Father of the Century

Picture a father walking his daughter down the aisle to hand her off to the groom. Then, picture the Dad stopping at the foot of the altar to tell a heart-felt story about him, God and his daughter. This is the most sincere, honest, and hilarious yarn I have ever heard. Watch the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqEkPjUbmIA

JR Sr.

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Happy Father’s Day to all. The photo above is of my Dad with my sister and me. This photo was taken on a Sunday. How do I know? Dad always dressed up on Sunday to go to mass. He stayed dressed for the day. During the week, he wore blue work shirts and blue work pants. Most days he looked like he worked in a coal mine. He came to America from a small town in Hungary. His half-sister Anna and her husband sponsored him. He arrived at Ellis Island at age seventeen with but a few coins in his pocket. Somehow he found his way to Burnside in Chicago. There, he stayed at a local boarding house until my Great Uncle got him a job at the Illinois Central Rail shops on 95th and Cottage grove Avenue. His job involved doing repair on the brakes of rail cars. When he reached sixty-five years he retired from the same job.

Dad was a maniac for hard work. His idea of retirement fun was to cut tall grass with a scythe on his farm in Michigan. He created a park with a baseball field for his grandkids. We spent many weekends visiting and there was always a baseball tournament going on the entire weekend.

Dad was an excellent father and a superb role model for me, my brother, and Sis.

 

The Real Grampa Joe

The Real Grampa Joe

My dad left Hungary when he was just seventeen years old. His father told him he had to go to America because he could no longer feed him.  I admired him for the courage it took to make a move like that. He never looked back. Once he arrived in the USA it became his new home, and he adapted quickly. His sponsor was my Aunt Anna and her husband John. Uncle John worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. It was Uncle John who got dad his first and only job in America.

Dad worked as a laborer at the Burnside shops. He became an expert at repairing brakes on rail cars. During his career as a laborer, he received several awards for money-saving suggestions for how to improve the efficiency of brake beam repair.

Dad met Mom in Burnside and that is where they married. They bought a house with one of the very first Savings and Loans mortgages. They lived in that house and raised three kids there. At age seventy, Dad bought Mom her dream house in Calumet Park. He took out a loan and paid it off before he died.

Dad was a staunch Democrat. He voted the way his boss told him to vote because he didn’t want to rock the boat with his job. Dad and Mom lived as conservatives. They would have died from shame had they accepted welfare. They didn’t have much, but they knew how to make it stretch and to work for them. They made today’s Green Movement look like a bunch of wasteful polluters. There wasn’t anything Dad or Mom wouldn’t reuse or recycle into something of value.  Sometime, I’ll tell the story of being sent out to the street to collect horse manure for Mom’s garden, or  going to the railroad tracks to collect coal from the roadbed, or about raising pigeons and chickens for Sunday meals, or about using old pieces of rubber to fix worn tires.

Dad taught me moodiness, and quiet. He also taught me honesty, love, and the value of hard work. He taught me love by example. He and my mother parted only by death after sixty-four years of marriage.

Dad retired at sixty-five from the very same job he got when he arrived from Hungary. He never complained, he just kept working hard, and kept on loving us the best he knew how. He remained independent until his last week on earth. When he realized his loss of independence, he left the same way he came, alone.

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