Signposts Along the Way: Signpost 5 – Jim, Dad & The Boss: Part 1 of 3

7 Mar

My father, Jim, was the black sheep of eight kids. Raised in the Bronx, NY, shortly after the Great Depression, dad had to make his own way in life. His father’s strict and dominating nature had a profound impact on his upbringing. He was raised to believe that as a man you showed no fear or emotion. You were to take control of whatever situation you were in and make things happen. As a result, whatever he said was how it was going to be. Whether at home or at work, he was THE BOSS! Utilizing that philosophy, he always made things work both physically and financially.

Dad preferred to spend most of his time alone; having only a few close friends. He was a product of his youth as he was taught early on to rely on no one but himself. In one way this was a very becoming quality. I’ll always remember dad’s example of never speaking badly about anyone – ever.  He just never did.

A very hard working man. Dad only took time away from work to go hunting and fishing – his favorite pastimes. One of his closest friends, and fishing buddy, Pete, convinced dad to take some time off and go to the beach with him. Thank God he did. As that was the day that he met my mom.

On the other side of town, my mom and her friend Angie decided that they deserved a break from life. The took a bus from Mount Vernon (NY) down to Glenn Island Beach in New Rochelle. They suntanned, relaxed and cooled off in the 75 degree water.

Not too far from Angie and mom, a very handsome young man was tossing the football with his friend. He was tall and athletic with thick reddish hair and a red mustache. As if it were scripted, the football was overthrown and landed next to moms chair. The embarrassed, young man jogged over to retrieve the ball. He looked down at mom and said, “Hello, sorry we almost hit you.” She laughed teasingly with a twinkle in her eye and said “Oh, that’s OK. What’s your name?” “Jim, he answered. And yours?” Mom just smiled not ready to revel too much to this handsome stranger. She just said, “It’s nice to meet you, Jim.”

Meanwhile dad’s friend, Pete appeared and struck up a conversation with Angie. Since it was getting close to lunch, they all decided to get a bite to eat together. Heading down the street to Swanky Franks, for hotdogs and Orange Julius, the foursome enjoyed a leisurely lunch together. Since mom still hadn’t revealed her name at this point, dad just started calling her Honey.  Not because he was being forward or impolite, but because it was the color of her hair. The nickname stuck and she has been called that to this very day.

After a day of laughing and lighthearted amusement, dad offered to drive the girls home so that they wouldn’t have to take the bus. When they reached moms house, she said, “Thank you for the ride, Jim. By the way, my name is Josephine, but you can call me Jo.”

That day was the start of my parents relationship. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of WWII. Dad had enlisted in the Army National Guard and was stationed locally. Although dad had a hectic schedule, mom and him did their best to see each other as often as possible. I think that made their relationship stronger. After a couple of years of courting they decided to marry.

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