Why I am a Christian Part II

Thursday, January 3, 2013

High School Part IX - Senior Year and the Kennedy Assassination


I had just sat down for my 4th period health class, just after lunch, when an announcement came over the intercom that president Kennedy was shot while on a visit to Dallas Texas. Over the next several minutes announcements came in over the intercom that he was doing well and that he was in surgery. The bell rang at the end of Health class and we moved to our next class, for me English. The halls were silent gone was the usual chatter of teenagers. All talk was in hushed whispers some were crying most were in shock. Shortly after I got to English class we learned that the President was dead.  The date November 23, 1964 the day John F Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald a day I’ll never forget and a day that changed my life forever.

The change didn't take place immediately but over the course of the next several years. But that day I started looking at the world with a set of different eyes.  Over the next several days we watched as the nation mourned. I saw the president shot over and over again each time with a commentator explaining what I was seeing. I saw Jack Ruby on live television kill Oswald. Then we were shown both the assignation and Oswald’s killing again and again in slow motion as the news men explained what we saw as if we were too stupid to see and understand for ourselves what had happened. We watch the funeral and mourned with the First Family and little John I remember my mother crying softly as we watched.  

They called it Camelot, we know now it wasn't but then it was, and we believed it. The Kennedy’s were America’s family. We rejoiced over them and cried with them when Patrick was still born. We laughed with them, I still have my First Family Album by Vaughn Meter. Finally we mourned with them. In many ways I believe my generation still mourns Kennedy’s assassination. 

Little did I know how much Kennedy’s assignation was to effect my life and the lives of millions of others around the world. Our whole family watched on live television as Linden Johnson was sworn in as President. My mother the wonderful naive positive woman that she was said that Johnson would be able to get all of Kennedy’s programs passed because he had great influence in the congress. She was right Johnson did pass a whole lot of legislation. Up to the Vietnam War Johnson was considered a great president by my family and most democrats. But after the Gulf of Ton-kin Resolution his popularity would slide. Yet, between November 1963 and November 1965 my life went on as though nothing had happened. 

As my high school years started to draw to a close I started to realize that I had very few options upon graduation. My grades barred me from college, not that college ever entered my mind. I was the son of a blue collar working man and other than graduating from high school continuing my education never entered my mind. I believed then my future was the factory and maybe a trade school but college… no way! My dad often talked of “college boys” and how stupid they were when it came to the factory floor. It was a class arrogance that still permeates our society today. Working men knew how to get things done while college boys only had theory. It wasn't that education was frowned upon it just wasn't pushed as a means to a good future for me.  Dad kept pushing me to learn a trade something, some skill that would make me valuable to my employer. He told me many times that being a trade’s man allowed him to earn a living throughout hard times.

My grandfather had worked for Electromotive and had pension after he retired. Most of my uncles were blue collar and union men. Often the discussions around the kitchen table revolved around being in the trades and learning a trade. Dad went into an apprenticeship program at the age of 40 to learn how to be a machinist at Union Carbide.  He attended night school over the course of his four year apprenticeship program to learn higher mathematics and took other necessary courses so he could become a journeyman at his trade. He was so proud when he finished the apprenticeship program.  

As I became more aware of who and what I was, as most kids do during high school, I realized that my future was not going to be in Dolton with my family and extended family. I instinctively knew that for me to become anything but a general factory worker I had to leave and get out on my own. I also knew that my options were severely limited. My grades in high school were about average; I failed some classes, I had to attend summer school twice for math, and did well in others. But nothing that qualified me for college. I had no interest in cars or the trades so my going to trade school wasn't going to happen.  

As with most young men in the early 60's if you didn't go to college or into a trade school or apprenticeship program you got drafted. I knew the military was in my future. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to chart my own course after graduation. So late in the summer of 1964 while my parents and sister were on vacation I had my number for the draft moved up.  I didn't want my mother to know I would be going away especially into the military so moving up my number was a way to do it without her knowing it was my choice.  I wanted to go after my birthday so I selected November as the date I would go. My plan was to enlist after getting my draft notice.  I had no way of knowing it then but going into the military was going to change my life forever in ways I could never imagine.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System High School Part VIII


My First Real Job/I get close with my dad:

Late in my sophomore year at Thornridge my dad’s company Union Carbide went on strike. Dad believed a man was not a man if he wasn’t working. Dad needed to work, so after his time on the picket line he looked for a job. The job he found was to change his and my life.  It was a small hot water heater company was looking for a machinist and dad got the job. I remember him telling me, “I was honest with him. I told him we were on strike and that all I could promise was eight hours work for eight hours pay.”   

