Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Fathers' Day! And quit your bellyaching, for crying out loud!

My dad was Walter James Rice. His mom had wanted to name him Finbarr. Luckily in those days mother's didn't go to the christening, and so his two step-sisters took him & named him Walter. His bro didn't fare quite so well with the middle name of Aloysius.

My father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1973. He had chronic heartburn & spent the night thinking that he was having a really bad case of it. He wasn't. Saying this was a shock is an understatement! He owned the only tool & die shop in Middletown. He was 53 & is buried in St. Columba's.

He was born in Worcester from an Irish railroading family. A childhood illness & a lousy doctor left him deaf in one ear. This rendered him 4F for WWII but also enabled him to be the first in his family to attend college on a scholarship - Worcester State Teachers' College. He kept trying to enter the service, but always failed the physical. Even though he knew this was inevitable, he tried every branch, inc. the merchant marine.

He didn't teach for long (no money in it). He worked for the R.R. until it basically died, then managed a small steel co. in Sparrows Pt., Md. next to Bethlehem Steel. When my uncle died, he came up here to manage his tool & die shop & bought it. He was an Industrial Engineer, before an entire career was outsourced.

What I learned from my Dad:

How to float, keep your ice cream cone from dripping, the names of local trees & flowers, and how to scratch yourself on the rough bark of a tree when you get mosquito bites. I learned how to grow gladiolas & no matter how matter varieties & colors that you grow, they all eventually end up the same color unless you buy new bulbs.

A glass of beer periodically is a good thing, along with telling jokes & singing songs. I learned the meaning of "Erin Go Bragh," that wearing orange on St. Pat's day was an insult (and justifiably punishable with a good beating), & I'm still wondering who put those foolish trousers in Mrs. Murphy's Chower.

I learned how to appreciate classical music and opera and how to wink. Operating electonics is fun & inputs & outputs aren't all that complicated. You should peel your skin when you get a sunburn. Learning to snap your fingers takes practice - a little spit can be helpful.

I learned how to change a tire, clean & gap spark plugs, & jump an engine. I also know how to remove an air filter, & open a stuck butterfly valve with a screwdriver while standing a respectable distance away as there could be a rather surprising & sudden start-up (ka-pow!).

I learned how to play baseball, shoot hoops, love the Red Sox (even when they ALWAYS broke your heart), and how sleeping while watching sports on t.v. is good. But even better is going to sporting events.

For crying out loud, when you're playing the outfield, quit foolin' around & pay attention! He'd played semi-pro ball & could hit a baseball to every player in the field during practice. He'd point his bat at you ("Heads up!") & could hit the ball low, high, or right at you. I've never seen anyone else who could do this.

Standing up for yourself is important even if it means socking someone in the stomach. No one has the right to insult you because you're Irish or Catholic (or anything else).

Work is good. Sleeping late isn't. Family is important as are friends. Give them a hand without questioning if they ever need it. And if anyone ever gives you a backstab, be creative & smart making sure they never do it to you or anyone else ever again.

Try to avoid courts & lawyers. But if you can't, fight until the end & hire a shark!

Fast cars are good! Birthday cakes can also be lemon meringue pies or whatever strikes your fancy. Find something to do! It's not my job to entertain you.

Sports are fun & teaching kids to play them is even more fun. Spitting watermelon takes practice. Whistling also takes practice & you can whittle your own whistle with a jacknife. Armpit farts are hilarious, but you need a little sweat there first.

If you break a neighbor's windows with a baseball or bb shot, ain't no big deal. Just be careful! Do you know how to think? Don't give me any of that backtalk!

Kids matter. Stand-up for them even if it means going to magistrate's courts because a neighbor doesn't like them playing ball in the street. A neat back yard is good, but a baseball diamond is better. Play fair.

Dinner just isn't complete without dessert. Money isn't everything, but it helps. Give the stock market a whirl & start a savings account. Have life insurance. Buy a house & try to pay your mortgage down early. When you have a business, keep your workers going, even if this means reaching into your own savings until owers pay their bills.

Going barefoot is good. Don't bellyache or whine, for cryin' out loud. A Worcester accent is quite different from my mom's Prov. accent. Who knew? Go to Church on Sun. It's okay to sleep through a sermon, but don't snore. And No talking! Don't forget to make a donation.

Scouting is a good thing. Have a hobby & switch them around. Oil painting is hard & takes practice. Learning is never-ending. Volunteer to help others without being asked.

Unions are good (but not perfect) and Democrats are even better. We're all the same. We want a comfortable home, good food including ice cream, a job that pays decently, and better lives for our kids that we are willing to sacrifice for. We want our parents to be safe, happy, & have what they need to enjoy their life.

