Mom tells me of a time when dad came home with Art and the back seat of the car was covered with empty cloth bank bags. Now why would a couple of guys leave in the morning and return with a car that had a half dozen empty bank bags in the back seat?
Some times dad’s friends were shady, maybe on the edge of society and what was acceptable.
There was Henry, dad told me stories of going down to see the judge and handing him an envelope of cash to clear up problems with an accident that happened while Henry was driving drunk. All I remember was a wrecked Corvette sitting in Henry’s side yard with a tarp over it also wrecked while driving drunk.
One night when my parents lived on Route 10 Henry’s brother showed up in the middle of the night and slept up against the side of the house. His car had broke down and he didn’t want to wake anyone up in the middle of the night so he just slept outside. Mom woke up and saw a man out there and screamed, Dad called the cops. then they realized who it was and had to straighten all that out.
One day dad showed up at one of my uncles homes with a revolver he wanted to sell. At the time dad had Hodgkin’s disease and looked like death warmed over from the treatments. My uncle gave him twenty bucks for that revolver and told me the story of it about forty years later.
One of dads favorite TV characters was Jim Rockford, he was always on the shady side picking door locks and printing his own business cards. I think dad admired that.
One day with mom in the car and all of us kids a trooper stopped us on 5s and started asking questions about all the wire in the back of the station wagon. Just picture mom and dad in the front seat three kids in the middle and a bunch of copper wire with the insulation burned off in the back. The trooper asked a few questions, mom looked panicked and probably a few of us kids started crying. Eventually that trooper just took his info and sent dad on his way, telling him he better not hear about any stolen wire in the area.
I learned how to open a locked door with a credit card from dad. How to tow a car and how to be towed in a car. Always safety first Dad would put a pipe on the chain to keep the two vehicles from getting to close and banging into each other or use an old tire to cushion the blow. I learned how to use a slim piece of metal to open the locked car door, and how to throw a couple tires on the ground roll the car up on the passenger side (no mirror) on top of the tires and then remove a transmission.
People speak of bonding we did that father son style. When I was about ten he had me turning valves in a Volkswagen head using a hand cranked valve grinder.
We heated the heads up in the oven and he put new inserts in then I sat at the kitchen table and cranked the handle. We bonded.
I think my brother Chris replaced and engine with Dad in one of the hippie vans. There were a couple of those vans, the most memorable had A-team stripes, no bumper and no grill. The back seats came from a wrecked van in a junkyard and smelled of wasp and hornet spray because you had to evict the wasp and hornets before you could get them out of the wreck.
We used to go down to the end of Macarthur Ave and get hair cuts from Joe. Dad would get us crew cuts and mom would go please don’t have all their hair cut off. Always an argument over that.
I’d call these things a pretty good time, but I don’t think everyone understands Indian rope burns and wrestling in the living room, or why the TV set was out on the porch and not connected to anything.