Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Dad and The Junk Box

Dad - mid 1930

This post is in memory of my Dad whose photos I keep on my side bar, along with other members of my family.  He had his own junk box.  Under his careful eye when I was very young, he would often let me go through it.  There were all kinds of interesting collectibles, like old newspapers on important events kept from as far back as the early 30's, and old musical scores.  I would see those on the piano.  He was a great piano player and though I never learned to play myself, he taught me how to enjoy opera.  As a little girl I had no idea that this beautiful music had an identity, back then it was just my Dad playing the piano, but what we sang to were actually opera pieces.  He had a very good singing voice.

My Dad was an amazing judge of character which I know I have mentioned before.  That trait came in useful in his days as a 30 year career police officer, where it was probably fine tuned.  Not too long after retiring and after we had moved down to Devon, a friend of his whom he he had known up north, was opening a solicitor's office in the next town. He asked Dad to join him and help him set it up.  He enjoyed the work so much he ended up staying for another 20 years.

A little while ago Gregg reminded me of a story from one of our visits back home, when Dad asked if he would like to go to the court house in Exeter.  Through his work Dad knew all kinds of interesting people and Gregg was always impressed with how well liked Dad was by many, from the QC's to the man who had the food truck nearby where he used to get his cups of tea.

On the way they had picked up a 'client' who was to appear before the judge that afternoon.  Dad noticed his shoes were badly worn and falling apart and said you can't go up before the judge in those sorry looking shoes my lad, and he took this young man to the nearest shoe store, and bought him a brand new pair out of his own pocket.  He could always see what others could not see in a person and anyone could come to him if they needed help.  He always said, "Neesy, you can't go far wrong living by the Golden Rule."  (And if you are wondering who Neesy is, that's a nickname my family used for me as far back as I can remember.  It is used even now but only these days by Gregg and  my brother-in-law and niece who live in Germany). 

My Dad and I used to have a lot of heart-to-hearts and as I grew older I could see there was much wisdom in what he was trying to teach me.  As a police officer he definitely saw a darker side of life and having two daughters he knew he couldn't wrap us up in cotton wool, but he took care of us in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle ways.  He knew when to put his foot down and just simply say, "No, no daughter of mine is going to......." and that was that, to whatever we had wanted to do.  We might as well have been living in the Victorian times once you passed through our gate but yes, we always paid mind to our Dad.  He was strict but never cruel, always explaining his reasons,  loving and kind, could joke with you and had a great sense of humor.  There was always a lot of laughter in our household.  And whenever we had a problem we could always go to our Dad.

But....I wanted to join the police force.  A look of astonishment followed by, "What?  No daughter of mine is going to join the police force."  The thought was incomprehensible,  still new territory for women back then I think.  Still a bit of a man's world, though we were making headway. I wanted to go to London to art school.  Again that look of astonishment on my Dad's face.  "No ruddy daughter of mine is going up to London."  It might as well have been Sodom and Gomorrah.  Truth be told that even though I was really upset at the time, and there was plenty of eye rolling on my part and probably Dad's too, and yes I can be the Queen of the Eye Rolls.  I am still working on that even after all these years and think maybe in certain situations that life offers, I ought to put a brown paper bag over my head. Anyhow, if I had done any of those things I had wanted, I would never have met Gregg and you wouldn't be reading this story.  So, I remember another thing Dad used to tell me, "Things have a way of working out eventually, even if you don't understand them at the time."

Dad would be the first person to say that he was not perfect but I think he taught us well.  No, I am not perfect either.  Gregg occasionally calls me "Judge Roy Bean" as I have always tended to see things in black and white, another thing I am working on.  But I am my father's daughter, a little cynical and definitely overly-cautious at times, but I try each and every day to find the good in people and yet at the same time know when it is time to let them go.  Hopefully I will never burn any bridges behind me.  

It would have been my Dad's 96th birthday today.  He's been gone for many years and I will always miss him.

Happy Birthday Dad!
This is for you.

The Junk Box

My father often used to say:
"My boy don't throw a thing away:
You'll find a use for it some day."

So in a box he stored up things,
Bent nails, old washers, pipes and rings,
And bolts and nuts and rusty springs.

