Many women keep journals. My mom keeps a journal and has for years. I know it's full of her memories, her dreams - her history. My blog is my journal.
On January 5th, 2011 - thirty days from now, it will be the 30th anniversary of dad's death. So, for the next 30 days, I'm going to share some stories that involve my dad that I want my kids and grandkids to know and remember. It's sad when I think that in all reality, my kids know very little about their grandfather. They don't really know his sense of humor, the real danger of his job, yet his deep love for it, his quirks and oddities, and his injuries - I look back on his life and wonder how he survived as long as he did. I'll talk about his premonition of his death, his artwork, his favorite places and other stories that I think are important. With some help from my mom, I hope I can do this justice and that mom and my sisters will jump in here along the way to add their comments and memories.
Mom and dad and the early years...
Mom moved to California from Boise after attending college. That March, she was set up on a blind date with a handsome Marine. His buddy Marines were so surprised and happy that he actually had a date that they all loaned him clothes - slacks, dress shirt, corduroy jacket, shoes, and socks. The ONLY thing he wore that night that actually belonged to him were his undershorts. After they were married, mom asked him where all his nice clothes were and he had to fess up that they had all been borrowed.
Dad on the far left - was he skipping?????
Two and a half months after meeting, they were married. Surely it wouldn't last! That August, just 3 months after they married, dad was sent to Camp Pendleton to train for the Korean War. Just before leaving for the war by ship, he decided he needed to see mom one last time. The Marines, not taking kindly to the AWOL, demoted him to Private once he was back on board. However, I don't think it was something he ever regretted doing.
Several years ago, I was going through some of dad's things and found the letter he had written to my mom's parents requesting their permission to marry mom. It was so cute. I'm so grateful that I have these letters and things tucked away and hope that someday one of my kids will be the "keeper" of this important family history.
After dad returned from Korea, he went to college at Humboldt State University. Their life was tough. Not the kind of tough for young married kids these days - I mean tough. They lived in a tiny village in a tiny, moldy house. They often had very little to eat and no money to do anything. I think the only thing that got them through so much of their early years was the fact that most every other couple in the village was in the same boat. They all had each other.
At one point during dad's college years, they lived in a tent on the northern California coast while he was doing research on fish. My brother Steve had been born and raising a new baby while living in a tent was very difficult. They ate mostly what dad could catch because it was free, and to this day, mom won't eat salmon or crab.
Once dad got a job as a Game Warden they spent much of their lives moving as many Game Wardens do. His first job was in Las Vegas then Winnemucca, Garden Valley, and finally Boise. I know mom hated Winnemucca. Dust and wind, sagebrush and scorpions. But dad loved the desert. Up to the day he died, the desert was one of his favorite places.
In 1964, dad received word that he had been accepted as a Game Warden in Garden Valley. I know mom was excited to be leaving the contanstly blowing wind to live in a small beautiful town with pine trees and water. It was such a change from the years of dust that they couldn't wait to get there. However, they would have to wait another year before they would leave Winnemucca.
There were some internal problems at the Winnemucca Police Department and the City Council asked dad if he would consider taking the job of Chief of Police to help them through. Dad agreed to take the job under the condition that he would be leaving in a year. He took on this new role with determination and was an HONEST Police Chief which made some of the town councilmen, a few police officers, attorneys, and some others, very unhappy. Evidently, some of the officers were getting "Christmas bonuses" from some of the local Madams at the Ho Houses to not interrupt things (especially during the winter when a lot of the locals were using their services). I guess doing away with the "Christmas bonuses" didn't make dad real popular, but, according to mom, "I was so proud of the job he'd done when we left!"
I'm sure that was the year from hell for mom. She was on the verge of moving back to Idaho where her family lived and yet it was going to have to wait...