TETCO Metal Products was a small plant that made hot water heaters in Riverdale. When the strike ended dad stayed on at TETCO and worded weekends and evenings for several years. He dearly loved working at TETCO. I often wondered what it was about TETCO that made him so happy. Looking back it, TETCO gave him a place where he could use all his skills and intelligence. It gave him a deep pride in his work a pride he never got at his union job at Carbide. In fact he worked harder at TETCO than at his full time job. I think the reason for this was Carbide was a job he had to have and TETCO was the job he wanted.  TETCO also gave him something he needed desperately, respect.    

Right or wrong dad never believed he was loved or respected by our extended family. He felt he was always being put down and that he was not really wanted.  I believe he may have been partially right.  I obtained his military medical records and personal file after he passed away. What I found has helped me to understand his feelings.  I often felt the same way growing up and his records helped to validate my own feelings as well, at least in part. Growing up it seemed as if Dad and I were always a step behind and to the left of our extended family. Very often especially in my younger years I felt mom had some resentment toward me. It was one of those feelings that made no sense.  Growing up I always felt loved but also felt some unease on the periphery of my consciousness. 

Often during my sophomore and early junior years I would walk from1530 University Ave down Greenwood road the four or five miles to TETCO to visit with dad. Sometimes I would hop a freight heading to the freight yards in Dolton. The tracks ran the west side of Greenwood Road. I’ll never forget my first hop. I had just crossed Sibley Boulevard and was walking down Greenwood when I saw the slow moving freight train. It was going just a little faster than I was walking. I remembered old movies where hobos often hopped the freight and sat in empty boxcars. I ran across the road and started trotting alongside the train. Then with a boyish sense of adventure I grabbed the ladder going up the side of the boxcar I was running alongside and I was riding my way into Dolton.  It brought me less than a half a block from TETCO, neat! Hoping freight became my means of transportation to visit dad until I got my license to drive.  

Being with dad as he was working, seeing him creating something out of a block of steel and the joy he had in doing a job well greatly impacted me. My dad had no union at TETCO but he did have skill and a joy in doing a good job. As a result he was valuable to Mr. Teters who paid him well and gave him more and more responsibility within the plant. My dad had something Mr. Teters wanted and my dad was happy to sell his knowledge and ability to Mr. Teters at a good price. I remember my dad letting me run a milling machine and bringing the cut to within 1/1000 of an inch.  He showed me how to use a set of calipers to make measurements and a feeler gauge.  One night I visited him and he showed me how to use a me use a spot welder then gave me two pieces of metal to weld together. Another night he showed me how to use a welder and weld using a welding rod by “carrying a bead” down two pieces of steel. The more I saw my dad work using various trades he had learned over the years the more it hit me that the more you know the more you are worth.

In my junior year dad got me a job as a janitor at the plant. I was to work his hours and he would be my supervisor. Mr. Teters and my dad showed me around the places I would have to clean. It looked fairly easy until we walked into the workers locker room. It was a room that would inspire revulsion in the most hardened janitor. Too say it was filthy, dirty and gross would be an understatement. As we walked into the locker room we passed eight commodes. Each more gross than the other. It was like someone had purposely spread feces over the porcelain parts of the bowl. Used toilet paper lay on the floor evidently some people are so lazy putting toilet paper in the bowl is too hard.

The locker room itself was filled with dirty pictures and magazines, for me the only good part of the whole thing. My dad saw my revulsion and smiled. Later, when Mr. Teters left for the day dad found me cleaning one of the offices. He took me to the men’s locker room and gave me one of the most valuable lessons of my life. “Do the hardest job first and remember” he said with a smile, “you can always wash your hands and shower after work, and it looks like you’ll need too." he went on, "Remember you are here on my recommendation don’t let me down.” Then he showed me the best way to clean the locker room, a power hose, rubber gloves, strong cleaning solution and a long handled brush. I’m proud to say when I was done the locker room and commodes never looked so clean. Neither did the offices and break areas. Throughout the first night dad kept coming to check on me telling me how to best do the work and making sure it was done properly.  After the first night except for an end of shift inspection he left me alone. 

