sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

Father’s Day

on June 13, 2012

Captain Johnnie Miller

My father was a very special man. He smelled of Old Spice and tobacco and sometimes martinis. He had a way of making anyone in his presence feel important. I came to see this was his greatest gift in life and the key to all his success. I wish I could spend Father’s Day with my dad. If your dad is still alive make sure you tell him one more time, while you still can, the things you love about him.

While many dads of the fifties and sixties could be strict and sometimes even harsh, my dad was just funny. Even so, when you were in trouble his jokes could send a clear message and sting as much as a slap. He was actually funniest when he was angry, but he was a patient man and was more likely to be angry at something rather than at somebody. You had to be careful though and not laugh at him when he was mad or you might find yourself the butt of his next joke.

My dad had an endless repertoire of stories. He did not take himself too seriously so in many of his stories he cast himself the fool. It was through his stories that he taught us about life. It was also how we came to know him. Little did we realize they would become his legacy.

Dad grew up during the depression in a dusty little town in West Texas. He went barefoot in the summer and put cardboard in the worn through soles of his shoes when it cooled down. I remember being bored and moping around one day and I asked him what in the world he could find to do in Big Spring, Texas when he was a kid.  He told me, “We’d hang out at the courthouse, chew tobacco and see who could spit the farthest. Or, I’d fight with Raymond Lee until Mama turned the hose on us. Now stop whining and go find something to do.”

My father flew the “hump” (over the Himalayas) during WWII. These pilots were little more than boys, a bit wild, and certainly daring. They traded eggs for extra gasoline and flew their beer around at high altitudes to chill it. One night a group of them were rounded up by the police in China and handcuffed to a flag pole for being drunk and disorderly. Their commanding officer was called in and after reaming them out told them to all report to his office the next morning at 0900. The pilots all just looked at each other until finally one piped up asking, “Sir, what about those of us who are scheduled to fly at 0700?”

When dad got out of the service he went to college on the GI bill. He was a graduate of the University of Texas and told “Aggie ” (Texas A&M) jokes all his life. He surprised me a few years ago when we were driving through Texas together and he told me he would have preferred to go to A&M. “Why didn’t you,” I asked?  Good old realistic Dad answered “Because I could get a ride to Austin with a buddy and I didn’t have any way to get to A&M.”

Dad traveled all over the world for his job and as the years went on he found it harder and harder to sleep on the plane. On one especially grueling trip he was determined to get some sleep , as he put it,”come hell or high water”. His solution was to hit the airport bar. It worked. He drank two Black Russians, fell asleep in the terminal and missed his plane.

After my father was widowed for the second time, he decided to finalize the plans for his own funeral. He went down to the funeral parlor, picked out his coffin, and made a dinner date with the elderly receptionist on the way out. She became his regular date until he died.

I miss my dad. In his last years he would drive his big, red cadillac up from Florida to visit me in South Carolina and we would sit on the screened in porch where I would let him smoke.  We’d have coffee in the morning and cocktails in the evening and he would tell me his tales for hours. I finally got to hear the ones he couldn’t tell us when we were kids.

Most all dads are special in their own way and they all have a story. For Father’s Day, how about sharing a memory of your Dad. Post it under “comments”.  Let’s all celebrate our dads together.

telling stories

Telling stories.

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8 responses to “Father’s Day

  1. Crystal says:

    This is very touching. I wish I could have met him. What a special man.

  2. Tom Miller says:

    so I had the same dad. I remember how pissed he and his Edison club cronnies were when somebody painted the e-club water tower. It wasn’t until college that I told him it was me. He just stood there, mouth open. First and maybe the only time I ever saw him speechless. I miss him too, sis.

  3. sixtiestosixties says:

    That was you? No, shit?

  4. Scott Miner says:

    I think climbing he tower was a rite of passage for a lot of kids in Niskayuna. I remember your dad when I would collect on my paper route, he was a happy guy…..

  5. sixtiestosixties says:

    Yes, he was.

  6. sharon says:

    woww….that was beautiful.

    i am working with a ww2 group. this rang clear.

    • sixtiestosixties says:

      Great stories from WWII. I read in the paper once a story about a couple of fly boys who crashed in the Himilayas and used broken parts of their plane to sled out. Not many WWII vets left.

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