Friday, January 18, 2008

Jiggs

The cute little guy in the glasses is my dad, Jiggs. In 1930 when he was 8 years old, his picture was in the paper because he wore a tie to school. His teacher let him skip 2nd grade, telling him him he was very smart. He adored her because of it. She gave him confidence in his intellect and that encouraged him to shoot for the stars.

Dad loved to tell the story of his college GPA. He got drafted in WWII, and left school without withdrawing from his classes. This resulted in a semester of E's (which I assume were like F's.) He came home from the war anxious to go to Optometry School, but in order to have the GPA to apply, he had to get perfect grades for two years. He did.

(This story was supposed to demonstrate that I, too, could get perfect grades. I didn't.)


Here's Jiggs with his brothers. The oldest one died when he was 18. Dad was 16, but he talked about Alan for the rest of his life. Although Dad was self assured and confident in most situations, sickness, hospitals, funerals and visiting cemeteries caused panic for him. I think it was because of this early, heartbreaking experience with death.

This is Jiggs at ten. He was one of those guys who walked fifteen miles to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, so some of his stories had a touch of exaggeration to them. (A trait I am happy to have inherited.) His family was poor, and he said he worked from the time he was three. I guess people weren't too picky about age requirements then. Anyway, by the time he was eight years old, he had a regular job at the Country Club, carrying the rich men's golf clubs. He learned to golf as a caddy, and he loved the game. Our houses always had a putting green in the backyard, planted with special grass. His dream was to build a golf course. And he did!

Dad is the one with sunglasses, standing with Arnold Palmer (in the red sweater,) who designed the golf course, and then came back to hit the first ball off the first tee, on the first day the course opened. (Dee is the cute black haired boy on the right.)

Nine years ago today we celebrated Dad's last birthday as a family in his hospital room. We had guitars and sat around singing all his favorite songs. That might have been the last day he was happy. He found out he had cancer the next day, and died not quite three months later.

Jiggs was the eternal optimist. He loved to work, and he loved to play. He was a fun guy, who played Glenn Miller tunes on the piano, and sang all the old songs with a beautiful baritone voice. He was a dedicated son, a doting husband, and a devoted dad. He plucked chickens for pennies as a boy, but owned a tennis club, a golf course and a basketball team as a man. He taught by example that dreams can come true. I'm thinking of you today, Dad!



15 comments:

Annie said...

Great photos and stories...a sweet tribute to your dad.

The picture with his brothers reminds me of the sledding scene in It's A Wonderful Life.

MissKris said...

A lovely tribute, Marty. I wish I could've met your dad.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Wow, has it really been nine years? I only knew your dad for a short period of time, but felt loved and teased (probably the same thing, right?). He was a great man.

Bridget said...

What a sweet tribute. How lucky for your kids that you are writing all these things down. They will be priceless treasures for years to come.

Ashlee said...

Sounds like he was truly a great man. Love the pictures.

marta said...

happy happy birthday gramps! thanks for the nice tribute..

Lillie Ammann said...

Your tribute to your dad brought both a smile to my face and tears to my eyes at different points. Thanks for sharing.

gab said...

I miss him so much! He was bigger than life and always so fun.

Doesn't he look just like Benji in those early photos?

Thanks for remembering him today. I will show my kids the photos.

Kay Dennison said...

A wonderful tribute to your dad! Quite an accomplished gentleman he was.

mama jo said...

that was a great tribute to dad...happy birthday..

the hogan's said...

Thanks for this Marty...I miss him! He really does look like Benj when he was young! Happy birthday gramps!

Joy Des Jardins said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post about your dad Marty. Wonderful pictures...what a special tribute to a pretty terrific guy.

whit said...

Happy Birthday Gramps!! That choked me up Marty, you said all the perfect things.

Polly said...

I loved the pictures- dad was one of a kind and I have the pleasure of having Benji come over to my house fairly often. I always make him play the piano (doing his Giggs imitation). He's got it down to perfection.

Rebecca said...

What a wonderful way to remember your dad.