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~