Over the next several weeks the complements started to come, “This is the cleanest the locker room has ever been.” It amazed me that the men actually started to clean up after themselves. The locker room still needed cleaning and the power hose was more than useful but as long as I kept it really clean they helped to keep it that way. It was the same in the break areas and in the offices.

As I got better at cleaning I got done quicker. Leaving me a couple of hours a night to do my homework my grades started to improve as a result. Working and the complements of doing a good job gave me confidence; confidence inspired me in other areas.  I was changing. More important I was growing closer to my dad than ever before. We were not just father and son anymore, he was my supervisor, my mentor but more we were actually becoming confidants. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

High School Part VII


In the summer 1960 we converted from being non-denominational to Roman Catholicism. We took our instruction at St. Jude in South Holland. St. Jude had a young priest for the youth and an older priest, Father Naughton who was the lead pastor. I was taught about the church by Father Naughton a very down to earth priest. He taught me so well and had such an influence on me that he was the reason for my leaving the church in 1970. I really liked the Catholic Church of the early 1960s. It still had the Latin mass, The Pope was still infallible and people believed it. The Church condemned movies and books that were deemed as not appropriate for Christians. There was holiness about the way the mass was celebrated especially on high holy days. The three hour fast for food and the one hour fast for water before communion made communion even to a young man holy and meaningful. There was a morality and hope that appealed to me as a young man who was struggling with all those wonderful things teenage boys struggle with becoming men. The church was a rock something stable and unchanging in my life.

Father Naughton taught me that the church was traditional and historic. It could trace its lineage back to Peter the apostle who Roman Catholics revere as the first Pope. He taught me that the Catholic Church was the true church because it was the same yesterday as it is today and that God and His Church are unchangeable. Right is always right and wrong is always wrong. I was enthralled with something holy that could trace its origins all the way back to Jesus. At the time it seemed very logical that the Roman Church was the true church. Being a lover of history the Church’s celebrating the mass the same way for over a thousand years was very special to me. I was taking part in history and in something holy.  I was taught that as long as I went to confession and communion my sins would be forgiven after proper heart felt penance. It gave me a sense of hope that after being cleansed in purgatory I’d make it to heaven as would all baptized Catholics.

Those of us who attended public school had to attend High School of Religion at Saint Jude. High School of Religion taught about the inner workings of the Roman Catholic Church, the saints, what the mass really meant and well everything we would need to know to be good Catholics. We were taught that confession, a good act of contrition and penance followed by communion gave us a clean slate. The idea came to us that we could date on Friday night then go to confession on Saturday night do an act of contrition and penance then take communion on Sunday. Too our way of thinking what happened on Friday night could be confessed on Saturday and then on Sunday after communion we were good to go again until Friday night. The idea that all we had to do was confess, do penance and our sins were forgiven was to us the neatest thing. Every week we would have a clean slate!

It’s not that I dated much at all but I did have a couple of dates and boys will be boys.  When we dated we were after a “home run”. We as I’m sure most teenage boys do use baseball as a way of bragging about how far we got on a date. Most of us never hit a home run and getting to second or third was in our dreams only. Yet, if we even got to second we knew it was a sin so all we had to do was confess it and move on and hope next week the confession would be better. As far as I was concerned church was a matter of faith and mechanics. Sin then go to confession, perform penance, go to communion and have a clean slate, rinse and repeat. Perfect for a guy like me trying to get away with sinning and yet get to heaven. 

I was still having problems in school but not nearly as much as in grade and junior high. I even had the courage to fight a couple of times I lost one and almost one, one. My self-image was improving but I was still lacked confidence but I was slowing changing. Bullies mostly were in gym class and sometimes in the hallway and in study hall. Much of it could be avoided by being alert. In many ways being bullied and having to be on alert all the time in school saved me in Vietnam where being aware and on alert could mean life or death.  

