Friday, October 14, 2011

What Dad Saw

Dad (Matthew Herrick) is in the swing;
older brother Billy is standing.
Last week, we remembered our Dad on what would have been his 92nd birthday. I marvel to think of the events that overlay his lifetime. From Charles Lindberg to the Space Shuttle; from silent films to computerized animation; from the Great Depression to ... uh ... another depression-ish ... thing?

Dad was 28 when Orville Wright died. He was 62 when he learned how to fly.

When he was a boy in Ohio, his family didn't have electricity. It would have cost too much to run the wire to their house, and Grandpa didn't have the money, so they used oil lamps. Dad wound up becoming an electrician, bringing light and power to homes and buildings.

Dad's family didn't have a bathtub either. He used to tell us how his folks would load the three boys in the car to visit family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dicks. There, Grandma would fill a tub and all the boys took their baths. Years later, Dad would tile the bath and install a shower in our home. (Kids, this was in the days when homes had only ONE bath. Can you imagine!) Later on he built a half-bath upstairs.

He spoke of how one schoolmate was teased for bringing bean sandwiches for lunch, but he didn't laugh because he and his brothers ate bean sandwiches too. How his folks would try to bring in extra money by sending him door-to-door with a wagonful of grapes from their arbor — he refused to eat grape jelly for the rest of his life!

How his dad, out of work, sold their Ohio home to Mr. Johnson, the local storekeeper, because Johnson was the only one with any money. Grandpa moved the family to Chicago since that's where his mother lived, in a large old house where she rented rooms.

Dad told us how his father continued to pound the pavement for work, at a time when the whole country was hurting. Desperate, Grandpa went to a police station and explained his plight to an officer. The officer asked if Grandpa had ever applied at a certain company.

"They're not hiring; I've been there a hundred times," Dad relates Grandpa as replying to the officer.
"Make it a hundred and one," said the officer cryptically.

Grandpa returned to the company, where a crowd of men all hoped to find work.
A call went out: "Is there a Charles Herrick here?"
And Grandpa went to work.