The picture shows my Dad just the way he was. No nonsense and I am amazed to see he actually had his arm around my shoulder. Back in “those days” most men in that Maine woods area either did not have the time or just did not take the time to show much affection for their kids. Nope, even in my wildest dreams could I imagine his doing what Dads do today….take me to a park, push me in a swing, play catch. Nope. Not my Dad. Oh, he did hang a rope and tire from the old apple tree in the corner of our yard. We did a lot of swinging, but Dad never pushed!
He took me fishing, though. I was allowed to ride in the boat when he trolled for a white perch on Indian Pond and how well I remember the times he rowed us around Twitchell Pond in his pursuit for the elusive brown trout. He taught me how to gut and clean a fish. Well, he told me if I liked to fish that well, I had to clean everything I caught…..and that resulted in the lesson.
My father had no patience. That is not criticism; that’s a fact. When he wanted something done, we should be prepared to do it. My two older brothers were the brunt of the Martin wrath when things were not as they should be.
He hated holidays and cussed at the Christmas tree because the branches kept hitting him when he maneuvered past it in our little house. If there was a grinch in Greenwood Center, it was my father.
—and yet, one day we were in Ray Langway’s filling station in Locke’s Mills and I saw a jacket..oh, it was beautiful maroon and gray, our high school colors. I told him how much I loved it and he replied that it was a man’s jacket. I said I didn’t care. The matter was dropped.
When he came home the next payday, he had the jacket on his arm and said, “this is what you wanted, right?” I was bowled over as we were taught not to ask for anything. There was a streak of kindness in the “old man” after all!
I will remember my father for his sense of humor which was known throughout the area. I will remember his teaching us the night calls of birds and animals as we lay on our mattresses in the little camp at the foot of Indian Pond. It is because of him I know I will never try bear meat again; that one can eat raccoon and survive and that yellow perch are wormy in August.
Not your Brady Bunch Dad that is for sure. But sometimes, in retrospect, I wonder if he actually knew he had four kids. His world was the outdoors and his mind was in his books. In later years, he softened. When my first baby arrived, he sat next to me, took Debra’s hands and said, “Hmm, long fingers. She’ll either be a piano player or a thief.” That was how his mind worked..and he followed it up with, “You should have named her Francella.” “Why, Dad?” “Because I saw the name on a gravestone in a cemetery and it suits her.” Never mind that months before he had suggested I name the baby Debra.
That was my Dad. The man who went into a rage and did not want to be called Beryl after he received an ad in the mail to take a beautician course. He wanted to be known as “Bob” or just B. Martin. The man who eradicated bats by shooting them in the attic, giving us several small sun roofs. Life was never boring with my father.
I wrote an article for a Maine magazine years ago and called it, “Living with a Whirl wind.” That about sums it up.