I even stood up to some of the bullies once and even backed them down. I was always taught that girls and woman were to be respected. There was one girl who was being picked on they were calling her names and being very cruel to her. It was a beautiful spring day and we were eating our lunch in the courtyard between buildings. They started to pick on her calling her Cheetah, they made her cry. I don’t know why but I found myself telling them to leave her alone. It must have been the way I said it because they did. I may have paid for that later in gym class I don’t remember but looking back I think it was the confidence and knowing that I was more than willing to fight for her that moved them away. Sometimes it is not our ability but the confidence we show in it that really matters.

I as I mentioned before I was not the best student especially when it came to math and algebra both were required for graduation. I was so bad that I had to attend summer school twice.  I failed because I just didn’t like to study mathematics or algebra. Being a little slow I didn’t learn the secret of doing what you don’t like first to be done with it. So for two summers I had to ride my bike to Thornton about ten miles away for summer school. Dad and mom wanted to make a point, “You failed now you have to go to summer school and I’m not taking you. Ride your bike or walk but you get there and you better pass.” I remember they took some heat from some in the family, “You’re being too hard on him.” they said but I thank God that I had parents who loved me enough to make me uncomfortable. It was hard to ride my bike or find my own way to summer school but in the end it taught me a valuable lesson. I didn't learn the lesson quickly, (having to go to summer school twice) but I learned, there are consequences to failure, so don’t fail.     

Looking back my high school experiences, being in a small business making and selling bikes, cutting grass and washing cars, snow shoveling driveways and sidewalks taught me the value of working hard. Having to get myself to summer school taught me that poor decisions have a price and I am responsible for my poor decisions. These were the seeds of my later political beliefs.                   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unexamined Belief System Politics Part VI High School


High School Years

In the spring of 1961 we moved into a rented apartment at 15030 University in Dolton. Though it seemed we lived at 111 Street for years it was only a summer, fall and winter and part of a spring. The apartment on University was very nice it had two bedrooms a master bedroom and a smaller bedroom. My dad cut the master bedroom in half so my sister and I could share it. Once she got of a certain age I was moved out into the dining room. Girls after all need their privacy.

The apartment was within walking distance from Thornridge so in rain, snow, bitter cold and 90 plus degree heat I walked to school. There was never a thought of getting a ride from mom and certainly not dad. After all walking is how they got to school, “Why when I was your age I had to walk through knee deep snow to school wearing nothing but galoshes and an old winter coat.” There were of course variations to the story. Substitute rain for snow, or add in bitter cold or heat. 

Most days walking to school was enjoyable, a chance to meet up with friends and talk. Days when it snowed we had snowball fights on the way. When it rained or was too cold or too snowy we just toughed it out, we didn't melt or get sick. Now the very idea of walking to school in inclement weather is unthinkable. That rite of passage is gone for the most part. We do everything to protect our children from even the littlest hurt or inconvenience. Just riding a bike requires a helmet, arm pads and knee pads. We never would consider wearing those things when I was young. Getting hurt, cut, scraped and bloodied was a badge of honor especially for boys.

We live in a very hard and sometimes very cruel world. Those who cannot adapt or who are weak will not survive. Nor will a nation that is made up of weak people who are looking to be taken care of. We as a nation are rapidly losing our ability to care for ourselves. We are constantly looking to the government to solve problems we should be solving ourselves. If we continue to give up our freedom to be taken care of we will soon lose all of our freedoms and like those in North Korea singing the praises of our Great Leader who cares for us.

If there was one thing we knew in my father’s house it was respect for our elders, period end of conversation. If our parents told us to do something we did it or suffered the consequences. My dad use to say, “My children may not love me but they WILL respect me.” In the end I both loved and respected my dad and mom. I thank them for giving me the self-discipline to succeed in life. Without their teaching I could never have done or accomplished anything. My dad taught me that if I wanted something I would have to work for it. That teaching has led me to places I could never have gone or have hoped to have gone. Hard work  and education always leads to a better life.

Living on University Avenue was to be some of the best times of my life. The bulling at Thornridge was in many respects easier to take. There were three of us who didn't fit in with any group and we became friends. It’s easier to go through hard times with friends. One summer day we were fixing our bikes in an old shed by the garage and one of us suggested building bikes and selling them. The next day we went to the Dolton dump and searched through the garbage for bike parts. We found plenty. One man’s junk another man’s treasure.

