Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Hooty Ville Store - Remembering Dad

Bob stood behind the counter smoking an unfiltered Camel, adding up a small grocery purchase on the back of a paper sack using a blue ball point pen, and talking a customer about his favorite fishing spot along the St. Lawrence River in Northern New York.

Bob, passed away February 13th, 1998 at the age of 72 from brain cancer. HERE is that story.

For many reasons, my dad seemed to be happiest shootin' the breeze about fishing, hunting, football and his kids if they weren't in earshot. Always more talkative after a "couple of cold ones" he was a fascinating storyteller, always exaggerating - and could have easily given Garrison Keiler a run for his money.

An Army vet with two purple hearts and tours of duty in the South Pacific, Normandy and Korea, he was a bit tough, a bit shy, but well liked by just about everyone he worked with.

He wasn't always easy to live with, but he loved his family to the best of his ability. He was fiercely proud of every goal scored, every note; sour of otherwise, played, every job well done and was the world's best Grandpa to over a dozen grandchildren. His house was a shrine to his family, and hunting and fishing trophies.

Bob was a memorable character and my step mother always had a humorous tale to tell. She didn't mind telling him how it was, and one day she said to him, "Bob, we're incompatible, I'm a Pieces and you're stupid." I am sure she was diffusing one his more stubborn moments.

Dad loved living in the more rural parts of the North East. There were less people, less rules, and - he often carried a loaded .357, mostly because he could. It was a way of life that was just him. He just liked the woods, the peace and quiet, the mountains and the beer.

As far back as I can remember, he was an early riser, putting on the coffee, and listening to the local news. I am sure that he snuck in a beer or two when he could. As the story goes, one of those mornings during hunting season, a 12-point buck came down the power lines in his backyard stopping at the fence at the edge of his property. He went to the hall closet and got his 30-06, chambered a round, propped it up against the aluminum sliding-door frame on the back deck and fired.

The problem was that he had failed to let anyone else in the house know what he was doing at 5 am. My step-mother thought he had taken his own life until he came in the room to let her know he the he "bagged a big one!" At which point she let out a lengthily stream of cuss words - well as the story goes.

He was a bright guy, a mechanical genius, and insatiable tinkerer. He loved tools, and had an endless array of unfinished projects. In retirement he worked for a pool company selling and repairing pool filters, as well as analyzing pool water. He seemed to love the work, and was always happy if I stopped in to see him there.

In the late 50's through the early 70's he worked as a machine shop foreman, and later a manger. He took an early retirement in 1972 to run and manage a little general store in Harmonyville, Vermont - known by the locals as the Hooty Ville Store. In some ways it was his downfall, a double wide beer cooler and nothing more to do than open the front door and sit behind the counter on most days. He finally sold it as he tried to get his life back on track.

My favorite time with dad was a fishing trip we took took to a local fishing hole called: Brush Shop Pond. There we sat on the fieldstone dam, eating sandwiches beneath the fragrant evergreens, listening to the waterfall, and talking about the "big one" as we cast lures into the still waters. I don't think we caught anything that say - but I sure wish that it had never ended.

The last time I saw dad, he lay peacefully in a casket at a little funeral home up north. A Staff Sargent from the DAV came and saluted Sargent Johndrow and the attendants closed the casket.

I am looking forward to the next time I see him - I hope I can introduce him to you.

3 comments:

photogr said...

David:

Certainly a fitting tribute to your Dad. I would imagine we all have those special moments we shared with our Dads. Glad to see you share your thoughts and memories.

Tony C said...

I look forward to that day when I can meet and tell him what a blessing you've been in my life...and maybe swap a few stories.

Great post my friend.

Tevet said...

Awesome read that is descriptively well written. I gotta tell you, I was disappointed when I realized I was to the end of the entry. I wanted to learn more about Bob through your eyes.

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