Teachers aren't always right & math is easy (personally, I never got this one & figured that God gave me those 10 fingers for a darn-good reason).

My Dad was always right & looking out for me. Doggone, he was the smartest man I've ever known & I NEVER caught him on a mistake. Learning about & seeing history is fun. Vacations are family affairs, necessary, & full of laughs. Take them.

He taught me to play poker for pennies (or paper clips), but I could never keep what beat what straight unless he wrote it down.

Quit fighting with you brother. And if he EVER touches you, tell me. He'll never do it again!

Girls are every bit as good boys and there is no such thing as "appropriate work" for either. Share with your brother & sister & watch out for them. Read. Endlessly. Making movies with 8 mm & Super 8 takes practice but is well worthwhile. Running a projector & splicing are simple. Silent movies are hilarious (& free from the library)!

Developing film takes time, a dark space, & a red bulb. Be careful with chemicals. Miniature railroading is downright entertaining. Be careful when soldering & a grinding stone is quite useful. Tape recorders- no problem!

Respect your elders but sometimes they're full of baloney. Just because someone tells you that something is true, doesn't mean that it is. God gave you two ears for a reason- let it go in one & out the other. Eileen, you'd cut off your nose to spit your face.

Life is short with no guarantees, so enjoy it every chance that you get! Do it yourself. Have you got two broken arms?

Archery is a good sport & golf doesn't make a whole lot of sense (but a good club collection is worthwhile). Kind of like fishing. A lot of nothing for a few seconds of thrills.

Don't use bad language. Gasoline powered mowers are better than push. Don't ever raise your own turkey because you'll never be able to kill it for Thanksgiving.

Practical jokes are great fun and short-sheeting a bed is easy. If someone is deaf, learn what they're weak side is so that you're not ignored with a blank stare when you ask a question. Conventiently-deaf goes along with being actually deaf. Learn to tell the difference.

Dads almost always say yes. Don't EVER make them mad! Stay away if they are mad.

You don't have to tell your mother everything. Just agree with her & do what you want if you think it's right.

Don't smoke (he did)! Don't always believe Doctors (he died a month after a major physical at the Mayo clinic). Be nice to those who work for you. Without them, you don't have a job yourself. Not a bit of difference between management & labor. We're all just trying to earn a living. So be fair & generous! Give labor a voice & a chance to make decisions. Give a guy a break. You're not so perfect yourself.

So everybody doesn't like you. Who cares? Get over it. Don't be afraid to take a chance. Hey, it might work.

Don't back-talk your mother & do what she tells you the FIRST TIME.

Learning to drive a stick-shift is hard. Shouting usually doesn't do any good, but patience does.

Liver doesn't taste that good and you don't have to eat it. Manure is good for the grass but really stinks!!! If you're a guy, keep your hair cut!

You can't always win, so what? Quit your crying & wipe that puss off your face. Try your best. So what if everyone is watching you? What do you care what people think? You don't have to be perfect.

Riding a bike takes lots of practice. When you fall off, get back on. Buy ice skates larger than you need, wear thick socks, & you'll grow into them (this was lousy advice - my feet never grew bigger).

The most important thing in a car accident, is not the car, it's You & other people. A car can be fixed. That's why you have insurance. You didn't mean to do it. That's why it's called an accident. Always remember to turn your head around when you are backing up & go slow!

Enjoy a good boxing match. Wrestling is fun to watch on t.v. or live, but it's all fake. Live baseball & football are the best! Have a glass of beer once-in-awhile. Laugh!

Use PLENTY of lighter fluid on that charcoal. But remember to stand back.

You don't have to take that kind of crap! Speak up for yourself & your brother & sister. What's the worse they can do to you? Who do they think that they are? Who do you think you are? TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN! Did you hear what I said? Quiet down in there, I'm trying to read the newspaper!

Speak up for yourself! Be generous. Quit being a crybaby. Who cares if they don't like you? Tell them you don't like them either. Tell the truth but the occassional fib doesn't hurt.

If somebody asks you, go out with them once. You don't have to go out with them again & you don't have to marry them. There are plenty of fish in the sea! College should be fun. And yes, you are going. You need to be able to earn a living for yourself.

Teaching is a great profession for a woman & mother. You get the summers off!

Get to bed - now! Are you deaf?

You kids are lucky.

Darn right. I'm still laughing! I'm still here (and so are my Mom, my bro, & sis)! And I'm still a Democrat! My first rally was a whistle stop for Adlai Stevenson sitting on my Dad's shoulders.

Oh, and when the train whistles, get off of that track! Are you stupid? Haven't you got any common sense?

Happy Fathers' Dad to all the Dads out there! And quit your whining!

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