I’ve always loved Halloween.
From my own childhood as a pirate, or a hobo; a cowboy or a secret agent…it meant getting to be out of the house at night, after dark, extorting goodies from neighbors and even houses far away. Homemade popcorn balls, cookies and caramel apples sometimes weighed down the trick-or-treat bags of commercial candy though. (As if this were a problem!)
It was ‘safe’, in the 50s and 60s.
Then, not long after my Man-From-Uncle/James Bond excursion into the night air, I was too old. :-(
I didn’t go out trick-or-treating again for many years, when I accompanied my daughter Molly. I remember a number of years of fairy princesses followed by ballerinas – Molly had started taking dance lessons.
Guffaw’s Rule of Weather (in Phoenix) – It never really ‘cools off’ until Halloween. People have short memories from the previous years, and think when it reaches October it means cooler weather. Not necessarily so.
I remember one Halloween escorting young Molly door-to-door, resplendent in her costume, covered by my insulated Ike jacket. It was something like 45 degrees, breezy and humid. The drill was I was to wait on the sidewalk and remove the jacket while she raced all sparkley to the next front door, rang the bell, got candy, then raced back to the jacket I warmed up until her next house! Next house after next house… GEEZ, it was cold!
Then, she had gotten old enough she no longer wanted an escort, and good enough with her Mom’s sewing machine to make her own costume – Jean Grey from X-Men. Did her own makeup, too! She and her best friend had been making a killing buying, trading and selling X-Men comics at school.
My daughter – the 6th Grade capitalist entrepreneur!
She would have probably had another year before she was too old, but Jean Grey was to be her last.
You made a terrific Jean Grey - Happy Halloween, Molly!
Remember to hug those close to you and tell them you love them, because you never know.
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.
The lovely Tamara had a recent post regarding personal vehicles, with political stickers there-a-fixed. The consensus among correct-thinking-folks is to maintain a low profile. No longer is a pro-gun, gun rights or even a libertarian rear plaque or bumper sticker deemed appropriate.
At the very least it’s considered non-tacticool. Don’t want to alert potential auto-burglars of the Glock possibly stuffed under the seat in our absence! (One of the Bob’s had one stolen outside a coffee shop in broad daylight!)
In my callow youth, I owned a number of nondescript cars, mostly with libertarian bumper stickers attached. Never had a problem. One did read ‘Question Authority‘. Never had a problem during traffic stops for not current registration.
But, as the 90s appeared, and political clouds foretold of personal liberties being trashed (the Clinton Assault Weapon Ban, for example), I opted to be less visible. Not concerned with the bad guys (criminals) as much as the bad guys (government). And I attached fewer stickers.
After the accident, I acquired my dream vehicle – a 1989 Isuzu Trooper. Molly and I had been looking at them, as the ‘gee, perhaps one day’ car to take us to the desert to shoot. She never got to see her, but she paid for her.
She was christened Molly’s Trolley with a dash placard. And once my time payment Life Membership to the NRA was paid off, I affixed an appropriate sticker on the driver’s wing window. Remember those – wing windows?
But no other defilement was allowed. Low profile, in a silver 4×4 with a cammie spare tire cover. Yeah right. And many trips were made to the desert, and to friends in New River. And other places.
My youthful dreams of joking magnetic door signs reading ‘ANFO Distributing‘ never happened. And I never even considered the ubiquitous gun show sale bumper sticker, ‘Vote From The Rooftops‘.
I did see (once, during the Nixon years) a sticker on another car reading, ‘Where is Lee Harvey Oswald When You Need Him?‘
I don’t think that would fly, today. No one remembers who he was.
h/t Siddhartha, Tam
(redacted specifics re: the crap in my life and the lives of everyone I know)
I decided rather than wallow, to take a page from my dear friend Rev. Paul and lighten up. All is not lost. I still have friends and family who love me. The Nation, while thought to be circling the drain in some circles, is still here. As is her Constitution.
I know and believe this as fact: All you can do is what you can do. Fretting about the past or the future is pointless - be in the now. And hold those you love close and tell them you love them, because you never know! Do it now!
How can you look into that face above and not smile?
(I’ve chosen to make commentary unavailable on this post – go and hold your loved ones, instead!)
Today, my daughter is 30. The same age I was when she was born.
By age 30, I was married, beginning my own PI business, and scared to death about the prospect of fatherhood. Then she arrived and made it easy
Here it is 30 years hence, and by all-that-is-holy she should have been married, and had children. She aspired to be a veterinarian. I never had the privilege of walking her down the aisle or holding a grandbaby. Or proudly watching her get her degree. Or even her diploma.
She was taken from us in 1985. In a stupid car accident.
So she’ll always be age 12 in my heart. Or just born.
Happy Birthday, Molly! I Love You.
First of all, my apologies in advance of you reading this post. I’ve a tendency to get a little maudlin this time of year. Missing friends; family…
My roommate (and place-to-live benefactor) and I are very close. We’re good friends – truth be told, we used to date. So we know much about each other including backstory, family history, skeletons. Stuff from our past(s).