Two days later we sold our first bike for $35 and our bike business was born. We used the old shed by the garage as our workshop. Throughout the summer we would take the parts from the dump and build a bike out of them and sell it. We got the frames and parts for free and sold most of our bikes at a $35 profit. We got so good at putting bikes together we could build two or three bikes a week easily. We advertised in the Shopper a local paper especially made for buying and selling unwanted or unneeded items. It was free and our only source of advertising.  

We all came from working class families and were taught that if we wanted money we had to earn it. We had pride in being self-sufficient in earning our own money. The bike shop was just one of the things we did. We had a grass cutting, car and window washing and general cleanup business. Every Saturday during the school year when the weather was nice and every day, almost, during summer vacation we went house to house offering to cut grass, wash cars and so on. We made very good money sometime over a hundred dollars a day to be divided among three of us. Because we all worked together we were able to wash several cars and cut several lawns a day. We even had areas set aside. On Monday we worked one area then on Tuesday another and so on. We instinctively knew not to work the same area every day.   

We loved winter especially really snowy winters. We would go door to door offering to shovel driveways and sidewalks.  Very often we made well over a hundred dollars a night. This was before the advent of snow blowers in every garage. Many men didn't want to shovel snow after a hard day’s work. Many times we would be walking by a man shoveling and get a job without asking. The three of us could shovel several houses during a three or four hour period.


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System - Politics Part V High School



I graduated Junior High School in May 1960. Shortly after graduation we moved to Roseland, a suburb of Chicago. We lived in a coal heated third floor walk-up that was built in the late 1920's early 1930's. Every morning when it was cold I had to go down to the basement and take care of the furnace to get the coal burning and every night before bed I had to go to the basement to bank the fire so it wouldn't go out.  

Our apartment was located at 111 street just a couple of blocks from where I started school when I was five. It was like coming home to one of the happiest time of my early life. I walked right past my old house on the way to catch the bus to Dolton where I would catch the school bus to Thornridge. After school I would get off the school bus and catch the city bus home. I liked the anonymity of attending school in this way. I didn't have time for anyone to come to know me. There were no after school functions for me to attend I was a slave to the bus and I loved it. We used my aunt's address in Dolton so I could attend high school out of district.

My living at 111 street only lasted a couple of months.  Someone reported that I was not living in district as a result I had to move in with my uncle and aunt. So I could show I had an address in Dolton and was actually living there. I made some friends and was able to hang out with them rather than go home to Roseland immediately after school. I played “sandlot” football and other sports. High school was going to be great, or so I thought at the time. But one of the first lessons of life was soon to hit me right between the eyes was “You can run, you can move but in the end no matter where you go there YOU are.” Even though I was able to fake it for a time that kid that was bullied, who lacked confidence and who was afraid to fight was still with me and he was going to come out.

My parents thought there was nothing wrong with what we were doing i.e., me attending school in Dolton while living in Roseland. After all we were going to move to Dolton soon and they didn't want me to have to switch schools. Looking back over the course of my life I have realized this was the first contradiction of which I was aware and it helped to set my life’s course.  On the one hand we as low – middle income Democrats and strong union members believed the government was there to protect us, solve our problems, and help us when we fell on hard times. The government was also to keep the wealthy and corporations in line. However, when government rules were inconvenient we had no problem in bending them to fit our personal needs. Just like the privileged who were condemned for doing the same thing. It was an unspoken belief that if we, who were poor needed something and could get it be bending the rules so what! We had two standards one for regular people and one the wealthy and influential.  The one trait that seems prevalent in people is the double standard.  I have worked hard not to have one especially when it comes to people and politics. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System Politics Part IV

Being a poor student and being bullied

I attended Union Center grade school it was in many ways the best of times and the worst of times for me. There were two classes to one room and one teacher to two classes. We had recess in the morning for about fifteen minutes and an hour for lunch then recess in the afternoon. The school was set on a hill where sledding was great in the winter, we used cardboard and sleds we brought from home to slide down the hill, it was wonderful. Behind the school was a wooded area and we made lean-too's along the back fence. It could be bitterly cold and inside the lean-to it was as warm as toast. There was no such thing as being too cold to go out for recess.

There was an old red barn on school property where a farmer kept his tractor and such. We use to go behind the barn for boy things like smoking or at least trying too smoke. Everyone smoked then and boys being boys we had to try it. Like father like son. I was an average student for my first three years at Union Center I had friends and life was for the most part good, then came the kids from Wheeler.

