I wish I was in San Diego with my father and my sisters but I am not. The price of gas has made my trips to San Diego less and less frequent. But I will do this little post about him and call him in an hour or so to talk sports, music and listen to his wild stories that we kids never knew if they were true or not.
My father was in the Navy for twenty years. He was usually gone more than he was around in the late 50’s early 60’s. When he retired from the Navy, he went into the Federal Prison system for another 20 years. Evidently the man didn’t mind working for ‘the man’. He was a violent man when he drank, until he finally learned to control his temper and quit slapping my mother and we kids around. I didn’t take his shit willingly, I would fight back and on one occasion take a brass lamp and knocked him upside the head with it. Of course I also dropped the lamp and ran like hell, hiding out for a couple of days until he calmed down.
When I was in my late teens and becoming more active in anti-war causes, civil rights and generally most liberal issues, we butted heads all the time. My father was a born Republican, his mom and dad both staunch Republicans.
My father and I would have huge political discussions that would turn into screaming matches. He would end up calling me a ‘commie’ or sometimes worse but I would stand my ground..never letting his nasty name-calling get the best of me, I could dish it out just as easy as he did. My mother would just roll her eyes and leave the room.
My father had the audacity to take my mothers ballot and mark who she was going to vote for each election. I was appalled at that..and would bug my mother and demand to know why she allowed him to do that. Finally one day my mother told me that my father thought he was telling her who to vote for, but the reality was that she would vote the opposite of what my father had marked. Made me smile like a cheshire cat that did.
When I started hitch-hiking to Santa Barbara to attend marches and protests my father would ground me. But the next weekend I would sneak out and attend another event, sometimes getting my ass beat when I got home. The few times I was arrested my father would drive down to Santa Barbara, get me out of jail and then scream and holler at me the whole way home..only to see me do the same thing the following weekend.
I eventually became an emancipated minor. I had a full time job and was going to the nearby Junior College. The car I had bought and paid for with my own money was kept by my father when I packed up my clothes and moved out of his home, waving the court order in his face and telling him to shut the fuck up…he couldn’t tell me what to do any longer. It was his way of getting back at me for not being an obedient child I guess..never really asked him about that.
We did not see or speak to each other for a few years after that. I married my first husband at the age of 21 and suddenly wanted to reach out to my father. He accepted my invitation to come over and get to know my husband, an Air Force Sargent at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
We still argued about politics but this time I was his “little hippie-commie-pinko”, said in a tone of voice that didn’t reek of hatred.
As we both aged, we stopped trying to talk politics and went to subjects we both shared a deep love for..sports and music. We could talk for hours about baseball, football, recording artists and our voices would never rise in anger, instead there would be lots of laughter.
Within the last few years, my father has told me that he will never vote for another Republican, he hates them all now. I damn near choked on my lunch as we sat in a nice restaurant that afternoon. I jumped up and hugged him tightly around the neck and thanked him.
He told me to sit the hell down I was making a scene.
We still don’t talk politics but I will never forget that moment when he finally admitted the Republican’s had an agenda that didn’t benefit the common man. What finally opened up his eyes was, in retirement, he was getting fucked over and the realization that it was Republicans doing it to him must of been hard for a life-long Republican like him to swallow.
It had to be even harder to admit it to his ‘little hippie-commie-pinko”..but he did.
And for that I love him.