Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Memories of My Father 5

Memories 1
Memories 2
Memories 3
Memories 4

Now Memories 5

I suspect that my father was ready to settle down after he got back from the war. My mother, Helen Shepherd, knew his sister Frances from Frankfort Pilgrim College, where Mom's dad taught and my Mom was finishing up college. She went home with Frances one weekend to help with the music at a "Rally Day" at my grandfather Dorsey Schenck's church.

My mother is an excellent pianist and can play most anything by ear once she gets a sense of the tune. She could also sing although she was quite shy in those days. While she was there one Sunday for Rally Day, she saw a picture of my Dad in his military uniform and the thought crossed her mind, "I wonder if I would ever date him" (even though she was kind of seeing someone else at the time). My Dad was not yet home from Germany. Not long after returning he would ask her out and after two months of dating, asked her to marry him.
Since they didn't believe in jewelry of any kind, he gave her a cedar "hope" chest as an engagement present. Mom thinks it might have been the night he asked her to marry him that she picked up the tip he left on the table and gave it to him outside, thinking that he had forgotten his change. Obviously my mother's family did not go out to eat!

For a wedding present, Dad gave her a Kimball piano.  They were married on July 9, 1947, about 4 months after they got engaged. While they were dating and some thereafter, my Dad worked for his older brother Vernon delivering cakes early in the morning. Dad always thought of Vernon as somewhat of an entrepreneur, perhaps a gift he inherited from Dorsey.

Since my Dad would be up delivering cakes at 4am in the morning, he sometimes fell asleep on dates. After they were engaged, he would fall asleep with his head on my mom's shoulder parked out in the country somewhere, maybe by some corn field. Sounds suspicious!  But knowing how innocent my mother is, I know for certain you couldn't have sold popcorn to that event.  You might, however, have easily done some research on the sounds crickets make!

He was in Indy (I think 65 now runs over where his grandfather's house was at that time), and she was in Frankfort. She didn't have a phone so he wrote letters in between visits. When they were finally married at Frankfort First Pilgrim, they had a double wedding with some friends of my mom's.  A neighbor of my Mom suggested they might save on expenses if they went in together.

The day of the wedding, my Mom felt like they needed some more flowers.  She had no car, so she walked around to some friends whom she thought had pretty flowers in their yards and asked if she could have some. By the time she got to the wedding she was so tired it was an effort to walk down the aisle.

They drove all the way to Whiteland that night, getting there about midnight. Mom's brother Paul followed them down to Dad's house to make sure they had enough money for their honeymoon. They went on for about a week in Mississippi and Louisiana, visiting one of the places he had been during the war like Fort Polk in Jackson, MI. They went on to a Pilgrim Holiness camp meeting in Pineville, Louisiana, where they were asked to sing and did.

After they got married, they set up home in the apartment over grandpa Dorsey's store. Dad helped in the store in addition to his morning routes. After the better part of a year he started working for Tasty Bread, delivering bread in the morning. This left him exhausted at times, difficult to wake up, my mom said.

They lived there for four years. During that time Patricia and Juanita were born. Then they moved to Evanston Avenue, where Sharon was born.  My mom's brother Paul was married by then and moved there as well, not far from the old Northside Pilgrim Church, whose congregation would eventually found Trinity Wesleyan in Indianapolis.

From Evanston Avenue they moved to Crestview, where Debbie was born. Then to Preston Drive on the very north edge of Indy, just south of Carmel. What was once country is now bustling and continuous city.  Each time they moved, my uncle Paul and his wife Betty moved nearby too.

I was born while they lived on Preston Drive.  I have only the faintest memories of Preston Dr., but I remember that Dad would walk with me out to a fire hydrant at the entrance and we would have deep talks. I was only three or four, but I'm sure they were deep. I would get hair cuts in that neighborhood, although my first one was in Frankfort.

When I was still four in 1971, General Motors moved my Dad to Florida, where I would grow up.  They lived in Wilton Manors, within Fort Lauderdale, until in the year 2000 they finally moved to Lakeland to be closer to family.  Patricia's husband Dennis had pastored in Lakeland since the late 70s, after being our pastor in Fort Lauderdale for a number of years in the mid-70s.

My Dad was eternally devoted to my Mom. After her back issues and then after a really rough spell she had last summer, he sometimes spent so much time thinking of her that he forgot to eat himself. He was having occasional bouts of disorientation from time to time, and no doubt forgetting to eat didn't help.

A fond memory of my step-daughter Stefanie is last year when she and a friend surprised him and my Mom.  They showed up at the front door out of the blue in Lakeland during Spring Break. My Dad had been in a deep sleep and didn't recognize her and her boyfriend at first. He was so embarrassed after he finally put it together. Mom kept saying, "Let them in, Lee. Let them in." We all had a good laugh about it afterwards, and it remains a great memory.

My Mom has commented this week how much he waited on her. Thankfully she has regained a good deal of her physical strength from last year. And her mind is sharp as a tack.

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