While visiting one day with friends, the conversation traveled toward fool-hearty, dim-witted, or just plain stupid things we had done as kids which should have added handfuls of gray hairs to our parents heads. I related a few stories of instances that I or my six siblings had put our father through where he always showed love and patience in dealing with the situations. After several of these stories our visitor asked, “Did your father have a temper at all?” That question set my mind to pondering. In all my memories of my dad, I couldn’t recall a time when he lost his temper. So as soon as our visitors left, I went to my computer and sent an e-mail to my brothers and sisters asking them if they could recall of instances where Daddy had lost his temper. The answers were all the same with additional shared memories of situations which showed the patience of a great man.
Remember the Mulberry Tree? Yes, the one located just off the front edge of the steps leading to the front porch. It was almost perfectly placed between the front porch and the hedges bordering the inside of our driveway. To its east was our sidewalk, and just a few feet west of the tree was our front lawn. Actually, the front lawn would have begun at the sidewalk, but grass never grew under the mulberry tree.
And, since grass never grew under the mulberry tree, it made for the perfect place to play in the dirt. Except of course during the late spring and early summer when purple mulberries were everywhere. Remember that time of the year how our sidewalk used to turn purple from people stepping on the mulberries and squishing the juice out of them? And remember how the first five feet of linoleum inside the house always had purple tennis shoe imprints on it?
My fondest memory however, involves a rope hung from the mulberry tree. One substantial branch of the mulberry tree went from the trunk at a height of about seven feet, and stretched to just above the roof line of the front porch. I say substantial because I know it held the weight of a human. Carl Peters used it to get to my bedroom window, which of course was just above the roofline of the front porch. It was on this branch that hung a large black rope. Initially, I think Scott tied the rope to the branch. I believe its main purpose was to swing from it. I discovered a much better use.
It must have been 1968, or possibly 1969. I was 12 or 13 at the time, and of course my love of life was baseball. I always had a bat, glove, or baseball in my hand, if not all three. And sometimes there just wasn’t anybody to play with. So I decided to use the rope as a ball. I tied a firm knot in the base of the rope about two and a half feet off the ground. This was a perfect strike-zone. And I had enough clearance from the tree on one side and the corner of the house on the other to take full swings at the rope. Or, I thought I did. Just 6 or 8 inches off the corner of the house was our water faucet. One two-foot piece of pipe coming strait out of the ground with a faucet handle threaded to the top.
Well, I imagine you can probably guess what happened next. After several swings of the bat making dead-on contact with the knot in the rope, I had one unfortunate back swing. Yes, it made dead-on contact with the top of the water faucet and knocked it clean off. Of course water went shooting 15 feet into the air and into the branches of the mulberry tree. After thinking for several seconds how I could possible fix this without getting into trouble, I decided I couldn’t.
...I told Clark it reminded me of when I was learning to drive:
It was in the Plymouth...and it had a messed up fender for ages. Finally Dad had gone to the junk yard and gotten a replacement fender, and spent all one week-end day replacing it. Sunday evening I got into the car (with the just replaced fender, backed up....and right into the weir with the same back fender. I know what you mean Clark about dreading to tell Dad...I went into the house...he was already in bed...and when I started to confess, he said, "I heard. I never should have replaced that fender, nobody had an accident when it was crumpled."
We were blessed with a very special Dad.