Treasured memories on Father’s Day
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:57PM
Reminder: Sunday is Father’s Day.
I’ll be at Bronswood Cemetery to thank Dad once again for teaching my friends and me rules and sportsmanship by umpiring our back-yard baseball games in Riverside, refereeing our touch-football contests and timing our runs around the block with a stopwatch.
He took me to my first baseball games in 1946 when I was 8 years old (the Boston Braves beat the Cubs 3-2 and the Boston Red Sox beat the White Sox 7-6).
He bought season tickets to Chicago Cardinals National Football League games at Comiskey Park where we washed hot dogs down with hot chocolate.
He placed a new baseball in my stocking every Christmas.
Dad had a fabulous upbringing of his own with 11 brothers and sisters in a big Riverside house.
The boys used to climb out of an attic window and race each other down by clinging to the chimney, gripping shingles, hanging from gutters and dropping onto the ground.
The girls waited at the front gate in summer for famed Chicago Tribune sportswriter Ring Lardner to stop by with poems he had written especially for them on the afternoon train. Those poems would be priceless today.
The village showed Saturday afternoon cartoons at the Town Hall. Dad’s brothers and sisters once posted an invitation on the screen for a party at their house after the show. My grandparents had to hurry to the store for ice cream and cake when over 50 kids showed up on the lawn at 3 o’clock.
Dad and his friends rode their bikes to a gravel airplane strip on what is now Brookfield Zoo’s north parking lot to wait for the mail plane from St. Louis. The pilot would throw them candy as he taxied to a stop.
The pilot made international headlines in 1927 by making the first solo transatlantic flight to Paris in his Spirit of St. Louis airplane.
His name was Charles Lindbergh.
Dad went to Francis Parker High School on Chicago’s Near North Side. The horrific gangland St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in a parking garage only two blocks away.
“Our senior class president thought it would be neat to see what happened, so she made a fake press badge and walked right past the police to see dead guys against the wall,” Dad said. “She either transferred to another school after that or was home-schooled because we never saw her again.”
Work of art
Dad was an amateur artist. He built an elaborate model railroad in our basement, complete with a painting of the Swiss Alps, little fir trees, twinkling stars and a mountain stream.
Whoever lives in that house today would be amazed to see what’s under a wall the next owners put up after we sold the house in 1952.
We had great family vacations, including a horse-back riding ranch in Colorado. My sister escaped a serious injury by deftly getting off her horse when it suddenly rolled over in an effort to get rid of flies on its back.
Dad and I golfed in 1958 at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. We were amazed to see women on their hands and knees cutting the grass with scissors. The women got behind trees when we teed off. They giggled and stuck their heads out when I sliced a shot right into a tree.
It was the funniest moment Dad and I ever shared. I’m sure he remembers.