Thursday, October 06, 2011

Memories of Note

My Dad didn't smoke, didn't drink and never said a bad word stronger than Hell, and would apologize for that. It was not easy to maintain that constitution back in his day. Everyone of his friends smoked, I can't think of any grown up I knew when I was a kid who didn't smoke, except my Dad and Mom. It was always my job to go and get the ash tray for Dub, or Gid or Earl and Jo when they came to visit us. I would then have to disappear to my bedroom and go to bed, but I rarely ever went to sleep right away on those occasions. The smell of tobacco and coffee wafting down the hallway, and the conversation that I could almost make out was much too stimulating. I loved listening to my Dad tell stories and converse with his friends.
We lived in a dry county of Texas so liquor was not around, and if those friends drank they did it in secret. However when Dad changed businesses and became a Bond trader in Dallas, Texas the industry was fueled with two martini lunches and cocktail parties. You were just expected to keep up with the guys drink for drink to make a deal. Dad would go up to the bartender and order "a club soda... with none of your comments". He would get to know the bartenders and they would make the club soda look like a mixed drink and sometimes say, "The usual Mr. Johnson," and he would never have to reveal what he was drinking. The last few years of his life he discovered the joy of Baileys Irish Cream in his morning cup of coffee. The last time I was home we had to make a stop at the liquor store for more Balieys. It was the only time I can recall ever buying booze with my Dad. That male bonding experience was late in coming but highly memorable.
In high school I discovered a bottle of rum hidden in the back of the cupboard. It was dusty and old and probably used for "medicinal purposes" long ago. It stayed there for years until one night during my senior year in college.
My best friend Larry Imes enlisted in the Navy and was gone for two years. He came home from duty one evening and called me to pick him up at the airport. I was living at my parents house and commuting to North Texas at the time. We came back to the house and caught up before I took him home to his folks. In celebration of the sailor home from the sea seemed to be a good time to relocate that bottle of rum. It was still there where it always was untouched from my previous discovery. We had rum and Dr Pepper as the hours flew by. At one point the electricity went off and the house went totally dark. It only lasted a few minutes but it was odd. As it got very late my Mom woke up to us giggling in the kitchen. She was surprised to see Larry who was like one of her boys and greeted him appropriately. As Mom was going back to bed Larry said, "Mrs. Johnson, did you know the electricity went out a few minutes ago?" Without missing a beat she said, "It was probably the good Lord telling you to go to bed." Later the next day she asked me how much rum Larry and I drank. I tap danced a little and said, "Just a bit." She pulled the bottle out of the cup board and measured her fingers to display the exact amount we had consumed. She knew exactly how much had been in the bottle before my welcome home party.
As to bad language that is something my Dad never gave into. He thought "Gone with the Wind" was inappropriate with one Damn. This must have been a challenge for him when he was in the Navy. I think cussing like a sailor is the expression. He probably found a good use for the phrase, "I don't give a rats ass" in those days, because that is about all he would stoop to. In fact, when us kids were small he changed it to "Don't give a rats bottom... or simply the initialed explicative "RB". That we were allowed to say, RB in times of great personal trial. It was my favorite and only curse word for years until I found that the F word had more impact in most situations. My high school friend Larry even started repeating RB in times of frustration. I remember five years ago when Larry called me to tell me he had cancer of the liver, I didn't know what to say. He said it all by just saying, "RB"
I knew you didn't recommend a movie to Dad that had even a moderate amount of adult language. He just would not like it if there was any bad language. I am sure that is why my night club act was squeeky clean. I just didn't hear creative uses of certain words when I was growing up. In modern times it was impossible to see a movie that was not objectionable to him with regard to language. It could be the best story in the world, but more than a few bad words and it was not a good film. However, to his credit, when his Grand daughter started working on the producing side of movies he would sit through the worst of language just to see her name go by in the credits. I guess that was Dad. He would do anything for his family.
Larry passed away five years ago, I have had a chance to accept his departure. It has not been long enough since Dad's passing to have a good perspective yet. I guess what we are left with after all is said and done is just memories of what is was like to be with them. I have been blessed with great memories.
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

And one of the very best things about great memories is sharing them. Thanks for sharing.

Roomie said...

That is exactly what we do to get through these times..."cherish the memories!!!!!!"

Bob Conrad said...

Thanks for sharing.