Sunday, January 09, 2011

Marching Orders

There are so many stories. And so many memories.

He was an entrepreneur and could do most anything. He worked hard and worked long hours and did whatever it took to provide for this family. In a very small town, he ran small businesses and put all four of his children through college. He would see that as one of his greatest accomplishments.

He loved God and was involved in and supported his local church. He was civic minded and loved his town as much as anyone who ever lived there.

He was a giver. He gave of his God-given gifts and talents. He gave to those in need. He invested his life in his family and his children were well equipped to be successful in life.

When he was a young man and a certain fellow was suspected of stealing a garden hoe from the store, he gladly took matters in his own hands. Back in those days everyone didn’t call the police when a crime was committed. This “much of a man” young man found the thief later that day walking in the city park. I’m not sure how hard he hit the thief between the eyes but I do know the man doing the hitting was missing one little round knob known as a “knuckle” on his right hand the rest of his life. I also know he got the garden hoe back.

There are several memories at the beach, at his wife’s objection, of him teaching his sons and son’s friend to play poker. The game was “strip poker.” The boys didn’t know he was dealing off the bottom of the deck. The boys learned in the long run how to play poker that would make them a little money later in life. They learned in the short run what it was like to be buck naked by the end of the game while the dealer had not taken as much as a shoe off.

When he was with friends at the Kiwanis Convention in NYC and realized Lyndon Johnson was at whatever event they were attending, he made his way (with friends in tow) through the crowd to meet the well known public servant. He was telling folks as they worked their way through the crowd that he was with the secret service. The crowd moved out of his way. He came back with a personal autograph of the sitting Vice President of the United States.

He did not keep it a secret when he found out he had to give himself an enema the night before a scheduled medical procedure. All the neighbors brought such things as garden hoses and large jars of Vasoline to the house the night before. It was the first “Enema Party” I ever heard about. I have never heard of such a party since.

I can still see him as the very large bride with big feet dressed in drag in the local Womanless Wedding pageants held to raise money for local charities. There was one “groom” who was much smaller and thinner and could not handle a poke in the ribs. When this ‘groom’ got poked he would jump and scream. He poked him all the way down the aisle in the make believe wedding. Everyone thought the “groom” was acting. He wasn’t. And everybody howled.

I can see him filling out fishing licenses for fisherman who didn’t have a good command of the English language who were purchasing their license at the store. He would always ask them in completing the application, “Where is your domicile?” And I remember the funny expressions on their faces.

I remember one Friday noon when he was in charge of the local Kiwanis program. HIs wife’s cousin from Florida, dressed in a business suit, was sitting at the head table with him. Everyone assumed his guest would be the program and at the appropriate time, he actually began introducing him as the guest speaker. What the Kiwanians did not know was the real program was the man who was dressed in coveralls working on the gas heater in the back of the room. In fact, the “heater repairman” was beating on the heater so loud that nobody could hear the “program” introduction. Some of the concerned Kiwanians got up from their seat to stop the rude repairman - only to find out it was a set up. The “repairman” was actually a casket salesman who was there to present the program. When the salesman finally got to the podium in his coveralls, the prepared speech was nothing more than one joke after another. Maybe the best Kiwanis luncheon ever.

...unless it was the day the Methodist preacher had the program which consisted of a slide show presentation of his recent trip to the Holy land. What the preacher did not know was a few of his Holy land slides had been replaced by slides of “scantily clad” women. That may have been the best Kiwanis program ever. The good-natured preacher accused him of the prank -although I think the slides belonged to another local prankster.

He was always kissing and hugging all the ladies in town until the day he patted (who he thought was the local preacher’s wife) a lady on the fanny as she was leaning over the frozen food counter. “ I am so sorry, I thought you were the preacher’s wife” should have been inscribed on his grave marker. It was the most classic quote that ever came out his mouth when the startled stranger jumped up and turned around to see who in the world had “patted” her on the butt.

.... actually maybe his most classic quote was when the lady was standing in front of his meat market with a chicken fryer held to her nose. Him: “Frances, what in the world are you doing? The Lady smelling the wrong end of a chicken: “I’m checking to be sure this chicken is fresh!!” He started to walk away and then stopped in his tracks and turned around and replied, “Frances, do you think you could pass that test?”

Maybe the quote about the preacher’s wife would have been more appropriate for his grave marker.

I also remember his words to his youngest son when he was heading to college for the first time a few weeks before the son turned 18, over 38 years ago. (The dad is pictured here later in life with John, his fourth grandson). As the mother was giving other more spiritual advice, his advice was much simpler and to the point.

“Give ‘em hell, son.”

He was not trying to be rude and meant nothing disrespectful. But believe me, the son heard what he was saying very loud and clear. He was giving him marching orders. He wanted him to go out in the world and take what he had learned living under his roof and do whatever it took to be a winner in this life and to make a difference in his world. And he wanted him to have fun doing it.

He was my dad. And I was his youngest son. I was very blessed to have Ed Goddard in my life for the first almost 40 years of my life. I have also been blessed to have all the memories the last 17 years since his death.

He died 17 years ago today, by the way. And I can still hear his marching orders.

I hear them every day of my life.


Carol Sue said...

So many good memories there of your father, so well written. He is now one of the Angels looking down upon you.

Anonymous said...

George and I were talking about him on the way home from church today-can't believe it's been 17 years. What a wonderful legacy he and Naia left and what great memories.

Anonymous said...

He was a special person and you honor him by your life.I remember my daddy kidding him about his shoe size.
Peggy Lucas

Anonymous said...

Bruce, what wonderful memories. I wish I could have met your Dad. What a wonderful blessing to have a Dad that loved and cared so much not only for his family but others. Sue