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By any definition, my dad was a complicated individual. A depression-era upbringing certainly molded him into the man he became. He was the eldest son of an alcoholic father. His mother, instilled in him the belief he could do whatever he chose, and he did. He was a brilliant deep thinker with a high school education. He was an extremely effective written-word communicator, who struggled with stammering throughout his life.
With holes in both of his eardrums, he couldn’t pass the physical to go to war. Instead he became part of the war effort as a Journeyman 6G certified welder, considered to be the ‘Gold-Standard’ of welding. He used those skills to build a structure on the original location at 26th Ave and Charlotte Pike; he later took it down and moved it to Gallatin Road, only to finally take it down again and relocate it to our current location. The boiler pipe that our greenhouse is constructed from is over 100 years old, now in its fourth, and final use.
Dad would often say to us, “You can have a lot of buddies in your life, but you can only have one dad”. His compliments were of the restrained variety, “If that’s the best you can do”, was his display of acceptance. He firmly embraced the axiom of ‘sparing the rod and spoiling the child’; we were never spoiled. Despite his ‘drill-sergeant’ approach to parenting, there was a method to his madness. There was a purpose to what he preached.
He could not know the exact nature of what difficulties that lay ahead in life; but he knew they would come, and they have. I am convinced I would never have been able to muster the necessary ‘grit’ to overcome many of the obstacles life has presented without his guidance over my formative years. Tough was the only kind of love he understood, but Dad most certainly loved us.