It has taken me several months to finally sit down and tell my story about me and my Dad.
My earliest recollection is when we lived in Long Island New York. About the time Mitzi came around. He used to love to tell us a "bomb" went off, when it snowed. We thought the first snow was tiny spiders (like Charlotte's Web) were falling everywhere.
MY most vivid memories of Daddy were in Houston, Texas. I was a bit of a tom-boy, since mom had a small child, so I tried to do EVERYTHING.with him. And he really taught me so much then. I loved baseball and Evil Knievel. We spent a lot of time at the Houston Astrodome. He taught me tennis, baseball, swimming, snorkeling, basketball frisbee, gymnastics, track and bowling. And of course roller skating (with the old- time ones you just put over your sneakers). But the most fun was stock car racing. The little electric ones. You could go to a public track, and race against other people. We would work on "tricking-out" ours so we could win. And we did (once and awhile). I can still smell that smell. Ozone? He loved Magic and I was enthralled and so proud of my dad. Especially, since I got to be his assistant. We raised white doves and white bunnies for the tricks. My most fun was bringing him in for "show and tell" (I must have been about 9 yrs. old.) We did tricks on the stage for or school. Whitcomb Elementary. I got to be the girl that was levitated!
Every summer, we went to the Bahamas a few weeks and Grandma Cartwrights a few weeks. At Grandma Cartwright's, we learned how to feed all the farm animal, and do a TON of chores, but especially enjoyed riding horses. And we even had a buggy back then. Grandma Cartwright's taught Mitzi and I ALOT of things. Saddling and bridle a horse, brushing them out and shooting BB guns. One of the things grandma raised, besides exotic birds and monkeys, was a 3-legged alligator. We actually fed that thing hamburger meat! My Dad also taught me to drive a mini bike (in Houston), which I loved!
Our Grandmother raised cows for milking (which we had to do every morning, while we were there), and the milk was "forced upon us" to drink.. UGH.. But they also took all their milk to Gustaffson farm and they would pasteurize it for us.. (since Mitzi and I were whimps and grossed out). She also had a wooden butter churn and we took turns with that (that was sure a lot of work). Grandma also raised chickens for egg and eating. Under our Father's watchful eye, We had to learn how to catch a chicken, chop it's head off, pluck it, gut it and clean it, THEN we cooked it and HAD to eat it. Very hard for "city girls", but he always wanted to instill in us "survival." He was big on that. Our father taught us to shoot a gun, any weapon, really, and shoot it WELL, and all the rules you need to not hurt yourself or someone else.. Basically common-sense (his favorite word).
Towards the later years, after our parents divorced, I continued to meet up with him to play racquet ball, and tennis, and he was a damn competitive player. He would never let me win. After he moved back at the "farm" Grandma Cartwright's place, we continued, as well as with my daughters, to ride 4-wheelers, (which HE taught them) and just run around out there. I feel so lucky that my girls, who are now in their 20's, were able to listen to his stories and enjoy the outdoors. They drove a tractor and a truck, before they could drive! but it was so safe out there. Both of them embrace that and still do, to this day.
When he became ill, he still had a wicked sense of humor. And enjoyed being outside with his grandchildren. All of them. He was a tough Dad, but with age he mellowed (to a degree!!) and we had wonderful talks. I miss him dearly, to this very day.. He was a wealth of information, about anything and everything. I miss talking to him. I miss him.
He was a devoted stepfather and was married for 30yrs. I wish we had more time.
-a REAL character
-a steady and true man
- And an all around amazing, genius with a huge heart.