When Parents Fib…
He was tall….but not really. In other words, he was “tall” in the way someone appears tall because of his presence. How do I know he wasn’t really “big”? He always told me he was 6’ tall but when I, his daughter, got to be 5’9” and eclipsed his height, I knew.
The reality is: He was 5’8” tall.
He also told me the Japanese stripped him of his hair (he was bald) in World War II. The truth? My father never served in the Pacific arena during the war. He was never taken prisoner. The farthest he got from little ol’ Rhode Island was to Princeton, New Jersey to teach physics and math to student officers in training. Sure, his teaching was still a war effort but he never met the enemy (even if his tale is more exciting!)
Dad met my Mom at a local dance which, in the day, was their eharmony way of meeting eligible others. When they married, after 2 years of courtship, he had to borrow a car to take them on their honeymoon to Old Orchard Beach, Maine. It’s of note that my father had only gotten his driver’s license one week earlier.
My mother worked at the Apponaug (Warwick) Mill, in the office, where she was a clerk.
Dad was a teacher and coach at John F. Deering High School (renamed West Warwick High School today).
Later, Dad became Vice-principal and Principal of our town’s only high school and Mom became a type of “First Lady,” accompanying him to all major events.
His most significant legacy (besides us, of course, his children)? Dad ushered in the Teachers’ Union in West Warwick to insure jobs couldn’t be given away as political favors. (West Warwick was a very political town.)
It was only this past summer a female teacher at West Warwick High School contacted me. She’d been researching and discovered my Dad’s role in the birth of the Union. I confirmed he was responsible and she expressed her gratitude.
Looking back on it now, his drive to bring the teachers’ union into the town was a gutsy move. I recall the jockeying and pushback from others but he and some others stayed the course.
……If only he didn’t fib to me about his height and hair. Especially the hair.
I can’t tell you how many of my little friends I told: “Oh, my Dad’s hair got ‘taken by the Japs’ (they weren’t politically correct then, either) for their dolls.” It never occurred to me how strange it would be for Japanese doll makers to put an Irishman’s hair atop the heads of Japanese dolls.
Kids are easy. They pretty much believe anything an adult tells them….until they’re teen-agers. Then they don’t even talk to adults.
Here’s a pic of my Mom and Dad in Old Orchard Beach in the late 30’s. Dad is suited up in his Johnny Weismuller “onesie” bathing suit.