Poems are Made by ‘Fools’ Like Him, My Dad, 95 Years Old

My dad is 95 Years Old. He will be 96 in December. I asked him recently if he’d ever thought of being a poet. I was surprised to hear his answer.

My father was born in 1921 in Oklahoma. He referred to his family as dirt poor because they lived in one bedroom shacks with dirt floors. He slept in the kitchen next to the wood-burning stove, the youngest of six children. His mother was a pentecostal preacher. His father, a quiet farmer.

At 6, he witnessed his dog being eaten by a bear. At 7, he worked in the cotton fields for the first two weeks of each school year (harvest time) to pay for his shoes and school books. He rode a horse to school bare back. At 14, he convinced his parents to buy a car, telling them he’d drive them to church instead of them having to take the horse and wagon.

At 18, he was the first child from his family to graduate from high school. The photo in the video is his high school graduation photo in 1939. He was drafted shortly after for WWII, and was trained by the army to be an electronic technician. He was stationed in the islands near Japan including Okinawa resetting the friend or foe codes daily for pilots. Wherever a new air strip was set up, he’d go. He was one of the few service men in his unit who could drive so he always drove.

At 24, he moved his parents to California, to get out of the dust bowl in Oklahoma. He settled in San Diego, then Sacramento.

I always found my father curious as he was very quiet but he listened to classical music, read a lot and loved to read poetry. Very odd pastimes for a blue collar worker with a high school education. He loves to travel. We lived in Italy when I was 11. He has always encouraged me to travel, to see the world, and follow my dreams.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who do the best they can. We appreciate you.

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