My Dad wasn’t a stranger to me and I always knew that he loved me very much. However, he was not the most open personality, at least to my interpretation, he always had a depth of patience that defied reason, until the bottom of the barrel was reached. Let me explain via three events, two I heard about and one I experienced, although all involve me.
First one, we were visiting one of Mom’s brothers in Blackwell, OK, before he moved his family to Colorado, and they had a swimming pool at their house, which was extremely rare in the mid-’50s in Oklahoma. A bunch of kids were in the pool and I was wading in the shallow end and somehow was knocked down and sitting on the bottom, now too deep to stand and get my head above water. Mom later told me that Dad — who was wearing his good suit — jumped into the pool and rescued me. Not everyone can truly relate that their father actually saved their life, but mine did. He also ruined his best suit and shoes. Sure hope he always felt it was worth it.
The second, I was in the chicken yard feeding grain to the hens when one of the roosters attacked me and knocked me down and started slicing me with its spurs. Mom later told me that Dad grabbed a hatchet, ran into the chicken yard and dispatched the offending rooster with a solid whack! I imagine that we had fried chicken that night, and it was, I’m sure, real goooood!
The third, what it was about I really don’t have a clue. I must have been doing something extremely stupid because I still remember what it felt like for him to give me a swift kick in the butt! When I screw up even now, I can feel his foot kicking me in the ass, and I know that I deserved it then, and also all too often even more so now.
I have so many of his traits. He was a control freak, however he certainly met his match with my Mom. I finally found someone for me that measures up to my penchant for controlling B.S. and she gives me no quarter either.
In today’s five letters you get the sense that Duke, becoming ever more devoted to his Anna Mae, is starting to worry a little about the future, about whether he will ever get to go back home, and whether his Anna Mae will be there if he does make it through the war. In September of 1942, the war’s outcome is certainly not determined, and we are not sure how much he is thinking about the big picture. Since he and I never got to talk about any of this, I have no insight into his frame of mind at this time of his life. I’m just tripping on getting to know my Dad as a twenty-five year old guy. As a fifty-four year old father of one, I look at him as I would a student in one of the freshman classes I taught at Tulsa University, and also as my Dad. It’s a very Kevin Costneresque experience — as per the final catch scenes in the movie Field of Dreams.
Once again, my father’s letters . . . (db)
I see you haven’t as yet gotten a letter saying I am well, as a matter of fact, I guess I never was very sick.
So, you don’t know how to act in an up town theater, well don’t feel too badly about getting lost. I remember the first larger theater I ever attended. If it hadn’t been for the usher I would have probably gone out the exit & missed the show.
I hope you don’t acquire too many of those big town ideas. I like you just as you are. I am more than glad you got the opportunity to work at a better job but don’t let it change you too much & I’ll do the same.
Didn’t I ever tell you about the way I wash clothes? Well, to start with, we don’t have a washing machine as you probably have already guessed. We use a scrub brush and scrub to beat H_ _ _, then turn the clothes wrong side out & fold them along the seam while they are soaking wet & hang them out to dry without wringing them out. In this way, when they dry, they are pressed. You’d be surprised how good they turn out. Some of the boys have irons but I never use one & my clothes look just as well, believe it or not. Those white suits sure get dirty.
I saw Bill a couple of days ago, he is starting to school in a day or so, I don’t know much about it, I only saw him for a minute.
Bob, my friend here, said to tell you hello & he hung your picture in my locker for me, did a real good job of it too.
He (Bob) still says he is going to send you that picture of him you asked for. I am also going to send you a picture & in the near future too, I promise.
I am still taking my medicine & feel a lot better. I don’t feel like I need it now, but the doctor said to take it so I am.
I am tired tonight. We shot a battalion here this morning & are at Bradford this afternoon. Then I washed my clothes & now I am writing you. It is almost time for lights out so I had better bathe & get to bed. We have inspection by the Captain tomorrow. Everyone dresses in his best & the Captain gives us the once over, just like you have probably seen in the movies. Well, good night darling, & be good.
I just got back from Portsmouth Hospital.