Even though I am now a grandpa, I still think back to my wonderful childhood. I probably didn’t realize then just how wonderful it was. Few of us do. My father was well above the average, but I assumed everybody’s dad was like that. They weren’t.
So what was so special about mine? First off, we were poor. I never knew it though because we always seemed to have everything we wanted — a loving family, a radio, always food on the table and of course MY PAPA!
We had no automobile at that time so everything we did required a good deal of walking and a thorough knowledge of the Massachusetts transit system. There wasn’t a circus, Ice Capades, rodeo, or any event that my father didn’t manage to take me to. We visited every museum and place of interest within the city, even the art museum, which I doubt my father had any interest in but he thought that exposing me to it was a good idea.
This was all during the WWII years and each time a submarine, battleship or aircraft carrier was open to the public, we went. To this day I still find this stuff fascinating.
I remember him taking me to New York City as part of my 13th birthday present, It was my first flight in an airplane (DC-6) We went to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and just about every noteworthy thing to see and do in the Big City.
What got me thinking again about all this is that I finally decided to put all the old family movie films on to a DVD. Not an easy thing to do if you are not familiar with that stuff. After a lot of experimenting and fooling around, I found that I was able to add titles and commentary to these old 8mm films. What fantastic memories.
Now here is the best part. When my son reached the same age, I was able to almost duplicate that exciting trip with him. He, in turn is now doing the same things with his son. He just took his kids on a road trip where they visited Lake City, where I had gone on a bike trip with him, and the Battleship Alabama, which we also visited when he was a kid. I hope it carries on.
My father was a factory worker who worked for the same company five and a half days a week for over 50 years. He was the shop foreman, so perhaps he earned a little more than the rest. But believe me, owning a car would have been a real luxury.
How he ever got to do all those things with me by trolley cars and subways is a mystery to me. Not everything was near a “trolley stop” so there was plenty of walking involved and a lot of talking as well.
These were times that he would regale me with stories from “the old country,” when he saw his first automobile, the excitement of their first radio and other fantastic stories from a man born in 1888. Was I ever lucky to have a walking history book with me all the time!
When my papa was nearing his final days, I remember going up to visit him in Boston, as I already was a Floridian. While there, I did as much as I could to make his life as comfortable as possible. Believe it or not, he asked me why I was going out of my way so much for him. That is when I took the opportunity to thank him for all the things that I took for granted all those years.
By the way, while we were doing all these things, my dear mother was scrubbing floors and clothes, and preparing fantastic meals for us once we got home. We never heard of “cleaning ladies” or nannies. There was no such thing as owning a washing machine or dishwasher, I never got to appreciate her until I joined the army and had to wash my own clothes and make my own bed. Something else I took for granted for too many years.
My message to all of you is take the opportunity now to thank your parents for all the work that they did to get you where you are today. It wasn’t easy for them and it won’t be easy for you.