Forest Park and Rose Garden

Cherry with a Budweiser toast at Rose Garden in the heightsOn the 9th anniversary of Rip’s passing, Cherry and I went to Forest Park Lawndale cemetery. I flagged down a passing maintenance guy and had him clean all of the ant beds from around Dad’s WWII plaque. Really nice guy and he did an good job of getting rid of the ants.

Then we walked around the Garden of Gethsemane Catholic section for an hour or so remembering so many of the surnames that were on the stones. On the way home we took a reminiscing tour of the North side. After almost getting run over by a big red traveling billboard of a van with a Polish eagle on the side and a driver that I know well, we stopped at one of our old customers, Triple A Restaurant on Airline, for some delicious chicken and dumplings.

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My Daddy

As I think back on my childhood, my mind is flooded with memories of my Daddy, “The Character”, as my older brother has so cleverly referred to him. My earliest memories are of Daddy taking care of the yard. Our yard was a two acre farm nestled in the midst of the 5th largest city in the nation. It was one of the most beautiful things imaginable. He created an amazing place to raise his nine children and managed to do it on the meager salary of a Telephone Company Cable Splicer, all the while saving money for his retirement and investing in stocks, making sure that his children would not have to take care of him in his old age, as he once told me. I think my Daddy was a genius with money. I can’t for the life of me figure out how he did so much with so little. He was quite the handyman, however. I don’t think there was anything he didn’t know how to do. He helped to build his house that he lived in for 50 years and continued to build, remodel and maintain it throughout his lifetime. He rather patiently I think, although some would disagree, taught his 4 boys how to do much with little, and of course after teaching them, enlisted their assistance.

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My Friend Rip Smock

Rip Smock will always be a friend of mine. I first met Rip 32 years ago, when Jim and I drove from Houston to the farm in Waller. Jim wanted me to see the farm and he also wanted me to meet his father and two of his brothers. He told me that Rip didn’t talk much to people that he just met and sometimes he even walked away before he met them. When we arrived at the farm, two of Jim’s brothers, Big John and David came to the truck and his father Rip was walking towards the truck to see Jim. When Rip came to the truck Jim said “Dad I want you to meet Cherry”. Rip said hi and asked me if I wanted a beer and he started to tell me about Granny’s farm. Jim, John and David’s eyes got big and they looked at each other. We stayed there until late afternoon and by then Rip had told me a lot about the farm and what he planted in the gardens. This short time with Rip made me feel like I had known him for years. That first time I was at the farm will always be with me.

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“Hi, Daddy, How are you doing?” I query.

” Okay, Sugar. Where’s Fred?” he replies. There he stands in his garden, hoe in hand, dressed in his old sleeveless undershirt and baggy khaki pants; he’s oblivious to the fact that one pant leg is rolled up, the other is down, and his tennis shoes don’t match.

“Fred’s in the house saying hello to Mom, but I’m sure he’ll be out in a minute to see how your garden is doing.” I comment. This seems to satisfy him and he goes on hoeing the garden.

I never know what to say to my father, but I make another stab at it. “The tomatoes are beautiful this year. Are you selling any?”

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What A Character!

Over my 50 some odd years on this earth, I’ve met a lot of people. Plain vanilla people are fine, but in my adult life, I’ve always been fascinated by people who are different, people who might be labeled as strange, weird, eccentric, or people that just plain march to a different drummer. We sometimes refer to these type of people as characters. My dictionary lists the following as one of the many definitions of character;

…a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities); “a real character”

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Wally’s Way

My father, Walter (Wally), had a certain way of doing things. It’s not that anyone called him Wally to his face, but it did become a running joke among his family. For example: “It has to be done Wally’s way”, which melded into “Ollie’s way”. Fitting, since he had a way of calling people, pets and things by special nicknames. His girls became Suebee, Jubee, Jeebee, and Patter. His two younger sons were the bugger boys until my two sons inherited it. Julie’s dog, Angel, was Angie. He had a unique way of doing everything and I sure am going to miss Ollie’s Way, but I suspect that we all have a little bit of “Ollie’s way” within us.

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