Pop, that is my term of endearment for my father, Lawrence Walter Whitehead. I am not sure, when I came up with that name for him, but I do know that I am the only one that calls him that, and it makes me feel special.
I have written previously that my father was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. He was coming of age in the 40’s and 50’s. His father died when he was not quite 14 years old. That has to be hard on any family. The truth is though; my grandfather was not “present” for my father as he should have been. I do not think he was there to play catch with him or guide him as other father’s did.
I believe that after my grandfather died in 1950, my father must have decided at some point that if he had children, he would raise them different. What we received as a result was a strict but fair loving father who was there for us. My father believes that family matters. We sat down at dinner as a family every night. We went to Church as a family. We all played sports and supported each other as a family.
Pop has key pieces of advice, colloquialisms, which he would bestow on his children as needed. Here are a few that I remember the most.
Nothing is easy
Nothing is free
You cannot make a silk purse from a sows ear.
He did not just fall off the turnip truck
(Mom, siblings, if you can remember the others, please share)
Saturday mornings must have been my mother’s time off from child rearing. As I recall, I spent many Saturday mornings time with my Dad and my siblings. We would make the rounds. First, we would get breakfast at Mr. Donuts. I still remember the glass window that you could see into the donut making area. It fascinated us as children. I can remember two distinct flavors. The first was the chocolate cake donut. The chocolate was so rich and it had the thinnest of glazes on top. The second was the coveted peanut donut. Who would have thought to combine donuts with peanuts. I can see it now.
After we got our fill at the donut shop, Dad would take us to the hardware store. Andy’s Hardware store was not only owned by Dad’s friend, Bob Cook, the Store also sponsored Dad’s softball team. Every time I see the rolls of chain and rope at any hardware store, I am instantly transported back to my childhood. I still love going to hardware stores. However, it is not because I am handy. I did not get that gene. It is because of the memories that can be invoked from going down that aisle.
No trip was complete without going down to the local Shell station. Dad’s other friend, Jerry Gorsica, owned the Shell Station. Remember the time when the gas station was full-service and included the mechanic shop.
My father’s plan to be an involved father sometimes came at a cost. My father was transferred a few times, so we would have to pick up our lives and move them somewhere new. As a child it was difficult. As it turns out, it was hard on everybody. Later I learned that these sacrifices were made were an effort for him not to get ahead, but to rather stay in a position that would allow him the family life that he wanted. I heard later as an adult that some of my father’s jobs, stunk. If it did, he didn’t let it show to his children.
Now my Pop is a grandfather, six times over. It is heart-warming to see him in this role. He is caring, funny, and sweet in this role.
Happy Father’s Day!