Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father 2018

This is a post I repeat almost every Father's Day, with some edits.

It is July of 1914.  The world is on the brink of World War I, going through a series of crises, but no one knows how close to war the world is yet.  My father is too young to know.  He certainly doesn't know that the life expectancy for a male born in 1914 is only 52 years.  Or that the leading causes of death in 1914 included tuberculosis, influenza, and diarrhea.  Or that his one daughter would use something called the "Internet" one day to blog, and to pay tribute to him.

My father was born and grew up in Brooklyn, in a neighborhood called Brownsville.  My grandfather owned a candy store, which he ran with the help of his wife, my grandmother, and their six children.

In the 1930's, my father's mother died, from complications of high blood pressure, an illness so easily treated today.  My father ended up quitting high school after two years.

He doesn't have too much of an Internet presence, my father, but there are a couple of things I can find.  I looked at his record in the 1940 census, still living at home with his father and several siblings.  1942, his enlistment record in the United States Army, where his term of enlistment was for the duration of World War II "plus six months", show him as "single with dependents". I suspect one of the dependents was his younger brother, the only sibling still alive today.  He and two of his sisters helped to raise my uncle after my grandmother died.

The military experience shaped his life.  For the first time, he was out of Brooklyn. He saw the South.  He saw India.  He would sometimes tell me stories about his time in India as bedtime stories.

My father didn't make it to the end of the war.  He suffered a head injury and was flown back to the States.  He was given an honorable discharge but suffered the aftereffects of that injury for the rest of his life.

After the war, my father married.  Today, in fact, would have been their wedding anniversary.

 When I was 12, my mother died, and my father raised me to adulthood as a single father in his Bronx apartment in a city housing project.

When his last sister died, in the mid 2000's, the funeral procession didn't go directly to the cemetery.  It wound through Brooklyn, going through some neighborhoods before it got on the highway. I wondered where we were going and why.  It didn't occur to me at the time that we were going near to where where she, and my father, had grown up (which is now in a slum). One final tribute.  My father had died almost twenty years before.  I found that out afterwards.

I owe a lot to my father and the simple, everyday lessons he taught me.  He did what he could the best he knew how. He ended his life in Brooklyn, in the same facility where his own father spent his last days.

My love of history, which love I share with my late father, got me to thinking how much our world has changed in the 104 years since my father was born.

And, how much the world has stayed the same.

Happy Father's Day, wherever you are, Dad.


  1. Beautiful tribute to your father!

  2. Awwww Okay, I wasn't expecting tears... but HAPPY DAD'S DAY to your daddy that's for sure & I'm sure now he is your guardian angel for always!

  3. Love stories like these.
    Bless it be
    Coffee is on

  4. Alana,

    Excellent tribute to your dad! It was interesting to read that you lost your mother early on, as did your dad. That was really hard on your dad and granddad no doubt to raise the children in those times. It's amazing how the life expectancy was a lot shorter in your dad's life than ours. I remember seeing old movies say with Humphrey Bogart and he always looked old but in actually he wasn't nearly as old as I thought, like in Casablanca. He was only 43 when he made that film but he easily looked like he was in his mid-to-late 50s. I wonder if it was premature aging from smoking? This is the first Father's Day for DH to not be able to call his dad. He passed in March, as you may remember. Yesterday was a bit hard on him. I'm blessed that my daddy (80-yrs.old) is still with me. He has some serious health issues but has managed to live longer than his other brothers and sister. He does have one living brother. I think he's younger than him, though. I enjoyed reading your tribute and I'm sure if he were alive that your dad would like it, too. Thanks for sharing!


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