It’s my parents birthday today. I’m saying “Happy birthday!” here because eventually they will read this.
We had a surprise birthday for my dad on Friday. It was actually a party for both my parents but the surprise part was for my Dad only. It’s his 60th today.
The party was a blast. Jackie made up a game called, “Which is Older Bob or…” in which a list of inventions / items had to be declared either younger or older than my dad. Atomic bombs are not as old as my Dad, but microwave ovens are older.
Gary gave a speech based on two letters he wrote to my Dad. One when he was four and one now. They were both nice.
I also spoke. I sure had the crowd laughing. Here are a few of the things I talked about:
My Dad’s Ford Truck Â– It was orange so that deaf people could enjoy it too.
The Video Camera – It was the most expensive home video ever – he only used the camera the one time.
My Dad and our trampoline Â–- He taught me how to do front flips, back flips, etc. One time I flipped off onto the ground and landed on my back; he didn’t teach me that.
Motorcycles – HeÂ– bought my brother and me a new Honda 50 CC motorcycle to share. Then over the years he bought my brother new motorcycles and I got hand-me-downs. We had a great time.
Snakes – Sometimes (usually on trips out to motorcycle) we would come across rattlesnakes on the road. One of our friends was acting particularly scared of it, so we had him hold out a long stick towards the snake and then my dad tossed a tiny pebble toward the snake startling it and launching our friend into space.
New York Â–- I had a unique experience from either of my siblings when I had the chance to spend a week alone on vacation with my dad in New York. It was late by the time we arrived at our hotel and we were pretty nervous going into the big city at night. As we walked out of our hotel the first thing we saw was a cross dressing guy come out of the gay bar next to our hotel. It was totally beyond anything we have ever conceived. I think my dad went into full culture shock at that point, but nevertheless we decided to brave the streets anyway and if fate had it that we were going to die, so be it. We had turned left 3 times and were still not dead so I asked him if he wanted to take one more left and go back to the hotel to get his barings straight. Well he was convinced that we were dead meat. He was counting on me to get us around and here weÂ’d only been out for a few minutes and he was convinced that I already had completely lost my direction.
Chess Â–- My dad taught me how to play chess. He almost always beat me Â– it made me really frustrated. Then I beat him a couple of times and after that he hasnÂ’t been in the mood to play.
Violin -Â– My dad loves to play the violin. I remember him playing and playing and playing. I didn’t love it, but he got to be really good at playing it.
Piano Â–- He learned how to chord on the piano (I think I taught him the basics actually), then he commenced playing and playing and playing.
Wrestling – We used to wrestle in the living room. The piano became more of an obstacle than an irritation.
Piggyback rides and the Alligator pit – My dad would give us piggy back rides up and down the hallways, then just peak our heads over the railing of the stairs with the threat of being thrown down the alligator pit. I was terrified. He thought it was a good trick.
Boxing Â–- My dad used to be a boxer. He was well known around town and well known in Raymond as a fighter.
Brigham Young University Â–- My dad went to university at BYU. I asked him if he ever saw a fight at BYU. He said he only saw two fights while he was there. He was in both of them.
Wasp story BYU -Â– Later on in life he returned to visit BYU on one of our family vacations to Utah. We decided that my dad, my brother Gary, and I would climb up the mountain to see the Y. Well on the way up my dad stepped on a yellow jackets nest. They didnÂ’t seem to realize who it was that stepped on their nest and one of them stung me on my right wrist, while the other one stung me on my left wrist. I had the chubbiest hands as they both swelled up to size of the hands of the local fat kid on my block (Fat Scotty).
Bricklaying -Â– Before I was old enough to start school, my dad would occasionally take me to work with him. I remember the fun time I was having when he bought me a Fanta Orange pop. I was a little bothered when I discovered that some wasps had flown into my pop when I wasnÂ’t watching. I was DEVASTATED. So my dad helped me create a wasp catching trap using two bricks, a string, and what was left of my pop as bait. When he got down to the last bricks and I still hadnÂ’t squished a single bee I was disappointed to see my trusty wasp trap turned into a house.
Jumping – My dad always had a great ability to jump and would jump over fences even when he got older. I am not sure heÂ’s still jumping fencing but IÂ’ve been doing my own jumping of fences these last couple years. Last summer while teaching a movie making camp at the University, some of my students wanted to see me jump over the fence. I had done it before so I thought why not. Well the reason why not was that I wasnÂ’t at all warmed up and caught my feet about 6 inches below the top of the fence. Head over heals I went crashing down to the other side. Luckily nothing was injured but my pride. Later I asked my dad how he always made sure not to trip over the fences he jumped. Â“He replied, “Oh I’Â’ve tripped on more fences that I care to recall.Â””
Basketball Â–- My dad was very well known for his jumping ability and for his boxing, but he was most well known for being a really great basketball player. It seems that anytime I ever meet someone from Raymond they invariably ask who IÂ’m related to. They all seem to know my dad. When I went on a trip to Israel I met Jack Higgins from Raymond, he recalled, Â“I remember your dad; especially when he used to play basketball.Â” I never made it very far in my basketball career here in Medicine Hat. One day I asked my dad if he ever went to Provincials for anything. I had known that he coached a Volleyball team that actually won the provincials but it turns out he also went there for High School basketball. As the seconds on the clock ran down there was a long baseball style pass to my dad and he shot a high lay-up that floating up through the air while the buzzer rang and then dropped in to tip the score in RaymondÂ’s favour giving them the provincial title in triple overtime. Hardly anybody knows about this about my dad though because the Lethbridge Herald got the story mixed up and put in somebody elseÂ’s name as the shooter of the winning shot.
Israel Â–- My dad visited Israel a few years before the first Gulf War. Apparently there was fighting in the streets while he was there and a rebel throwing rocks and recognizing him as a tourist told him to get lost. My dad told him he could come across the street and make him. I guess even with rock in hand the guy didn’t want to test my dad.
Igloos -Â– Dad loved to build and as a kid he always dreamed of making an Igloo. There was never enough snow for him to do it, but one year when I was in about the 4th grade it snowed so deeply that school was cancelled and so he took us out back to ski. Well that was fun going down but it got kind old climbing up the hill every time so we returned to the house and discovered that Dad had started to build an Igloo. Yes a really snow carved into blocks Igloo. It was really cool and he really liked it. He didnÂ’t appreciate it when I considered that Igloo to be mine and started to punch holes in its walls just for the fun of it.
Wood Carving Â–- So after he had taken up the hobbies of the violin, the banjo, the mandolin, the piano, and possibly many more musical instruments that I canÂ’t think of at the moment. One hobby that nobody ever expected him to pick up was that of wood carving. He started while on a trip with his brother Dennis and Alan Loose (among others). Anyway something clicked and my mom has been finding saw dust around the house ever since.
Experimental cooking -Â– My mom made most of the lunches I ate in junior high. Though I remember one time, for a few weeks in a row, that my dad was in charge of making our lunches. I complained about the combination of cranberries and ketchup on my roast beef sandwich. He was famous Â– in our house anyway Â– for experimental cooking. The worst offence was when we were out of some of the ingredients. So for lunch I opened up my brown paper bag to discover a jam, relish, and roast beef sandwich. I didnÂ’t dare complain because IÂ’d been told that if I didnÂ’t like the lunches he was making I could either make my own or go without. My mom however complained. He confessed that he couldnÂ’t stomach the one he made for himself either and knew that he was going to hear about it when he got home.
Til my next update, “Big toe little toe, that’s all I know”.