Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Family Photo

My father's high school graduation photograph for Polo, IL High School was probably taken in a borrowed suit. If it was in the fall he was 16, but I really don't know the time of year in those days that photos were prepared for the yearbook. When people remember my dad, they don't usually comment on his good points--like hard working, honest, loyal son, good looks, etc.--no, it's more likely to be, tough, intimidating or tenacious.

My father never learned to be laid back or keep his opinions to himself until he was maybe 75-80. Like me, (or me like him) he had an opinion on everything, and was quite well read and followed the news. He was a Republican (married to a Democrat), a small businessman, veteran of WWII and the oldest of nine children.

I remember my father's opinions on schools and education. Children, his own or relatives or yours and mine, who had problems in school had one of three problems (or all three): they were 1) lazy, or 2) dumb, or 3) delinquent. With so many siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, children and grandchildren, most of them well educated and living nearby, he learned eventually to keep his unpopular opinions to himself, or leave the house if education came up for discussion. But if you had asked, that would be the answer. He didn't believe in pathologizing bad behavior or sin, and the only acronyms that would have passed his lips were BS and SOB.

Dad was an observant man and may have learned this in his own family. Although Dad went on to college, his brother 17 months younger didn't finish high school. If family lore can be believed, this kid was a problem from the beginning--definitely "oppositional defiant disorder." He had to be "encouraged" to attend the local country school by my grandfather walking him there with an occasional swat and nudge with the boot. But one of Dad's little sisters was reading the newspaper to her blind mother at age 4, and they weren't quite sure how she learned to read so she started school at that age. The brother grew up to be bigger than my dad with a mean, rebellious streak which kept him alive in many dangerous missions in WWII. There's a place for everyone, and apparently it isn't always school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was wonderful to see this today, you described Grandpa very well! Although many only saw the tough hard shell, he had soft spots too...I'm so glad that I got to know him so well in my adult life (as a kid I was pretty intimidated!) I miss him dearly and we still have many laughs about many of his ways:) Every time I see a springtime patch of asparagus or tulips I have to smile and remember the time he "helped" Grandma by "weeding" down at the farm....poor Gram was quite dismayed and banned him from the garden.....only to find the next week that he had "helped" and mowed over her new pink pussywillow bushes:):) Always so fun to see the Friday Photos!..Amy