick said...

You married a man just like your father!

Ann Currie said...

I'm not so sure about that. I'm not sure I could handle two in one life time.