Michael Charles Stone was my dad.
He always wanted a boy child. I was the "last child" for eleven years until my brother was born. So Dad and I did "boy" things together. There was Sundays at Palm Beach Speedway (still love racing), Thursday nights were wrestling matches, Friday nights were boxing matches (we always sat by the entrance from the dressing rooms so I could shake hands with all the wrestlers and boxers). Several evenings we watched sports on television (black and white back in the 1950s). I was my dad’s “channel turner”; no remotes in those days.
I was originally suppose to be a boy and my name was going to be Robert (became my cousin’s name two years later), so being a girl I was named and called Barbara early in my life. Dad, however, called me “Boy” (think there was a little of wishful thinking showing through?). Later in life when I would call home he yell to my mother “The Boy is on the phone”.
Where my mom was every bit a lady, dad was the rogue, a bad boy type. Maybe that was their attraction. I got my crazy, reckless behavior from him.
Dad was always doing the reckless, unusual and un-expectant things. When it got busy and stressful at our family restaurant, Dad would yell out “the kitchen is closed, let the dancing begin”. He’d then take my mother in his arms and waltz her around and between the tables. Our customers would smile and clap in pleasure. Soon, the dancing relieved the stress and Dad would announce, “OK, folks, the kitchen is opened again. What will you have?”
Dad liked his corn-cob pipe with fragrant smelling cherry flavored tobacco. He also liked his Ballantine Ale. Oh, yes, it was the only thing that quenched his thirst when he worked up a sweat in front of the hot grill and stoves.
I was very much a daddy’s “boy”….more like his “mini me”. I adored my dad!!! He talked to me as an equal, always philosophizing about life and preaching his brand of life lessons. He would start off every time with “Always remember, Babinka…………”. I listened and learned and use them still today at age 70.
Dad was ethical, extremely honest, a jokester, empathetic and extremely giving. I remember how he’d send me out of the restaurant to invite a hitchhiker to come in for something to eat; or he’d put a ham sandwich in a brown bag and send me out to give it to a hitchhiker. Those invited for supper were allowed to sweep the floor, because Dad said you always need to give a person their dignity and sweeping floor was the hitchhiker’s way of paying for their meal….not taking a handout.
I was raised in southern Florida. Back in the 1940’s and 50’s Florida was still segregated, but blacks were always welcomed to eat at our restaurant. Unfortunately Dad didn’t think he could feed blacks inside the restaurant because of the controversy it would cause. So we had a nice table set up behind the restaurant which was enclosed with a nice hedge and Dad served blacks there complete with a candle sometimes. Another lesson….everyone is equal…treat every person with respect….
Another lesson, anyone older than you is called Mr., Mrs, or Miss no matter what color or nationality. It is a simply a sign of respect. I forget my age at times and still call folks sir or mame when I first meet them.
That is my dad….thanks for letting me reminisce and telling you about my dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
Remember, you are loved…..all of you!