I know I’m a day late, but I was busy yesterday.
Spent the morning in Church, then the afternoon with The Wife, then the evening with The Kids and The Grandkids.
But I was definitely thinking about my Dad.
I’ve posted a bit about my Dad in the past, including this heartfelt homily a few years ago on Father’s day. I’ve never been much of one for repeating myself so I’ve not put up another one…though I could say volumes about how great a man my Father was, I just don’t think that adequately tells the story.
I would like to say something about him and why this never occurred to me before, I truly don’t know. From here on out, assuming I remember and am not wrapped around the axle on something else, I’m going to post something about my dad every year on Father’s day and on his birthday. Just a short anecdote or factoid to let you know who he was a little bit, and also to save his memory for posterity.
I don’t really know much about my Grandpa on my Dad’s side. The first funeral of my memory was Grandpa Stone’s. He died when I was fairly young. Dad told us what a great man he was, but very few details. I just don’t really know much about who he was or what he was about.
I don’t want that to happen to the memory of my Dad, so I’m going to write a little about him here, and hopefully my kids and grandkids will be able to look back at this and get a feel for who he was.
I think my first installment is going to be Dad’s favorite joke (mom wasn’t overly fond of it and would groan every time he told it).
Dad was a very serious man and didn’t show much emotion…including humor. Things that would have the rest of us rolling on the floor with laughter might get Dad to smile a little bit and maybe even let out a little snort of laughter.
So seeing him tell this joke and laugh out loud was something of a thrill. It makes me smile (and tear up a little bit) just thinking about it.
Dad loved airplanes and had a private pilot’s license. He couldn’t afford to fly much, but he did when he could and would take us up in little Pipers and Cesnas to fly around the countryside and see things from a bird’s eye view.
Because of his love of flying, his favorite joke was fitting:
An old farmer and his wife were at the county fair. The fair was being held on the grounds of the local grass airstrip and there was a pilot there offering rides in his nondescript four seat plane of uncertain descent (and maintenance).
The old guy had never flown before and thought he’d like to give it a try so he approached the pilot and said “The missus and I’s never been in one of them fancy flyin’ machines…how much fer a ride?”.
“$50 for a half hour” the pilot replied.
“Fifty Dollars!” the old farmer exclaimed; “that’s a fortune. I reckon we’re gonna pass.”
“Well…” said the Pilot “…if you really want to fly and you’ve never been up before, I guess we might be able to work something out.”
“How about this: I’ll take you up for the half-hour and give you the ride of your life. If you can both finish the whole ride and not make a peep…no screams, no crying out, no begging me to stop…you won’t have to pay me a cent.”
“But” he continued “if you cry out even once, you’ve got to pay me the whole $50….deal?”
The old farmer thought about it for a minute. Looked over at his wife…she was a steady ol’ gal and not prone to swooning or hysterics…and made his decision. “You’ve got a deal” he replied.
The deal struck, they boarded the plane – the Pilot up front and the farmer and his wife in the back – started up, taxied down the grass and lifted into the clear country air.
Immediately, the pilot gave it full power and climbed as fast as he could, putting as many g-forces on that old plane as it could handle. As he reached altitude, he turned the yoke until the plane rolled onto it’s back and then pulled back into a screaming power dive, reminiscent of his days as a P-47 pilot in WWII. When he got enough airspeed, he pulled the yoke back to the stop again and brought it up into an inside loop…and he was just getting started.
He flew barrel rolls, spit “s”s, hammerheads, Immelmen’s…anything he could do to shake up his passengers and get them to cry out. Every maneuver was performed a little more aggressively than the last in the effort to break their resolve.
Over and over he shook the old farmer and his wife, tossed them, scrambled them as best he could.
After 30 minutes of non-stop aerobatics, and without a sound coming from the back seat of the plane the whole time, the pilot finally gave up and reluctantly returned to the airstrip.
He landed gently and idled to to the parking area, his admiration for the old couple growing by the minute.
He cut the engine and as the prop slowed and the plane coasted to a stop, he said over his shoulder “Well, I’ve gotta hand it to you. I threw everything at you that this old bird could handle and you never gave in. I guess that was worth the $50.”
“Ayup” said the old farmer. “I gotta admit that you just almost had me there once. I almost cried out when the missus fell out, but fifty bucks is fifty bucks.”
Ok…so it’s a little corny…but Dad loved that joke and it makes me laugh out loud thinking about how much he enjoyed telling it.
Happy belated Father’s day to my Dad and to all the other Fathers out there who dedicated their lives to making us hard-headed kids into functional members of society.