OHWOOD-L ArchivesArchiver > OHWOOD > 2008-06 > 1213528235
From: Bill <>
Subject: [OHWOOD] Black Swamp Heritage, "Father's Day", 15 June 2008,Vol 7 #20
Date: Sun, 15 Jun 2008 07:10:35 -0400
Black Swamp Heritage Articles
© Bill Oliver
15 June 2008
Vol 7 Issue: #20
Good Evening from the Black Swamp of NWoHIo,
Boy! This is the season for Father's Day consciousness. [err - Grand and
Great Grand Father] Michael Milligan's book and Sidney Poitier's new
"Letters to My Great-Grandaughter" [sub-title] are but two books which
are current. Both books are very different. Like I wrote last week,
Michael Milligan's book would have me laughing so hard it would scare
Barb when the laughter burst forward. As it turned out, I was correct.
We had a tragic death in the family this week and Barb felt I needed
something to take my mind from it, so she gave me the book ‘early'. It
Thoughts, all mixed up, flood into my mind this Father's Day – those of
My Father, myself as Father, and my/our Son as Father. Particularly
since our Son has a Son who could well make him a Grandfather relatively
My Paternal Grandfather was a very tall ‘drink of water'. When he would
cross his legs and put us on his ankle to ‘rock' [be lifted] HIGH into
the air we would giggle like crazy. He passed on before I reached the
height of his knee cap and the few memories I have are of a soft,
gentle, and sensitive giant. A man who cried harder than the son he
might have to take to visit the woodshed out back. I can hear him
hitting that wood cord and wailing hard enough to make Grandma Oliver
think he was "doing his duty" to his son.
My Maternal Grandfather, also was a most gentle man, yet most strict
with his daughters. They were required, always, to wear dresses and
shoes when "out of the house". Him I got to know only through stories
from those daughters and Grandma. He passed on nearly nine years before
my birth. Grandpa knew only four of his five daughters, but they all
told many stories of their Father and the "outings" they took. Gramps
had tuberculosis and suffered a bit; still he seemed to live life and my
Grandparents "made do" with the deck dealt them. Almost all the pictures
that survive today are of the "family", not just Gramma and/or Grandpa.
My Maternal Step-grandfather was not an unkind person but he really
never warmed to being a Grandfather. [At least he didn't know how to
show it.] He helped me with all kinds of projects, but he never invited
me to sit on his lap. Of course, my Sons weren't always ready to sit on
my lap either. They preferred to sit close beside me with my "han'
a-hind" to read to them.
There are three or four things which bring nostalgic pictures to my
mind. One of them is listening to water in a stream or rain on a roof.
Another is tramping through a wooded area. A third is watching flames of
a controlled fire such as in a fireplace or out camping in the ‘wilds'.
I've always enjoyed camping. When I was a lad, I often would take off
into the swamp/forests for a bit of solitude. I was never one to receive
high grades in "reading" in school. To this day I have some problems
with academic materials. Still, I was saved by an interest in history
and adventure and I usually had a book tucked nearby for when I was in
"solitude" mode. One outstanding memory was being about eleven, twelve
or thirteen, out in the woods, camping by the New Bern River near
Jacksonville, North Carolina. There my Father came to check on me and
found me sitting on the riverbank with my back against a tree, my
fishing pole/line in the water with the bobber riding the ripples, and
reading "Northwest Passage" by Kenneth Roberts. When he asked "how's the
fishing?" my reply didn't signal success, so he took my pole and lifted
it out of the water to examine the "hook". Much to his surprise there
was only a "sinker" at the end of the line. When asked why, my answer
floored him. I told him that I wasn't interested in catching any fish
and that when folks come by they don't interrupt my reading when seeing
the pole and bobber.
Memories of those campouts and the campfires in the evenings reminds me
of the campfires I shared with my Sons. Many of them were on Scout trips
and some of them were when the family traveled far and wide within these
good ole United States. Even today looking into a fire with take my mind
to one of those outings and fond memories will give me a "warm" glow.
Memories of camping in Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Mono Lake, Yosemite,
Copper Harbor, Old Man's Cave, just to name a few, are etched deeply in
I used to call my Dad "The Ole Man", a military title meaning the senior
ranking officer, but mostly I called him Pop. My children began calling
me Pop or Poppy. The Grandchildren continue the term Poppy. One time
while taking our oldest Granddaughter with us to California to visit
Dad, he was confronted with what she should call him since we both used
Pop or Poppy. He came up with the brilliant idea that since he was
already a "Grand" Father she make him a "Great" "Grand" Father. Em
thought about that a moment and replied, "Oh, then you're ‘GreatPoppy'.
It stuck!! I title he wore with button poppinig pride.
One of the Family traditions was begun many years ago. On Father's Day
and my birthday, my children and partner would ask me what I wanted. My
usual answer was "something you make yourself". One year when asked what
I would like to do on those days, I replied, "take you all out to
dinner." It stuck!! This expanded to celebrating their birthdays by
taking them out for a meal. Barb and I have enjoyed many memorable times
these past years.
Well, everyone, enjoy your Dads Day, I'm off to enjoy dinner at Bob
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-WI NV-WA-do-hi-ya NV-WA-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony)
"Myths are universal and timeless stories that reflect and shape our
lives ..." Alexander McCall Smith, Dream Angus
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