My Dad was a very complex individual. He certainly had courage, but he had his unresolved fears, as well. He had amazing will power, but not in all areas of his weaknesses. Guess that’s why they’re weaknesses.
My Dad did a stint ‘working on the railroad’ back in the forties and fifties. He was still living in Connecticut, and his father (the former Marine sharpshooter) was a Lieutenant in the NY,NH & H Railroad Police (The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad). This was long before AMTRAK.
I’m certain, at least in part, my father obtained the RR police job through nepotism. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t qualified, but getting a railroad job was exceedingly difficult.
One late night, he was on a platform awaiting another train’s arrival. The platform was basically empty. Suddenly, two drunken sailors appeared and approached my dad. And proceeded to beat the living crap out of him.
As he told the story (being a macho former college football lineman) he tried to defend himself as best he could. Have you ever been in a physical confrontation? Against multiple assailants? It can’t be easy, given just one can be problematic. And these two guys were fit Navy guys.
Ultimately, he found himself down on his hands-and-knees, covering his face and eyes with his hands, and his ribs with his arms, while being kicked by two men. At least one had brought him into that position by kicking him in the crotch.
And there he was, awaiting death. And appealing to God to give him the strength to survive.
Suddenly, there was a break in the pain and nausea, and he lunged sideways, tackling one of his assailants. After banging his head on the platform (I assume multiple times), he faced the second sailor. He threw him off the platform and down onto an empty track.
Then he somehow made his way to a railroad room where he could lock himself away. There was no such thing as instant communication and backup in those days.
After returning to work, he found out two sailors had reported having been assaulted on the platform. One with a concussion, the other a broken back! No one connected my father to the injuries. Or at least tried to make the connection.
A couple years later, I was born.
Fast-forward about 20 years after that, my Dad was officiating a Pop Warner football game. And one of those events that seems to be more common these days occurred. Some kiddie-footballer’s dad took offense to a call and began physically attacking the officials! And a melee ensued. Fans and officials fighting all over the field! A buddy of my father’s, another official, was being choked by one of the irate fan fathers.
And, here comes my Dad, 20+ years after the sailor fight. He was able to pull the attacker off his friend, and then was blindsided by a second idiot, having his eyeglasses broken for the effort. He was obviously much older and overweight. The end result was three crowd members were arrested, fortunately, no officials. And no serious injuries.
My dad’s friend presented him with a trophy, a football in a kicking tee with a plaque reading COURAGE.
He certainly had that. And he left us way too young.
He died six years before Molly was born. He would have revelled in her.
I no longer have my Dad, nor my daughter. I still have the trophy, somewhere.