My youngest memories are of a Daddy who was fun and funny.
When my sister and I were little, he went to work before we were awake in the morning. Christy and I always got up before Mommy, who worked at night. On the kitchen table Daddy set up a little breakfast for us. He wrote our names, with his beautiful handwriting, on a little piece of paper for each place. He put cereal in the bowls and milk in the matching, pastel, tupperware cups with lids. We each had a spoon and napkin next to the bowl.
When Daddy came home at three o’clock, he washed his hands with Lava soap to get the car oil off. He was a mechanic. He watched news on TV or did yard work until dinner time. Sometimes he made dinner. He liked to make pancakes and chili. The first time I had barbequed ribs, I asked him what they were. He told me, “elephant toes.” I wasn’t sure that was true, but I ate them anyway.
We watched a lot of cowboy shows like: Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Rifleman and Paladin. Daddy relaxed on the sofa with his knees tucked up so he was an “h” shape. I liked to sit behind him and pretend he was a fort. I didn’t get to do that very often, most likely I wiggled too much.
My Daddy could whistle through the space in his front teeth. He snapped his fingers and sang along with Roger Miller and Marty Robbins.
One year for Valentine’s Day, Daddy bought Mommy a big box of chocolates. I thought the heart-shaped box was beautiful, decorated with lace, ribbon and roses. The best part was, he gave Christy and me our own, smaller Valentines, decorated with lace, ribbons and roses.
When Mommy was at work, Daddy had his hands full with us girls. He gave us pony rides. He read to us, and one time I asked him to draw a picture of me. The result, in my five year old opinion, looked like a boy and I was not happy. Poor Daddy really wanted it to be nice, but I suppose little kids don’t understand such things.
If the sun is up, it is not night. My Daddy could not convince me that it was. It didn’t matter if it was eight o’clock, it was too light for bed. I went, but I did not believe it was time. I looked out my window and watched the cars that drove by, on their way to the drive-in movies down the road, or told myself stories until I was sleepy.
Saturday was the best day. Daddy was off and we could go for car rides. We visited our cousins, went for hikes in the desert and found pretty rocks and lizards. I still love the smell of sagebrush. Sometimes we had popsicles, my favorite was cinnamon. I loved to ride down Wedekind Road where the pretty pastures with long white fences and the horse ranches were.
I saved my popsicle sticks, so I could pretend to shave my whiskers when Daddy shaved his. I put soap on my face and scraped it off with the popsicle stick and rinsed the stick in Daddy’s shaving water. One day he said, “if you keep shaving, you will grow real whiskers.” I believed that might be true, so I stopped.
My parents didn’t stay together. Daddy remarried when I was seven. My new Mommy had a sweet little boy, Jeff. Christy and I loved him to pieces and we were happy we had a brother. Eventually we got another brother, Scott, and two sisters, Kelli and Laura.
In the summer, Daddy grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, and we had watermelon and potato salad. Our special treat was a case of Shasta Soda, which had to last us as long as possible.
We got a little, silver. poodle puppy. His name was Nicky. I thought he was so cute. On Saturdays, Daddy mowed the lawn and he made up a song about how great dog doo was. Us kids got the job of cleaning up the lawn before Daddy mowed.
Nicky always played outside us. We played dodgeball or ran around and did cartwheels and somersaults, and threw the tennisball for Nicky.
One of my birthdays, Daddy brought me the coolest Hippie beads. They were yellow and orange, and a matching pair of orange sunglasses. I collected the pretty cards he gave me. They were of large eyed girls. I tried to draw them for fun.
Watching Saturday cartoons, a commercial for Tootsie Pops stuck in my head, “Pop, pop, Tootsie Pop, yum, yum, yum…” That was where I got the idea to change my Daddy to Pop. That name has stuck. Everyone calls him Pop.
When I was fourteen, Pop moved to Lake Tahoe with his third wife, Cindy, who had two boys, Rich and Louis, and a girl, Michelle. When all of us were together, it was a riot. If there was food on your plate, Pop would ask you, “What’s that?” pointing the other way. If you looked, he would steal the food you had.
Pop played baseball with us in the backyard. Every once in a while he called a name and threw a pop-up ball. We got good at catching them.
When my cockatiel, Merlin, escaped from our house, and flew up into a tall pine tree, I was afraid she was lost forever. The Fire Department told me they didn’t rescue pets. That night it rained hard. I sadly went to school the next morning. When I got off the school bus in the afternoon, I was surprised to hear Merlin calling me from inside the house. She always knew when I got home. I ran inside and there she was, on Pop’s shoulder. Pop had climbed up the tree and caught her in a paper grocery bag.
Pop and Mom moved to Northern California after I graduated High School. I thought I wanted to live with my real mother, so Christy and I moved to Las Vegas with her.
Pop bought his own gas station and mechanic shop.
Pop and Mom bought five acres in the woods near Grass Valley. It has a big pasture that once had a horse, but now it is mostly visited by deer. All the kids have grown up. We tragically lost Michelle, and a little later, Louis passed away as well. They are dearly missed. Pop and Mom helped raise some of the grandkids, who are often around.
All of the grandkids love visiting Grandpa and Grandma. Pop is still up to his old tricks He told my daughter there was one more Oreo with double stuff in the kitchen. When she went to get it, he told her, “it sure was good.” She was tiffed about that for a long time. And then one day out of the blue, he sent her an entire package of Oreos with double stuff.
Every year the family tries to get together and have a picnic at Bower’s Mansion here in Northern Nevada, between Reno and Carson City. It is a fun day of bring what you like to eat and just walk around and talk, or play catch, or catch up on everyone’s news.
Pop and Mom still live in the woods in Northern California. They grow a big garden, which I still like to raid when I can. They grow things that don’t grow well in my area of Northern Nevada. I hope the deer don’t eat all of their figs this year.
Pop and Mom.