This is my favorite picture of my Dad. I am guessing it was made in the late 1920’s. Dad was a good man, full of humor; he provided for his family and helped others in need. It wasn’t until after his death that we heard rumors of his “sorted” past. While none of the items mentioned where horrible or devastating, it did reveal a part of him none of us ever knew.
He and his step-father did not get along and so when he was 13, he left home and “ran the roads”. During this time he lived with family and friends and sometimes just slept in someone’s barn. What we didn’t know was that his nickname was “Punk” and that he carried a short barrel 38 revolver. Sis and I would talk and wish we had a way to just check the local law enforcements records back then to see what things he got into. I have checked the Missouri Penitentiary records and know that luckily he never made it there! So maybe it was only mischief he got into? I’d like to believe that.
Some things about Dad that I knew and maybe lend some credit to achieving that nick name include:
- Stories of disassembling a farmer’s wagon and then reassembling them on top the barn.
- My Grandfather Edmonds an old coal miner and quite a drinker would often try to out drink Dad. But Dad never loss, he always was able to drink his father in-law under the table.
- He was an unbelievable pool player. I often saw him run the table giving his opponent no chance.
- He loved to gamble playing cards.
- Once at work a supervisor said something that riled him greatly and he pushed the man backwards towards a waste can. The supervisor sat into the can and then could not get out. For some reason Dad, as far as I know, was never disciplined for this.
- We would often go hunting for my “Uncle Bud” when he stayed out and Dad knew where all the good “Beer Gardens” where.
- He could/would never just outright buy a large item. Each purchase was an adventure into seeing what you could dicker for. Mom got free lamps with her living room set. We got free 8-tracks with our first stereo. I got free underwear and a new tie with a suit.
- He took me along with his drinking buddies one night to drive to Saginaw and get a gigantic roll of insulation. It was January and cold! He was in the passenger seat and I sat in the middle. In the back seat were two of his friends. All the way up there he kept the door cracked, allowing the wind to blow into the back seat. His friends complained of the cold and Dad kept telling them the heater must not be working.
- When I was about five he stayed out all night one Saturday. When he got home Mom forced him to get ready for church. All day he tried his best to get back home to go to bed, but he never made it. We went to morning services, had lunch, went shopping (ALL DAY), then attended evening services. Next morning mom had him up and ready for work. He never stayed out like that again.
When I was seven he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. While he was in the hospital recuperating, he stopped drinking, smoking, cussing and gambling. After coming home he became more active in church
Copyright Roy Richard.