Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

On Memorial Day

My dad loved movies. He'd go weekly as a kid, even if he'd seen it before. As an adult, he wouldn't pick up a newspaper to see what was showing; he would go to the theater and choose from there. Good, bad, indifferent, unremarkable, Oscar winners and Razzie winners--he saw them.
He grew up in a different time. My mother, two years younger, remembers going on her own to the butcher shop with her ration coupons for pork chops. She tells of taking her younger brother without a parent to the Tigers game, riding in the streetcar. It doesn't surprise me that my dad went to the movies a lot. How exactly he got in, whether sneaking or paying, is the question.
He and my brother had a game. In the weekly TV book, where the movies being shown were listed, Lou would read Dad the title. Dad could give him the year it came out, the main stars, and usually a plot summary for just about anything between 1930 and 1965, and for most films after that.
Born July 12, 1935, and going to the movies as soon as he could find his way there, he saw the newsreels as well. He saw the brave paratroopers saving our allies in France, our patriotic soldiers taking the beaches in Normandy. He knew he wanted to grow up and be in the Airborne, "jumping out of perfectly good airplanes" to save those on the ground.

He graduated from high school (the first in his family) in 1953. No jobs were to be found and his academic record wasn't college acceptable. He joined the Army in December 1954, I think; he told me once he'd wanted to be away from home on Christmas but had been granted leave. That might have been his second hitch, however.
But he made sergeant in record time and did make it to the Airborne. The first time in his life it mattered that he was Catholic was there; his commanding officer would round up all of the Catholics the night before each jump for confession and mass. He got out of the Airborne when he started having to pack his own 'chute--he felt that was something he'd rather leave to the experts. He even taught us kids the gesture for "company assemble"--paratroopers couldn't use verbal communication; sneaking around behind enemy lines meant silence. He'd put his right hand straight up, close his fist, and drop it to his shoulder. I still want to use that instinctively with my own kids.
His unit--if that's the proper term--no longer exists; it got folded into another after he got out. I suppose if there's any military historian out there who might know which unit he may have been in, I'd appreciate that.

Though he didn't die in action, he was in the service for two distinct hitches. Happy Memorial Day, Dad.

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