And we were fortunate enough to visit the last gun show together. A couple of blog friends were kind enough to give me the financial means. (Thanks, again, we couldn’t have done it without you!)
But there are land mines in the psyche. Stuff I’ve forgotten about and don’t expect. Buried deep. You see, I used to take my daughter to the gun shows. We used to visit antique malls, as well, and sometimes little antique-y things are displayed at gun shows. There were a few at this one.
When my daughter was small, and she’d see a cameo, she’d remark, “There’s that lady, again.” Hearing that always brought a smile to my face.
And, of course, I shared her expression long ago with my roommate. Part of the tales from the past people getting to know one-another pass along. And I always hear Molly’s voice in my head when I see that kind of jewelry.
So, here we are at the gun show, taking it all in, and up comes an antique jewelry display. Not exactly why I visit guns shows. So, I’m getting ready to gloss over it, when my roommate says softly, reverently,
There’s that lady, again.
I recently had a conversation with a friend which sparked a bittersweet memory.
One of the things many of us miss as adults is the wonder, the surprise, the simple serendipity of joy. In childhood we experience it often, probably because most things and experiences are new to us, and we’ve yet to become jaded.
One of my favorite memories of my daughter Molly was when I gave her a gift. She was turning twelve, and I knew just as the Sun rose in the morning that soon she would be developing into a teenager, full of doubt and promise. One who no longer trusted her parents to be all-knowing and truthful. Because, of course, we weren’t and could never be.
But here we were, proud father giving his daughter a present. She opened it, her eyes widened, and there was that sudden exhalation of breath. Excitement, happiness, joy. Innocence and appreciation in one second, one breath. Followed by the big hug.
I don’t even remember what I had given her. But what she gave me was so much more. An everlasting memory of a happy young woman, unspoiled by the adolescent hormones of parental treachery. Not yet jump-started into that distrust generated simply by being parents and adults.
Zen masters tell us to be in the now. Live life as if each moment was your last. This is what Molly showed me that day.
I’ve had many difficult times of year. The holidays and my birthday comprise one such time. Not because of those specific events, but rather because of who’s not there.
But, I’ve already received my present this year. As I get every year – when I remember it.
Live in the now, with joy, and never be disappointed.
Thank you, Molly.
So, it’s time for another Molly story.
After her mother and I separated, I was fortunate to have Molly every other week. This meant planning the day around her, including taking her to a before grade-school ‘day care’, which then ferried her to school. (I had to be to work @ 0600.) They then retrieved her after work.
Much of the time she’s fall back to sleep in the car, but, sometimes, especially in the warmer, Spring months she’d remain awake, checking out the neighborhood as we drove past. Kids don’t want to miss anything.
One morning she was looking out the passenger window down the block from our house, and there was some guy working on the shrubbery in front of his house. Squatting. Giving all-the-World the plumber’s eye view of, as Hawkeye Pierce put it, “The permanent vertical smile, lauded in song and story!”
Molly saw this, and was trying not to smile, as was I.
So I said, “Just say no to crack!” And we both busted up.
You just know she couldn’t wait to get to school to tell her friends.
Gun Nuts Media reminded me of today’s event.
Many boys get to go to the range, as part of family tradition or Scouts, but, sometimes girls are excluded, just because it’s assumed they have no interest.
And, we ALL know what happens when we assume.
So, take hold of your Saturday and get out there with your girl(s) and pop some caps!
It teaches patience, personal responsibility, skill and it’s FUN!
I was fortunate enough to take my daughter to ranges many years ago, and those experiences are many of my fondest memories. Go make some of your own. – Guffaw
h/t Caleb Giddings
MA-rooned tells the story of missing his daughter’s Girl Scout “Daddy Daughter Dance” because he was attending the NRA Convention in St. Louis.
And how he was able to get best-friend and daughter’s Godfather SCI-FI to stand in for him, and what a success that was for them all.
His story brought up some long-buried memories for me
I took the parent-mandated after-school dance lessons in the 8th Grade. I remember initially being fearful, but then getting into it, especially because weekly I got to have Tara Fuchs as my dance partner. I was in the 8th Grade, geeky, not too coordinated or talented, but I got to put my arms around a girl. At arm’s distance, at least!
Then, that next Summer, my hip disability developed. I missed my first semester of high school, and spent a year in a leg brace and on crutches. My right leg was now shorter than my left. Dancing was the farthest thing from my mind.
And my dance career was minimal after that. Occasionally, dancing with was appropriate, and I did so, best I was able. But hobbling around the dance floor wasn’t something I sought out.
Years passed, and I married, and we had a daughter. You’ve read of her in these pages. Ultimately, she was asked to a school dance, and the parents were invited to watch and chaperone. She was in the 6th Grade.
It was your basic guys on one wall, girls on another, trying not to look at each other. While the music played.
And my wife says, “Why don’t you go ask your daughter to dance?”, with a nice, unassuming smile.
So I did.
And she was new enough at dancing that we didn’t look too unmatched – save I was taller than she.
And she had a big smile on her face.
So, when Jay G wrote his story, it brought back memories and I could only smile. Okay, I cried a little.