That was my bad at the beach in ’41. From the gathering of photos kept he seemed to like the beach and the lifestyle. Young tan stud on the beach plus he played in a band.
There is a story that he didn’t get into the ocean and I must admit I never saw him get into the ocean. My mom used to drag me around in the ocean until it became second nature to swim but dad stayed up on the beach. The story I heard was his brother Bill almost drowned him once in the ocean and he never went back.
I called him Dad. I don’t think I called him Daddy but I may have early on. Never ‘Pop’ or ‘Father’ but always ‘Dad’. I certainly never knew he was a ‘George’ but he was a junior named after his ‘George’ dad and he named my older brother ‘George’ but I don’t remember using or hearing that name associated with him.
It took me awhile to figure out whom ‘Jelly’ was but all his friends and associates used it to refer to Dad. I never heard the story but figured his initials G.E.L. turned into his nickname and it stuck. When his identity became ‘Jelly’ I’ll never know but either the name seemed to fit or his personality changed to match the name.
I wondered why I wasn’t called ‘George the IV’ but it was my brother’s job to carry on the family name. I also never associated my brother with the name ‘George’. I always, to this day, call him ‘Chick’. Don’t ask me where that came from.
Dad was the head of the family. He had a place at the head of the table and no one else ever sat there. He carved the turkey on Thanksgiving. He provided a ton of stuff for Christmas. He bought cars at the same place. He rode the bus to work until later in life when he was working later and later. He did the bills. He seemed to enjoy being alone watching television and eating ice cream. He painted our shed that held rusty broken tools over and over again.
On a couple occasions when I received the wrath of ‘George’, I would respond ‘Yes sir’. I never had any fear of physical punishment and not real sure I paid any attention but he was the ‘Head of the Household’ so I obeyed the rules. I was mostly handed to my mother to translate his wishes to me. I always felt a closer connection with my mother’s family than being Jelly Junior, though I look just like him only with a beard.
So if Dad was alive today, whoever is close enough in the family would gather at the house after church and gather around the table and he would offer grace to a meal brought home from the club and the conversation was golly and frivolous and somewhat awkward until presents were open and a possible cake with ice cream then the television would be turned on and everyone would sit in silence and stare at the tube.
What would I buy for my Dad now? Old Spice after-shave? Novelty tie? Cross pen? A mug that will go up on a shelf and never be used? A Spencer gag gift that will go to the trash before being opened?
Dad didn’t have any hobbies. No fishing stories or construction instructions or golf adventures (Mom had those) or even old musical experiences. Dad woke, shaved, got dressed and went to work. Dad would come home and watch television and never say a word. Maybe mom and Dad would talk but everything was private. My brother and I lived in our rooms and never asked.
Here is my dad, my brother and I at the beach. I am either being christened to the ocean gods or being sacrificed to the sharks. Don’t know why he is wearing glasses but maybe he was reading the instructions on how to empty the load on those bulky cloth diapers.