My father was a plumber and an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.
Moving to California
I am the oldest of four siblings, three girls, and a boy. I was born in California when Dad was still in the Air Force but after he got out, he moved his little family back to his home in Indiana. However, the small rural town he grew up in had few opportunities for jobs. If you didn’t own your own store or gas station, you worked at the shoe factory. My two sisters were born there in Indiana but after a few years, Dad was pretty tired of the shoe factory and wanted something that would ensure advancement. I understand he was pretty tired of shoveling snow as well. My youngest sister was just a year old when he got a call from his father-in-law offering him a partnership in his plumbing business in California. It didn’t take much persuasion for him to jump at the opportunity.
I was about 7 and there was already snow on the ground in Indiana in November but we left that behind us. When we got to California, it wasn’t even cold. As Christmas approached, I wanted to know where the snow was. It was wet but not cold here in California and I was disappointed. I told them all I wanted for Christmas was snow. Everyone laughed at me. They told me it wasn’t going to happen. So I prayed for snow. I figured if Santa Claus couldn’t come through maybe God could.
They tell me that that was the first snow we had here in the valley in 25 years or better. It was only enough to blanket the ground and make things cold. I ran right out and made what turned out to be a mud-man, but I was pretty happy I got my Christmas wish.
When I want to watch a TV show with my parents past my bedtime, my mom always sends me to bed no matter how much I fake being "absorbed" in the program.
Dad and the Door
My Dad was a big Scott and loved to relax in the evenings in his easy chair with one leg up and one arm over his head. In the little house we lived in when I was growing up, Dad’s easy chair was situated right next to our bedroom door. There was a direct line of sight to the TV from our door if Dad only moved one leg down and the other one up. Mom sat across the little room on the couch and was looking away from the bedroom door toward the TV. This meant that a lot could be accomplished if we had Dad on our side.
I know as a 13-year-old, I felt pretty incensed to be sent to bet at 8 or 8:30 in the evenings with the little kids. In the summer months, the sun was still up. That just wasn’t right to my young mind and it makes sense that I would try to stay up and see the late-night movie or the TV shows that came on after bedtime.
Late Night TV
This is a story I wrote for the grandkids using Dad’s voice and infection. If he’d been alive, I was sure this would be a story he would tell.
Lissin ta me when I’ma talkin’ to ya!
When yur momma was a girl, she an her sisters didn’t take kindly ta havin’ an 8 aclock bedtime. Those cookie-crunchers all slept in the same room and would try ta sneek a peek at the TV after momma sent them ta bed. The only thing between them an that TV was me and ma easy chair. Momma would chase them varments off ta bed at 8. And dy-reckly, I’d hear this, “Pssst, pssst… daddy… move your leg so we can see.”
Thar behind me was a totem of three heads in the crack a the door. First time I seen it, I said ta maself, “What in the cat hair is this?” But it tickled me, so, by Gadfree, I moved.
Irregardless, Momma would hear ‘em snickerin’ at the door and WHAM, the door would close on ‘em. Momma put a stop to that like Hogan’s goat. Yessir.
When I was a kid, I thought 8:30 was a late bedtime, now I only wish I could go to bed at this kind of time!
I never knew who Hogan was or what his goat had to do with anything during my childhood, and I suspect dad didn’t either. He always swore by him, though. And it became a saying we came to hear often and love. It was part of Dad’s colorful talk.
I looked it up and apparently, Hogan’s goat is a phrase usually referring to something that is messed up or stinks like a goat. In 1899 there was an extremely popular comic strip called Hogan’s Alley featuring Hogan’s goat. It quickly became a slang term referring to someone who interferes or “butts in”. I don’t think Dad’s frequent references to Hogan’s goat meant anything like that but it just seemed some slang he threw into a conversation.
I don’t know about Gadfree either. I imagine Gadfree just kept Dad from swearing in front of us kids.
Any kid will run any errand for you, if you ask at bedtime.
— Red Skelton
Do you have funny sayings or words your dad used to use? I’d love to read about them in the comments below.