aTribute to Dad
August 15, 1932-January 16, 2012
From Cheryll Anne:
My father was a wonderful man. He was a father, husband, brother, grandfather, uncle and friend to many people. I always admired my father and had a great deal of respect for him. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a joy of life that was contagious.
When I was about 8, During one of the hottest days of the summer, he decided to defrost the freezer. He scraped all the ice into a pile and made snowballs, then waited for all the neighborhood kids to be playing outside. Suddenly snowballs came flying out of nowhere, and all the kids were just blown away, whooping and hollering at the “snow miracle in August”. Dad was standing at the back door laughing so hard he almost fell over.
He was a hardworking man who taught me a lot. One of the first “work” experiences I remember was Bullet making in his workshop, which was a family affair. My sister Lauri and I were given the job of cleaning bullet casings, and Ann got to push down the loader. Lauri and I had the job of rubbing the grease off the casings, and I remember Dad saying “put some elbow grease into it”!! We didn’t always enjoy it, but looking back I am happy for the experience.
This also applies to me playing the accordion…I didn’t really want to play it, but he told me it was “a band in a box” so I should play it. He insisted I practice every day and often times would stand behind me while I was practicing and sing….his favorite songs being Moon River, and Some Enchanted Evening.
At the time I didn’t like it, but I ended up becoming a very good musician, and even played in international competitions. Dad also passed along his love of marching band music to me, and 17 years ago I learned how to play the baritone horn and started marching with the Westchester Brassmen, which I am still doing today.
I learned a lot of things from Dad. My sisters and I have coined some of these things as “Bob-isms” and we all will remember his voice saying things like:
- If you want something done right you have to do it yourself
- Measure twice cut once
- Everything has its place so make sure you put it back where you got it from –
He loved the outdoors and some of his favorite activities were hunting, boating and especially fishing.
He was very outgoing and at times was quite the storyteller and joke teller. Because of his outgoing nature he had a lot of friends and he enjoyed spending time with his hunting buddies.
He was a very generous man and always willing to help. He was able to build almost anything out of wood. When my sister Lauri was little, she wanted horse stable for her toy horses for Christmas, but things like this were not sold in stores at that time, so he made her a beautiful custom horse stable complete with a red roof and tiny stall doors on miniature hinges.
Dad was very wise and was able to fix anything. Even if he didn’t have the right things to fix something, he would use whatever he had and rig up something. My sisters and I call these kinds of fixings “Bob-Jobs”. This is one very useful skill our father has passed along, as even my own daughters have learned how to do a “Bob-job” when necessary.
I guess this is why he saved every piece of wood he ever had. I remember asking him about why he was saving all these little pieces of wood that looked useless, and he replied “those are shims, and everybody will need a shim for something”. As usual he was right, as I have needed shims on many occasions, and I still have a little pile of shims in my apartment closet.
My father taught me a lot about hard work, love for friends and family, appreciation for the outdoors and respect for others. My sisters and I will all cherish his precious legacy of love and laughter and will miss him more than words can say, and all that knew him will never forget him.
a“If you play in the manure, you won’t come out smelling like roses.”
“If you want to lose weight, use your arms: push yourself away from the table.”
Just two of my favorite “Bobisms”. The former I use to this day, as it is excellent advice for my high school students. The latter helps me when I am trying to curtail my appetite. I have so many memories of this far from mediocre man, with his crooked grin and devilish sense of humor. I loved him fiercely. At the worst of my teenage years, I also feared him fiercely. He had this mysterious way of always finding out if I was up to something. Uncanny, how he always knew that I was!
But Daddy was much more than astute; he had a wonderful sense of humor and a joy of life that was contagious. I remember him defrosting the freezer during one of the hottest days of the summer. He scraped all the ice into a pile and made snowballs, then waited for all the neighborhood kids to be playing outside. Suddenly snowballs came flying out of nowhere, and all the kids were just blown away, whooping and hollering at the “miracle in August”. Daddy was standing at the back door laughing so hard he almost fell over. Another funny thing was what he did whenever he was “compelled” to attend a church service. I was too young to be a witness to this, but a very reliable source said he always offered to hold the youngest of us, just so he could give a little pinch to generate some noise. Of course then he would take the baby out so as to not disturb anyone else….
This was a man who made sure all of his daughters learned to love the outdoors as much as he did. This was a man who stayed up for nights at a time hand-crafting me a stable for my glass horses, complete with red roof and tiny stall doors on miniature hinges. He did this because no one sold them in stores; it was on my Christmas list and he didn’t want me disappointed. This was a man who, when I had mononucleosis as a teen, came every single day on his lunch hour for months to fix me lunch; I still cannot open a can of tomato soup without those memories rushing back.
Yet like any child and parent, we had our share of bumping heads over the years. As a teen I was a reckless rebel who drove him nuts. I also gave him a hard time about his outdoor activities. Everyone knows I was never an advocate of hunting and fishing. Yet when I came to NY for Cheryll and Terri’s wedding, he shared with me that he had hunted for the last time. He said he had had a beautiful deer in his scope and so close, but when he went to pull the trigger he couldn’t, because looking into those deep brown eyes, he saw such beauty he found himself unable to shoot. With that statement, a world of hurts was healed between us.
When my son Jeff was born on Dad’s birthday, 13 weeks premature, I called him in tears. “Keep a good thought honey, that baby is going to be ok.” He was adamantly positive. And he was absolutely right. “Jeffy Bob” , now 27, is so much like him, so full of integrity and passion. And they were always close, even at 3000 miles away. What a gift, to see their joy in each other.
I will always deeply regret losing the time with him that I did by moving to California. But I will cherish the precious legacy of love and laughter and wisdom that he gave to each and every one of us. No time or distance can ever take that away.
I love you Daddy.
From Ann Michelle, daughter #3:
Dad loved many things. Butter pecan ice cream. Manhattans stirred with Rye whiskey, sweet and dry vermouth, and garnished with a maraschino cherry. He loved his dogs Tuppence and boomer, and even a cat named Bunny, who would let him catch and tug her tongue. That always made him laugh.
He served his country in the Army during the Korean War in Europe. He loved the outdoors and shared it as much as he could with us. I remember Long Island Sound in the SEA L-U-V (spelled that way because there was another boat already registered with the name Sea L-o-v-e). We learned how to fish, help wax and compound the boat, but none of us was asked to gut the fish. thank goodness.
He was a great story teller and joke teller. He was always ready and willing to hear a good joke. Corny jokes were his favorite, I think. For instance, does anyone remember,
A man goes to get something from the fridge. He finds a mouse in it. This mouse is lying there, looking relaxed. The man says, “What are you doing in my fridge?” The mouse says, “Excuse me, sir, but is this a Westinghouse?” The man, surprised, replies, “Well, yes, it is a Westinghouse.” The mouse smiles and says, “That’s good, because I’m Westing.”
Drum roll, please …
He loved to dance, sing, and he played the harmonica and whistled beautifully.
As Dad began to lose the battle with Alzheimer’s, I began thinking about all these things. One day, about two years ago we sat in the kitchen and he talked about his childhood. He said that his mother was the first female to be a line boss at the canning factory where she worked. He said his father would punish them if they didn’t clean their plates but that later mom snuck them something after he went to bed. I didn’t know it then, but that was the last time he talked like that with me and I am going to do my best to remember it for as long as I can. There were so many things Dad taught me and I will cherish them all.
“If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
if there is none, he made the best of this.”
– Robert Burns
Rest in peace, Daddy, I love you.