Monday, December 3, 2012

Memories with Dad - Gerry, 68

When I was a young child, my dad worked the three to eleven shift at H. J. Heinz.  He first worked in Sharpsburg where we lived.  The plant he worked at was just across the tracks at the corner of 19th Street and Chapman Street.  He walked to work--it was just across the railroad tracks and down one block. 

This was the H. J. Heinz plant, and they blew their own glass bottles to make ketchup and pickles.  He was there over 25 years.  Then they closed that plant.  He worked in the North Side plant as a lead man.  This meant that he was in charge of other men also, and they loaded the large tractor trailor trucks, which delivered all over the country.

He always wore blue denim pinstripe overalls and blue work shirts.  This was their standard uniforms.  The company supplied them.  I especially thought the caps they were given looked nice.  When dressed for work, he looked like perhaps a railroad engineer or train conductor.

I never saw very much of him because he kept busy in the morning tending the chickens, cutting the grass, and working in the garden, and then he watched his The Price Is Right and two soap operas before he had his dinner and left for work. 

He didn't like to have any conversation when his programs were on.  I never knew for sure, but I think he was a little hard of hearing because he always talked to loud and played the TV terribly loud also.  I mainly got to spend a little time with him on the weekends.

He sometimes would take me to Dee's store to get a root beer float.  What a delight!  Huge mugs were kept frosty cold in the freezer and then large scoops of ice cream placed in them.  Draft root beer came up over the top which foamed way up over the top.  Wow!  It was hard to finish it was so big.  What a deal: ten cents!  I remember my belly hurt if I finished it, but I always tried to anyway.

I remember I loved the Cisco Kid and his sidekick Poncho.  That was my favorite TV program.  One time my father took me to Forbes Field in Oakland.  We had to go on two streetcars to get there, but I got to see my idol, Cisco.  But I was a bit put out because he never took off his mask so you could see all of his face.  He did tricks with his horse, a beautiful white stallion, but for the life of me, I can't recall the horse's name. 

When I sat outside with my dad, he would put us in "the crusher."  It was a silly game where he put his arms around me and held me so I couldn't get loose.  He loved to tease.  Any time I asked him to tell me a story came the reply, "I'll tell you the story about Jack and Madoree, and now my story has begun.  And I'll tell you another about Jack and his brother, and now my story is done."  I would say that was not a story, and he would laugh and say his story again.  He liked to yodel and was good at it.  I tried to do it but couldn't.  He could yodel for fifteen minutes straight!

As I got older as a teen, Dad paid less and less attention to me.  We never seemed to get along.

He was very strict, and he loved us.  But he never expressed his feelings to any of us very much.  He was a good man and a good provider.  He had a good heart.

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