My father does not come from wealthy people. There was always a roof over his head, and he didn’t miss any meals, but it was hardscrabble at times, first as a toddler in Nebraska, then a young boy growing up in Casper, Wyoming. When my father’s father, Grandpa Fred, up and left for California, Dad came too, and there would seek his fortunes as an adult.
In Casper, Dad was mostly interested in outdoor pursuits like backpacking and hunting. He was a star performer on the track team. His first real job was at his father’s service station. Pumping gas was pretty much the same then as it is now, the difference being that Dad was pumping gas at 15 cents a gallon into 1940 Chevrolets and Fords. A milestone event from this period is the deaths of several Casper boys, friends of my fathers, who fell while tethered together off the face of Yosemite Falls.
As a young man in California, Dad found a position as a stockroom worker with Montgomery Ward. The building he worked in was built in 1923, and was part of Oakland’s low horizon until its demolition in 2000. A surviving memory of the time involves a box cutter and an accidentally self-inflicted wound.
Needing to make extra money around the holidays in 1949, Dad and his father went into business for themselves, selling wholesale Christmas trees out of a vacant lot. It was at that lot that my father met my mother, a suburban Oakland girl with an upbringing very different from his.
Dad was drafted in 1950, soon after marrying my mother, and his job became Browning Automatic Rifle-man, in a bunker several miles north of Korea’s 38th parallel.
Returning home and starting a family, Dad found a job as a produce assistant at an Oakland Safeway Store. From there his trajectory with the grocery chain would be upward: produce department manager, third man, assistant manager, store manager, regional operations manager, and district manager.
Along the way with Safeway, Dad also ventured into real estate, buying up a few properties on credit and renting them out, realizing a slim but helpful profit with four children and a wife to support. Once a store manager though, Dad put all his efforts and skill into succeeding in the grocery business.
There are too many jobs my father has done on his own time to mention. He’s made built-in style bookcases for every member of the family. He enjoyed supervising and participating in the construction of backyard decks and fences. He’s cleared brush, mowed miles, slathered paint on various properties, every task a do-it-yourselfer can do.
These days–yes, he’s still with us–Maynard, age 88, likes to putter in his own yard, and, as always, around the homes of his kids and grandkids.
Happy Father’s Day!