Despite each blemish and each flaw,
Some use for everything he saw;
With things material, this was law.

And often when he'd work to do,
He searched the junk box through and through
And found old stuff as good as new.

And I have often thought since then,
That father did the same with men;
He knew he'd need their help again.

It seems to me he understood
That men, as well as iron and wood,
May broken be and still be good.

Despite the vices he'd display
He never threw a man away,
But kept him for another day.

A human junk box is this earth
And into it we're tossed at birth,
To wait the day we'll be of worth.

Though bent and twisted, weak of will,
And full of flaws and lacking skill,
Some service each can render still.

~Edgar Guest~


  1. Aww Denise, that's a wonderful tribute to your Dad, and the poem is so appropriate. Having worked for the police in my time, I have to say that I have the greatest admiration for them.

  2. Denise, what a lovely post about your Dad. He sounds like a great man. A perfect father! You have some nice memories and stories about him, I enjoyed reading this post. Have a great day!

  3. Lovely post Denise. Aren't certain memories grand. I have the best of my Dad also. Hope you have a nice weekend.
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  4. Denise,that was such a lovely story.Thank you for sharing your Dad with us.
    Jane x
    PS My schoolfriend was called Neesie...I still call her Neesie. I have to remind myself that others know her only as Denise!

  5. very sweet, denise. a good man. sounds like a good leader, too.

  6. Fabulous post about your dad, Denise. Sounds like you were brought up in a wonderful family, and there's absolutely no good substitute for that!

  7. Gee, your love for your dad definitely shows though.

  8. A lovely tribute to your Dad and a very apt poem. A well written and entertaining story, Neesy.

  9. Oh Denise, I love it.... What a fabulous tribute to your Daddy... I miss mine even to this day --and he died in 1969... Sniff...

    Love the poem...

  10. Denise this is just beautiful. I loved reading it. I had no Dad so I love other people's Dad Stories.
    And you are not the Queen of Eye-Rolling, I am - just ask any of my family.....

  11. What a wonderful narrative about your father. I know about eye rolling myself (as did my Dad).

  12. ooohhhh Denise, what a beautiful and very special tribute to your dad!

  13. I loved this post Denise, such a wonderful tribute to your lovely Dad. It made me think of my own Dad. Great poem too. A x

  14. This touches my heart. I can relate to this in many ways. Thanks, Denise.

    Sorry about the spam!

  15. you have touched my heart today
    more than you can know.

    thank You.

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  16. Hi Denise, this is a beautiful, heartwarming post...and a great tribute to your dad. It sounds like he was a wonderful man, so happy you shared your memories here. Thank you!

  17. Thanks for letting us know about your father, Denise. We often feel our parents are being too strict with us in our younger days, later we see the wisdom on their decisions. You seem vey much your father's daughter in all the best ways.

  18. Beautiful memories from an open Junk Box

  19. Oh I just love your Dad! He reminds me so much of my own, who I lost almost two years ago now...Dad said NO a lot and as a child or teen I never realized he was just protecting me. I am so thankful now that he was that kind of father. He also had a tender heart, especially about children, and the story of your Dad buying those shoes for that boy also reminded me of my Dad. That was incredibly sweet! Great tribute, Denise.

  20. What a lovely tribute to your dad. I enjoyed reading about him and your reminiscences of him.

  21. What a wonderful, beautiful man, Denise. You were truly blessed. I just loved reading this post.

  22. What a lovely post Denise. I never had a Dad as a role model, but hopefully I am doing quite well as a Dad myself. I certainly have a junk box.

  23. I never had a dad as a role model Denise. Heavens know. Very opposite of yours. He was stick but he was mean.

    Enjoyed your story with pictures.

    That was cute he had a junk box.

    You could through it. Neat.

  24. Thanks for visiting, loved reading all your comments.

  25. Sounds like you were very blessed.

  26. I came to SkyWatch and could not help opening this post instead. I would have liked to have your dad as a friend, he seems to have been such a sound, reliable man. I lost my father to the Russians when I was four and have missed him ever since. When I look at youth today, I think we were 'molly coddled'. I was not allowed out without a chaperone until I went to university!
    Thank you for sharing the story of your dad and that insightful poem with me.