Sunday, October 3, 2010

Daddy's Little Girl (part two)

The following is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Ok, gentlemen! Trivia time! (Ladies, if you know this, give yourself an extra 100 points!) What is the part on an electric drill that holds the bit to the drill called??? Take your time. I'll wait....

Last spring, I was driving the kids to school one morning. We were listening to some random radio station that was having a weird trivia contest and that was the question. Before the dj even had the words out of her mouth I started screaming, "Chuck! CHUCK! It's called a CHUCK!"

I know this because my father invented it.
My father worked for Jacob's Manufacturing for most of my childhood and teen years. He was a self taught engineer. He never graduated high school but received his GED after he married my mother. He was a genius without an education, but he never let that stop him or ruin his confidence.

When he was hired by Jacob's, he had to sign an agreement that anything he may invent at work was property of the company and in return he would receive a cash bonus. His cash bonus for inventing something that everyone has in their home today was about $40. So he never made his million but it was one of his claims to fame.

My father was truly blessed with many gifts. He could sing and loved to dance. He was a talented painter, carpenter, and mechanic, among other things. All of his skills were self taught by way of survival. He was the youngest of 9 boys of an immigrant Polish family. They were their own baseball team.

Being the youngest of this family was not an easy life. He had nothing but hand-me-downs until he married my mother at age 18. His feet were damaged by frostbite from wearing shoes that were too small. The worst of his youth was when, at age 14, he found his own father after he had hanged himself. This story has only been told to me once by my mother on the evening after Daddy's funeral. After his own father had committed suicide, my grandmother remarried. She remarried a man with children of his own and my father was pushed to the bottom of this entire totem pole. So now, not only did he get the hand-me-downs, the step children resented my father and the one or two of his brother's that still lived at home. My father was frequently locked out of the house at night by one of them, forced to sleep in a cold barn.
He never had his own bed until he was married.

The fact that he had such a hard life was never forced down our throats. He would give us glimpses into his childhood but it was more of the fun stories he liked to tell. Like the time his brothers wouldn't let him tag along with the older boys, so in retaliation he smeared manure on their bike seats...

The story that always stuck with me was the time he had saved up to buy his own pair of brand new dungarees only to get to the store to find that the price had gone up from $1.25 to $1.50. It breaks my heart even now to think of his disappointment.

His hardships growing up only created a man who loved life more than anyone I've ever met. Here was a man who loved to fly on an airplane because they fed him in the sky. And he didn't care if it was only a bag of peanuts!

The only book he ever kept next to his bed was 'How to Make Friends and Influence People'. People loved this man. His best friend, Cesar, looked to him as a father figure in his own life. Cesar was so distraught when Daddy died that he insisted in riding in the front seat of the hearse. I saw more grown men cry at my father's funeral than I can remember. He was a man of integrity and grace and people respected him.

Women would line up to dance with him whenever he and my mother went to a dinner dance or wedding. One year, when my sisters were at Mercy High School he took them to the Father/Daughter Dance. Daddy ended up dancing with one of the nuns. The very next day she quit the convent.

True story.


  1. Now I know why you are the amazing woman you are. God bless you.

  2. Your dad's story is similar to my Grandfather's! He didn't graduate HS either but worked at GE as an engineer and invented a bunch of stuff there. Your dad sounds like a wonderful spirit.