When I entered fifth grade the kids from Wheeler came to our school and with them came three bullies, I'll call them Larry, Moe and Curley, (The nice thing about writing is you get to name your characters). Larry and Moe were brothers and Curley was their running buddy they took an immediate dislike to me. Over the next four years they would make my life a living hell. Yet through it all, although I didn't know it at the time they were making me into a strong willed self sufficient person and toughening me for the trials that lay ahead. But at the time the bulling not only affected my school work and life at school it also affected my home life and life with my extended family. The effect was in many ways devastating and in some ways still effects my relationships.

Yet in the end, I would not trade that time for anything. Looking back on all they did to me the telephone calls, urinating in my gym shoes, getting beaten up and all the harassment at school only served to make me stronger. In the end they were their own victims and I became the man I am today in part because of them and in part in spite of them.

I went back to Union Center the late 1990's or early 2000's to speak at the school for Veterans Day. When I walked into the school the school secretary remembered me from grade and junior high school. She informed that Larry had been arrested as a peeping tom and did some time in jail, Moe had been in jail but had turned his life around and now had a family and Curley could be found at the local tavern in Wheeler just about every day, he was a drunk. I really wanted to feel good about it but I felt sad. They too had been a victim of their own bulling.  While they got away with things in school in the end life and the law of return caught up with them. What goes around, comes around. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Unexamined Belief System- Politics Part III

Growing Up in the 50's 

While I was growing up I remember my dad working two sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Today, that would be unheard of, a man working two or three jobs while the wife stayed home and took care of the house and children but not back then. My dad believed very strongly a man to be a man must provide for his family. Though mom did occasionally work to get us over the rough spots she was mostly a mom to my sister and I. I remember coming home from school getting off the bus and running into the house to be greeted by mom. She would usually have some kind of snack ready for me, ask me if I had homework and then send me out to play until supper time. On cold or rainy days I could watch television, Mickey Mouse Club was my favorite.

There was a stability then. Each of us had our jobs Dad worked and "put food on the table, clothing on your back and a roof over your head." Mom took care of my sister and I this included being both doctor and nurse when we were sick. We didn't go to the doctor unless we were really, really sick. Mom also took care of canning our vegetables and berries and such for winter, did the laundry, cleaned the house, took my sister and I where ever we needed to go. We each had jobs and her's was to run the household, dad's was to work and ours was to do what we were told, period end of conversation. We were the children not little adults. They told us we didn't tell them. Mom and Dad taught us how to talk with respect to other people especially adults, who were called sir or  ma'am or Mr. or Mrs. there were no first names used toward adults.

I am often amazed at how parents are told by their children what to do. I would never have gotten away with that when I was a child nor as a teenager. My parents had a simple rule, "my house, my rules." very simple and to the point. As a result of those rules I never got in trouble as a child. My dad never had to bail me out of jail. Why? Because I both feared him and respected him and my mom. He was the authority figure in our house. I remember so often mom saying, "Wait until your father gets home." and living in fear of 3:30 P. M. when he would usually walk in the door. One time, I was sixteen as I recall, mom said, something and I said, "What are you going to tell me, 'wait until your father gets home?', out from the bedroom came my father. He said, "She won't have too!" He grabbed my shirt just under my chin then proceeded to lift me up off my feet. He said, "I don't care how you talk to your mother, BUT NEVER TALK TO MY WIFE THAT WAY!" each word was punctuated with a short jab to my chin with the hand with which he had grasped my shirt he made his point that way word by word. For as long as my parents were alive I never again disrespected my mother. Later he told me I turned white as a sheet when he walked out the door. I have no reason to doubt it. He scared the hell out of me literally.

We had a strong family where respect was demanded and earned. Children were children and had no say in what adults wanted or did. Unless we were asked we were not allowed an opinion, well we had opinions but we learned to hold our tongue early in life. There was a comfort in knowing mom and dad were in charge. I and my sister had a feeling that as long as they were there everything would be all right.  This feeling lasted up to and included the day my father passed away. There was something about him that demanded my respect and that made me feel as long as he was there everything would be all right. With all his faults and he had many he was still a man I loved and respected his passing left a vacuum that would never be filled. He has been gone well over fifteen years and I still miss him every day.