I have to tell you that tears welled up in my eyes a little as I remembered
the good times we had shared... that he had shared with me. I remembered going with him many times to repair people's
appliances at their homes and at Huston-Tillotson too, going to auctions to buy land and houses and moving them throughout
the entire process, chopping weeds on vacant lots with a wood-handled sling sickle and hand push mower and even myself
sitting on a nail once at a house he was repairing on Comal Street while he and my brother put up sheet rock. I recalled visiting
Mr. Claude Shackles at his car lot on Rosewood as they played checkers for hours, smelling the aroma of cherry pipe smoke
from being around Mr. Carnegie Mims as they also played checkers, watching him play with Mr. Ernest Mooney and going to Mr.
Tim's Barber Shop near 12th and Chicon. I remember meeting many of my dad's old friends from back-in-the-day,
most all of them already passed by now that I know of. Still they are alive inside of me.
My dad also instilled good values by showing me with his numerous
good deeds and fellowships. My dad didn't preach it... he lived it, helped people. He didn't brag about what
he did freely from his heart one iota. How many people have you met that can honestly say that?
I learned many things about business from just paying attention to the
way my dad conducted his... I remembered that first car (a 1971 Orange with White Vinyl Top Cuda) he bought me in 1972 from
McMorris Ford when I was about to be a Sophomore in College. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me because it was
certainly out-of-character because of the cost as well as the way he accomplished the purchase. Smoooooooth.
I will never forget his generosity toward me and suffice it
to say that when I became able I never let my dad buy another car, always providing him with whatever type of car or truck
he wanted. He could've had Cadillacs or Mercedes but he was happy in a used Ford, Chevrolet or Nissan. He
was generous to people and practical for himself... selfless.
My tears, the ones I was holding in were of happiness and not
so much sadness after my thoughts had come full-circle about WHO my dad was to me and the world. I didn't want him to see me crying on the OUTSIDE so I held it INSIDE of me. I didn't want to add to his pain
or anyone else's who was there.
The thing about emotions
is that IF everyone can hold it together, there will be peace but if just ONE person starts crying, it's hard to stop everyone
else's dam from breaking.
My dad was kind and generous to friends and strangers alike in all of
his dealings with them, repairing their radios and televisions as a second job to go along with his job as a mathematics professor
at Huston-Tillotson College. He also dabbled in land, building and buying houses to make rental income for an investment. He
was always renting houses below the fair market value to help people who could not afford to pay the going
rate... before there was an Austin Housing Authority to help. When I say THAT, just consider that the regular rent in
1972 (when I started collecting for him) might've been $150 per month and the average rent my dad charged his tenants
was about $45 per month... less than three times the rate others charged. There was one family he actually charged only
$15 per month and when they didn't pay because they might not've had it, he would actually help them with making sure their
heat and utilities stayed on. He cared about people that often probably didn't REALLY appreciate him and still,
undaunted, he continued to care.
THIS sounds REALLY
familiar to ME...
My dad has a soft spot in his heart for helping people and I am proud to
know that this often referred to FAULT of his came directly to me thru blood. I got it honest because I am
my father's son. Halleluiah!
That's kind of funny to me in a way because even as he was extremely generous
he was also equally frugal with his money when it came to family household expenditures. I remember that my mother liked
getting the best cuts of meat for our freezer from Slaughter's (was downtown) and food from whatever the name of the
store was where Hoover's Restaurant is on Manor Road now, before it was Minimax, and milk every Sunday from Old Bossy's.
I used to LOVE Old Bossy milk. They had great egg nog and chocolate milk too.
I am without question also my
mother's son because I love having the best things as well. I suppose I am the epitome of them both... proudly.
Take all that in contrast to my dad shopping at places like Culp's in
Montopolis... buying two-day old bread and no-name brand foods including pot pies and plastic bottles of milk that he would
also put into the freezer for future consumption. Of course you know that the once-frozen milk tasted like water by
the time it thawed out but daddy said that it was still milk and good for us. We had to drink it, protest or not.
Maybe that's why I water down orange juice to this day... You think?
My daddy... There's so much more to say and I am sure others will
add to what I have to say at the appropriate time. I just hope those he was kind to truly appreciated the
way he treated them, family or not, and thereby learned from the example he lived as to HOW to treat others.
And I pray that he holds on as long as he wants to.
My friends Holland Wiler, Thurston
Bilal and Rick Epstein comforted me by saying "My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family. It sounds like your
dad has lived a great life and has touched so many people. When my time comes I hope that I will have folks
remembering me in the ways you portray the memories with your dad." (paraphrased)
My prayer? God, please continue to bless the world. Amen.