10 Surprising Things about My Dad
Dad’s a character and that’s for sure. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. So many people live their lives in the middle of the road never venturing too far to either side. My dad is not one of those people. You are more likely to find him running full speed on one side of the road or the other but never, never in the middle.
A virtual legend in the city of Chula Vista you’ll often find him confiding his deepest secrets with strangers he’s just met or telling tales so tall that you’d swear that he’d heavily embellished reality. And you’d be right.
I’d thought I’d share 10 surprising things about my Dad. As funny, and sometimes strange as these things are to me, they must be even more strange and funny to people that have never met him. To know him is to begin to understand why some of these wacky things just make total sense. My dad is a creative person who sees the world much more differently than your average person.
He Rocks Harder than Anyone You Know
I was 12 at the time. I woke up and my dad had cut holes in two of our trash cans, placed speakers in them. positioned them outside his window and was blaring Black Sabbath at the absolute highest volume he could. Iron Man was blaring and echoing through the whole neighborhood. Imagine my surprise (and delight) to hear my dad being more rock and roll than even Ozzy Osborne.
I am not sure if I was more impressed by his engineering skills of creating a powerful amplification system with trash cans or the fact he was playing cool ass music out his window louder than I have ever heard in my life.
You see dad had a long running dispute with our neighbor who used to blast his buzz saw out early in the morning and wake the neighborhood up. My dad was fighting fire with fire or in this case, fighting buzz saws with satanic heavy metal music. The police eventually came and made us turn off the music but I must admit I got my first rock and roll lesson from my dad.
Incidentally, years later I used to put my guitar amps out of my dorm room window at St Mary’s College and play Van Halen licks on my guitar. I suppose I adopted that technique from my dad.
My dad does not play trumpet because they don’t rock hard enough.
His Donut Skills Are Beyond your Realm of Comprehension
We had 12 kids in our family. We used to sit around a big table on Sunday mornings and watch my dad methodically cut up a donut into 12 pieces, place it on a plate and then pass the plate from kid to kid, letting us each take 1 piece of donut. When the plate made it’s way all around the big table, we would watch him cut up another donut into 12 pieces and start the process again.
The process would continue until all 12 donuts were gone. We each eventually got what amounted to a whole donut it just took 12 trips around the table to get it. This was not the most efficient way to eat a donut but for some reason it worked.
This is a donut cut into 12 pieces. I will hazard to guess that you have never seen this before.
He Pays Taxi Drivers with Chickens
I woke up one morning and ran outside to check on our pet chicken “Eggatha” only to find that she was not there. She would never wander far. She was chicken. Chickens are not great adventurers that pick up their little chicken belongings to explore the world. They generally just peck at dirt and occasionally poop on dirt.
Later that day when we asked my dad about it he claimed that the chicken ran away. I was heartbroken and literally ran outside and shed tears. There was a brief moment I wasn’t sure how I could live the rest of my life without Eggatha there. The feeling soon passed and so did the years.
When I turned 17 I learned the shocking truth and it was even stranger than a chicken running away from its home. It turns out that after a night at the local pub my dad needed a cab ride home. Upon arriving home, he discovered he had no money to pay the cab driver. Being ever the resourceful fellow he went into the backyard, grabbed the chicken and convinced the cab driver to take the chicken in exchange for fare.
I am not sure if I was more shocked at our dad for giving away our beloved chicken or at the cab driver for taking it as payment. In any case, “paying with chickens” has become part of my daily vocabulary now.
Dad used to pile all 12 of us in the car and take us to Knott’s Berry Farm for a dish of Rhubarb
He is Prone to Tell Egregious Stories to Make Someone Feel Good
My dad is prone to embellishing stories. This is particularly true if he happened to be at his favorite bar – The Colony House which happened to be the case one infamous evening.
As my sister tells it, she had just finished up a date with a guy and told him that she was only interested in him as friends. The guy was heartbroken and let my dad know this as he left our house.
My dad is always on the look-out for a willing ear and this heartbroken young lad seemed to be a guaranteed easy listener. So my dad offered to take him to his favorite bar for a few drinks. After several drinks my dad confided in the lad that my sister was “only being stand-offish” because she was terminally ill with cancer and expected only to live a matter of weeks. My dad wanted the man not to feel so bad. It wasn’t him at all. It was my sister, not wanting to reveal the horrible truth and hurt this young guy.The story of course was blatantly false but that did not stop my dad from carrying it through to the fullest extent.
