You never know where a good story will turn up in Socorro. This time it was at the Rotary Club meeting last Wednesday at Bodega Burger where they’re marking their 80th anniversary in Socorro. Ted Kase was there and he told a story about his father, a lifelong Rotarian who was especially keen on never missing a Rotary meeting, even while on vacation up in Canada’s boonies.
You could say it’s a tale of dedication.
“We had a cottage up there and the Rotary Club met, like we do, on Wednesday at noon,” Ted starts out. “It was quite a distance away…and it became a challenge for my father to maintain a one hundred percent attendance.”
“So, my mother and my dad would get up in the morning on Wednesday, pack up, get in the canoe and paddle across the lake...about 20 minutes to the end of the lake,” Ted said. “They’d leave the canoe there and then hike about three-fourths of a mile down to the next lake. At that point, they kept another canoe in a culvert…to keep away from the bears…and they’d paddle down Potter Lake, which was four miles long.”
“My mother’d be up there on the bow, and Dad down there steering and paddling on the right side. He always liked the right side of the canoe and I always had to paddle on the left so I never learned how to paddle on the right. Anyway.”
“He’d paddle down Potter Lake, four miles, and ditch that canoe in another culvert,” he said.
That’s when they would start walking…down railroad tracks. “The ties were still on and the rails were still on so it wasn’t the best of walks,” Ted continued. “They’d walk two and a half miles down the railroad bed.”
That’s when they would get to where their car was parked. “One time they got down there and a beaver had felled a birch on the trunk of the car,” he said. That slowed them down one time. “They would get in the car…drove to the nearest town that had a Rotary Club, Huntsville, Ontario.”
At this point, it’s been one hour and fifteen minutes since they left the cabin.
“Dad would go to the luncheon meetings and Mother would go shopping. She had three stores she would go to. The bakery was one. And then she’d go to the grocery store. And then she’d go to the store that had the meat,” he said. “She’s buy all this and she’d meet Dad at the end of the Rotary meeting.”
And they’d reverse the trip.
“And poor Mother had a packsack and she had to carry it. It was too much of a load to have much milk, but she always had to have fresh cream for her coffee,” Ted smiled. “We never had the luxury of having cereal with any kind of milk. Except dried milk.”
“That was Dad’s dedication and they kept that up during the summer,” he finished up.
I guess we all have similar stories of our fathers; stories we tell our own children, stories that become our family’s legacies. I’ve been thinking about my father these past few days, here on the verge of Father’s Day.
Like a lot of guys, I've experienced fatherhood both ways; being a father and having a father. This is where you get into the subset “grandfather,” which is the ultimate payoff for being a father. I figure a grandfather’s job it is to teach his grandson how to get into mischief they haven’t thought of yet. (Don’t tell my son I said that.)
My own dad shuffled off this mortal coil after a heart attack and a stroke in 1995 at the age of 79, and I still miss him.
Luckily, I have a back-up dad, my father-in-law Ramon Quiñones, who just celebrated his 90th birthday last month.
Born in Puerto Rico, Ramon relocated to Columbus, Ohio to work as an artist for the U.S. Air Force, creating paintings of military aircraft that were no doubt displayed and appreciated by service men and women at installations all over the world. A gentleman I’m proud to call my father-in-law.
While we’re on the whole “father” theme, today is National Flag Day, for it was June 14, 1777 that our forefathers passed a resolution adopting the American flag.
It went something like this:
“Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
I like that…stars for a new constellation.
But what does it mean? Here’s something I read once that got to me.
Our flag means all that our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War. It means all the Declaration of Independence meant. It means justice. It means liberty. It means happiness… Every color means liberty. Every thread means liberty. Every star and stripe means liberty.