An Interview with Dad

A few months ago, I asked my dad some questions about his life, and I would like to share his answers.

Q: When and where were you born?

A: I was born on October 2, 1950 at Harper Hospital in Detroit. We lived in Farmington at the time.

Q: How did your family come to live there?

A: Just before I was born, my dad bought the family home that we grew up in. It was in the downtown area.

Q: What was the house like?

A: The house was quite large. A two-story with a full length front porch, large trees, and a big yard on each side of the house.

Q: What’s your earliest childhood memory?

A: In the fall, we raked and raked and raked leaves to the edge of the road and poured gas on them and burned them right there.

Q: What were your siblings like?

A: Growing up, I had an older sister and two younger brothers. Sister Sue had her hands full having to fend for herself against three boys. I was an angel and Tony and Ted were always battling.

Q: What were your parents like?

A: Mom was beautiful and ran the household. She cooked, cleaned and did laundry every day. Dad ran (owned) the Dairy. he got up at 3:30am M-F and 5am on Saturdays. After stopping at Conroy’s Market on the way home, he would lay down on the couch and and nap until dinner. 

Q: What was your favorite toy?

A: The hardware store in town had a magazine with a bicycle in it that was awesome. I saved my money 25-50 cents at a time from raking leaves and shoveling snow for months until I had the $20-$25 to buy it.

Q: What was your favorite thing to do in the summer?

A: Play baseball from the time I was 8 years old. When I turned 13, I worked full-time in the dairy and played baseball after work and on weekends. Dad was our coach until I was 12 years old.

Q: What was your favorite music to listen to?

A: Rock and Roll and slow dances to hold your honey and dance to.

Q: What were your favorite movies and TV shows?

A: I don’t remember movies, although we regularly went to the drive-in in our PJs in our station wagon with our popcorn. TV shows were black and white and there weren’t very many, though I remember being a fan of The Lone Ranger.

Q: What was school like? (What subjects did you like? What social group were you in? Favorite teachers?)

A: I did quite well in school. I was friends with most everyone in our social group. I was president of my senior class and trip club, and voted Outstanding Athlete by the teachers and athletic coaches in 1968. My favorite teachers loved athletics and on game days would have you rest instead of doing class work. Playing three sports, I spent a lot of time resting.

Q: Where did you attend school?

A: Middle School was Farmington Jr High School, Grades 7, 8, 9
High School was Farmington High, Grades 10, 11, 12
Attended Eastern Michigan University 1 Semester playing Baseball
Attended Western Michigan University 2 Semesters playing Baseball

Q: What activities/sports did you participate in?

A: Baseball, Basketball and Football.

Q: Who were your favorite childhood heroes? (Actors, sports icons, musicians)

A: Al Kaline was my hero.

Q: Was your family religious? If so, what religion? What church?

A: We attended the Salem United Church of Christ. It was one short block from our house. My grandfather remodeled the church, kitchen and Sunday School classrooms and brought the Minister from out-of-state to preach there. He was the Minister for 40-50 years.

Q: Did you ever go on family trips as a child? What was your favorite?

A: We went to Teeple Lake on Sundays in the summer, and one summer went to Rapid City, South Dakota to spend a week with Uncle Junior and his family. It was a long drive, but we had a great time.

Q: Were you ever mentioned in a newspaper?

A: Many times, including pictures from playing basketball and baseball.

Q: What did you usually get in trouble for?

A: Since I was an angel, I don’t recall ever getting in trouble!

Q: Who were your best friends growing up? Are you still friends with any of them?

A: Cousin Steve Wickham - Yes
Dick Cripps - Yes
Tom Webster - No
Chris Brown - Yes
Paul Misch - Yes

Q: What was your favorite birthday to celebrate? How did you celebrate? (16th? 18th? 21st? 50th?)

A: My 50th. We had an incredible dinner for 50 people at Desi and Priscilla’s that included 3 prime ribs, shrimp and scallop pasta, parsley potatoes, and a number of other things, all made by Csaba. And there was of course an open bar with Uncle Chuck bartending all night. It couldn’t get any better than that.

Q: What world events had the most impact on you while you were growing up? Did any of them personally affect your family?

A: President John F. Kennedy’s Assassination. I’m sure everyone’s life was affected whether they knew it or not.

Q: Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?

A: Meat, potatoes and vegetables. We all sat down to dinner together. Mom cooked dinner every night and cooked the meat well done. Us kids rotated washing and drying dishes. My favorite was always meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn.

Q: How were the holidays celebrated in your family? Did your family have any special traditions?

A: Typical turkey dinner with family. Thanksgiving and Christmas was huge. Dad’s sisters with their husbands and their kids, plus grandma and grandpa.

Q: Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?

A: Grandpa brought his mother from the old country Yugoslavia when she was about 80 years old. She had no teeth (the Nazi’s had pulled them out for the gold in them). She grew the biggest and best veggies in her garden.