The night progressed, and of course they cried together for hours and over several more drinks, lamenting what was soon to be a world without someone they loved. The tears soon turned to big plans to somehow help Kathy during her final days. The young man vowed that he would make Kathy’s last two weeks on earth memorable.
My sister was awoken early the next morning by my mother who advised Kathy that a young man was at the door waiting for her. She got to the door and was greeted by the guy she had just let down the night before.
He got on one knee and proposed to her and told her he knew everything and that he did not care. He wanted to live life to the fullest and make sure all her wildest dreams came true – even if it was only for two weeks.
Dad is prone to heavy embellishments during story-telling (a typical Irish Trait that he has mastered)
He Claims (at Times) that His Father is Sing Lee a Chinese Immigrant that Settled in New York in 1940
My dad is Irish. He could not pass for Chinese even in the darkest of rooms but at times he has been known to brag about his Chinese Father – Sing Lee. Sing Lee owned a laundromat near his home in the Bronx and he had given my dad a job at some point.
Apparently, as he tells it, Sing Lee taught him how to fight (using Kung Fu of course) and it came in quite handy growing up on the streets of New York. A few swift Karate Chops in the air are often added in to prove his point.
My dad had great admiration for Sing Lee
He Once Drove 5 Miles Backwards to Sell his Car When It Would Not Go Into Drive
My dad hates tow trucks. He does not believe they are necessary. There is no finer display of ingenuity than the time when he made the 5 mile trek from his home to the car dealer backwards in his car to avoid having it towed. The car would not kick into drive so he merely put the car in reverse and made the drive apparently ducking up and down side streets to avoid police detection. Two things happened that day that made him happy. He sold the car. He did not have to pay a tow truck driver. Mission accomplished.
My dad did not let a faulty transmission stop him from getting his broken down station wagon to the the car dealer sans tow truck. This google map collage retraces his backward joy ride to the dealer.
He Fooled an Entire City with an Outlandish Story and Launched a Business that generated millions
My dad gathered my mom and few belongings and headed From New York out to California with nothing more than gas money in the early 1960’s. With nothing to speak of beyond a great deal of creativity and an knack for story-telling he built a small mission style building with a bell on top and proceeded to generate enormous New York style publicity with an outlandish tale of a historic bell that stood atop the building. NewsPapers from all over San Diego County flocked and gave him free publicity. The business went on to generate millions over the years and still stands there to this day supporting several families. The agency he built is CSS Insurance – The Best and Most Affordable Insurance in San Diego if your in the market by the way.
Dad claimed Old #12 (the bell on top of his business) had roots back to the California Gold Rush
He Drives 100% of the Time with his Hazard Lights On
I usually do not condone over-use of Hazard Lights on the road but in the case of my dad I will make an exception. To my dad, Hazard lights are way of saying both “Hello World, Here I am” and “Watch Out World I’m Coming Through”. You can imagine how helpful this non-verbal cue can be on the road. Keep an eye out for him. He still rolls hard in a pimpin Caddie at 82 years of age.
At one point my dad decided to keep the hazard lights on full time and has never looked back.
He Once Fed A Chicken Whiskey and Taught The Old Bird to Fight
Dad insisted that if we were to have a pet chicken than the chicken would be raised to be Irish. In keeping with that, Eggatha did not have your traditional chicken type lifestyle. In fact one day she hopped up on the table and began to drink up whiskey by pecking at it.
Within minutes sweet Eggatha had transformed from sweet lovable Eggatha into an angry drunk chicken. She lashed out us, pecking and scratching. We ran from the table in fear and she was left alone to continue her drunken escapades through the night. We never let her hit the sauce again after that.
Dad once drove all 12 us down from the mountains in the pitch black of night in sunglasses because he forgot his reading glasses. At times he had rely on verbal directions shouted to him from us in the back seat.
He has 36 Children and GrandChildren and Counting
Maybe the most surprising thing of all is just how many people are living here on this world thanks to him. At present moment he fathered 12 Children of his own Grandfathered another 24. Now that is quite an accomplishment and maybe the most surprising of all.
The fact is that each and everyone of us has a list of favorite stories about our dad.We laugh a lot about our dad’s stories because mostly we realize that there is a part of his quirky side that each of us has as well. There is a book to be written here somewhere about one of the most original and unique people to walk the earth.
This is our table that we all sat around each night. We ate dinner together every night and said prayers around this table before going to bed. This was a routine.
An old family portrait with most us in younger years.
Thank you for reading the blog. We have hundreds of more and similar stories of dad, if you would like to read more, let me know and we’ll come up with another post.