Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Did Your Father Love to Do?

Tomorrow is Father's Day, so I expected Randy Seaver to make the theme of this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun related to that, and he did not disappoint.

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) It's Father's Day in the USA on Sunday, so let's talk about our fathers.  

(2) What did your father really like to do in his work or spare time?  Did he have hobbies, or a workshop, or did he like sports, or reading, or watching TV?

(3) Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

The two things my father has always loved are cars and music.  He did things with cars both for work and his free time, and he played music in a lot of his spare time.

I don't know how young Daddy was when he first got hooked on cars, but I know he started racing when he was just a teenager.  He told me a story once about how he broke an arm when he was racing but was supposed to be doing something else, and he tried to hide it from his mother (my grandmother).  Years later he discovered that she had known all along that he was racing that day.

Daddy raced in Florida, California, Australia, and Texas, that I know of.  I think he mostly raced stock cars.  I don't know if he raced in New Jersey before moving to Florida.  He has lots and lots of trophies, which he has been threatening to get rid of, although I've told him he better not and that he should send them to me instead.  Somewhere (I have no idea where!) I have a photograph of him working on a car engine and my mother's brother hanging over the engine compartment on the other side.

When my family lived in Southern California, we would sometimes go with Daddy to racetracks, such as Pomona Raceway.  Years ago, while I was still living in Southern California, I was driving east on I-10 and drove through Ontario.  To the north side of the freeway was this massive empty lot with a huge pile of dirt in the middle.  There was nothing identifying the place, but it looked familiar to me.  I kept looking at it as I was driving past, and it suddenly dawned on me that it was the location of the former Ontario Raceway.  I couldn't have been there many times, but I somehow recognized it, even in its stripped-down state.

And Daddy's profession was being a mechanic.  He had shops of his own, and he worked for other people.  When we lived in Australia, he was photographed using a piece of expensive equipment for an ad that ran in the newspaper.  (A friend of mine told me that not any mechanic could use that equipment properly, so my father had to have been a damned good mechanic, which I knew already.)  When we moved back to the States and ended up in Niceville, the garage he had there became our place of refuge during Hurricane Eloise in 1975.  So I grew up around garages and racetracks, and the smell of engine grease is still oddly comforting to me.

My father's other great love is music.  He played guitar for my siblings and me when we were little, and we learned songs such as "Sixteen Tons", "Abba Dabba Honeymoon", and "Mairzy Doats" by heart.  Before he was married, he competed on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour with a swing band (The Court Jesters) that came in second to a very young Gladys Knight.  And he played piano and organ also; he always had a piano or organ in the house.  He recently decided to sell the organ he had, because he can't play anymore due to arthritis in his hands.  That was a sad day.

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