As far back as I can remember my dad always wore a hat. He never wore it in a Church a restaurant or in the house like they do today but only to work and when he was outside. I remember him taking off his hat when he went into a building. I remember him tipping his hat to the ladies...He was a very respectful and courteous... In the winter he wore a Navy pea-cap. It was around the time of World War two and I remember he said he was exempt from the Military. He told me, instead of the Military and because of our family, he called us "dependents" and at that time they only drafting single guys...So he worked in a place called the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts where they made guns for “World War Two“. He was a Machinist. ... My uncle, my moms brother, his name was Frank. During the war he was in the Navy building and repairing airbases on those islands in the Pacific. He was in what they called the “Navy Seabees“. He told me he "drove a bulldozer" and made landing strips for the war planes on those islands...I remember he gave my dad a Navy pea hat and a pea-coat for the winter. He gave me a clock that he said, "came out of a Navy plane that crashed". They called it a, pea coat and pea hat because of the material it was made of. I often wondered what the “P” meant…In the summer my dad wore a baseball hat. He was a great baseball player. He played third base on the town baseball team. The name of the team was the "Kettle Brook Team". It was named after a once popular fishing brook in our town. I think its a swamp now by the Congregational Church on Main St....The uniforms they wore were like the Yankee pin stripes but my dad was always a Red Sox fan. He got to see them win a World Series before he died. He was happy about that. My son Adam even put a Red Sox hat in his coffin. He really would have liked that.
I especially remember one summer afternoon many years ago when they were playing baseball at the local ballpark near St. Mary's school in Windsor Locks Connecticut. Dad told me that the famous "Babe Ruth" and the Yankee baseball team visited the park while they were on some kind of tour. I remember one time at a game when I was standing near the fence with my fingers holding the fence and he came over and told me to never hold the fence like that because a foul ball might hit my fingers. I will never forget that. To this day I will never lace my fingers in a Chain link fence.....He always took care of me...He use to say to Mom to "Keep an eye on me" or "Watch over me" all the time. I was watching a game one afternoon when the batter hit a line drive, a hot grounder, a one bouncer to him at third base and he caught the ball and threw it from deep in the hole to first base and got the runner out...Everybody in the grandstand cheered. I didn’t know how important that was at the time but he was very excited when he explained it to me. His nick name was “Pap the Rooster”. All the players had nick names. From that moment on my Dad had the nick name "Pap". No one ever called him Joe which was his real name. I have no idea what that means but I think, “Rooster” is a term for a baseball infielder. I was only a little kid and very young but I remember that. When he was older and done playing baseball he wore a golf hat. For years he played golf all summer long at the "Copper Hill Country Club" in East Granby with my uncles and his friends. In the winter he went bowling. First at Blanch's lanes on Grove St. then at the "Villa Rose" on Spring St. in Windsor Locks on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I went with him because my Mom worked and I remember helping the owner of the bowling alley set up the pins. They said were “short handed”. I was called "the pin boy" and they paid me 6 cents a string...The bowling pins were called “Duck-Pins“. I remember the hat he had at the time with a bowling pin logo on it…On Sundays he wore a fedora to church like the one Humphrey Bogart wore in the movies. I have a picture of me and my Dad all dressed up for Church and we both had a fedora on. It looked like I was 6 or 7 years old. .
Dad, I will always remember the things you taught me, the wonderful example you set and the priceless things you said to me. A day doesn't go by when I don't think of you and think, what would my Dad do in a situation this? It never fails, I always make good choices when I do that.. It was an honor and a pleasure to take care of you and "Watch over you" in your last days like you took care of me.. I really miss you Dad... Happy Fathers Day.... I love you.....
Link below is a Fathers day story written by John Steward who writes for the Stonington Times in Connecticut.