On March 1st, 1936, the Hoover Dam was completed in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River in Nevada. Three-thousand miles away in Philadelphia, my father was born. The construction of the Hoover Dam is a story of technical achievement during the Great Depression.
Ironically my father would spend 35 years of his life as a technical illustrator for the University of Pennsylvania’s Physics department. My father’s illustrations can be found in more than 200 text books and publications. I would suspect that the total number of people that have seen my father’s works would equal the number of visitors to the Hoover Dam in his lifetime.
However, on this day, my thoughts are not focused on his personal achievements. Today I am channeling my emotions on his insatiable desire to tell stories and tall tales to enrich my life. As a child he didn’t need the benefit of Aesop’s Fables to compose a moral story. His plots were always very descriptive but never had a fairy tale ending.
For example when I was five years old he told me a story named, “Lefty”. This story was about a little brown rabbit that never listened to his father. The father rabbit told his son not to play around the old barn because it was dangerous. The story went on to describe the beautiful sights and sounds of animals playing on a farm. How the little rabbit easily made friends, then he abruptly ended the delightful story with a fox cutting off the little rabbit’s right ear in the barn. “Now you see, Marcelino, why they call him Lefty”?
Now my father told me this story while he was shaving with a straight razor after he found out I was playing near a man hole cover at the end of the block. Still till this day, I go nowhere near man-hole covers.
As I got older, his stories took on a more colorful nature for my amusement. By now we had a common experience, serving our country around the globe in the U.S. Army during hostilities [Korea]. Most of his stories were in Europe and related to his experiences during the Cold War, mine mostly were about the drug war in North-South America.
No matter the continent all the tall tales started with a common theme; drinking and getting into shenanigans. I left his home many an evening laughing and speculating on the truth of his stories. Unfortunately our days together telling stories are over now?
However, I do remember the last story he told before leaving this earth, but this one had a ring of truth to it.
Today’s date, March 1st, the day of my father’s birth, it’s also the date of his death?
On his death bed he remembered his birthday, but none of us present bothered to tell him it was technically the 29th of February. My father passed later that day and died on a leap day .
This is one story he told that I don’t consider a tall tale.
Happy Birthday Pop! Miss you, love you.