Q: Did you have any pets? What were their names?

A: We had a dog for many years. Her name was Babe. She chased every car that drove by for years.

Q: When and how did you meet your spouse/significant other? What did you do on dates?

A: I moved from Tennessee back to Michigan. My first day of work I saw my beautiful wife-to-be as she worked there. For our first date, we went to a Tiger Baseball game. I believe our next date we went out to dinner at Silky Sullivan’s in Dearborn.  

Q: How did you propose/How were you proposed to?

A: After a few months of dating, I asked Ava to marry me.

Q: When and where did you get married?

A: We got married on New Year’s Eve at her parents’ home. 

Q: How would you describe your spouse? What do you admire most about them?

A: Ava is beautiful, cares about everyone, has been a wonderful wife and great mother to our children. I admire her love for our kids and all of her friends.

Q: How did you feel when you first found our you were going to be a parent?

A: I was very excited.

Q: What did you and your family enjoy doing together? 

A: Big family vacations. Hungary, Florida (numerous times), Mexico, Dominican Republic. My favorite was our last Disney trip when the kids were older. Also, pumpkin patch trips, decorating the Christmas tree every year and going out to dinner the last 3 or 4 years.

Q: What is your profession and how did you choose it?

A: Retired 43 years auto sales General Sales Manager. When I was 19 years old, a friend’s dad asked me if I would like to sell cars for him.

Q: If you could have had any other profession, what would it have been?

A: I wanted to be a professional baseball player my whole life. After my 19-year-old year of playing baseball, I was not offered a contract, so I took the job selling cars.

Q: What has been your favorite place to visit or travel as an adult?

A: When we went to Hungary, I was amazed by how old everything was compared to what we consider old in America.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of so far?

A: The last 26+ years with Ava. All of my children and grandchildren. Our relatively stable financial situation.

Q: If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

A: I don’t know if doing things differently would have changed it, but I would have liked to have been healthier.

Additional Thoughts:

The last 26+ years have been more than I could have ever hoped for. Having Ava by my side and seeing my/our children grow and prosper is about all anyone can ask of life.

Write a quick love story. The story must end badly.

Everytime he got on a plane, he had that little ounce of hope that the woman of his dreams would be the one with the seat assignment next to him. On this particular trip from Amsterdam to Rome, he was seated in his preferred window seat, gazing down the aisle, in hopes that his perfect lady would find her way to the seat next to his.

Then, like it was happening in slow motion, a beautiful brunette appeared in the line of people headed in his direction. "She's Like the Wind" started to play in his head as their eyes met and she continued toward him. In a few short seconds, their lives together flashed before his eyes. He saw a lovely house on the countryside, two kids, a boy and a girl, a dog, an office area for her to write her next novel, and an enormous kitchen for him to work his magic in. She approached his row and they exchanged smiles as she took her seat next to him and placed her purse below the seat in front of her. All he could think was how much he was looking forward to talking with this beauty for the next two hours.

The flight attendant walked over to their row, "Excuse me, ma'am. We were able to arrange for you to sit with your husband and children. Please follow me."

If you were a teacher as a career, what would you teach?

I do teach. I'm not a teacher in the traditional sense of the career, but I teach women how to use makeup in classes and one-on-one sessions. Many people think that cosmetics are unnecessary and that wearing makeup takes away from a person's "natural beauty." But being able to teach women how to properly apply makeup in a way that enhances her natural beauty, ALWAYS makes them feel more confident, which is an incredibly rewarding feeling for me.

What do you need right now?

Need? Nothing. I'm sitting on a plane on the way to LA for a couple days of work meetings, then driving to San Diego for Comic Con! Woo! And my birthday is tomorrow, so I'm happy to be spending that somewhere other than home.

But I could tell you what I want. I want a magical weekend, filled with incredible new experiences, fabulous new people, and if I'm really pushing it, I'd like to live out the three weeks of Dirty Dancing as Baby. And while I realize Patrick Swayze is no longer with us, I would be happy with a dreamy substitute who is quick on his feet and could whip me around the dance floor.

That's all.

Heartbroken Hipstertown

Give your town a new name that reflect what type of place it is, and explain why you chose that name.

Heartbroken Hipstertown

Where the broken hearted, PBR-drinking, flannel wearing, twenty and thirty-somethings move to meet like-minded people and drown their sorrows in a bottle of Jameson while listening to Lucero.

A Flight to San Diego Comic Con

A Flight to San Diego Comic-Con
DTW > SAN
By Christina Himmelspach

 

 

Sitting at Gate 76A, waiting for Zone 2 to be called to board. Scanning the area for fellow nerds on their way to San Diego for the 44th year of Comic-Con. I found myself seated across from a guy in his mid-thirties with thick rimmed glasses and short, sandy blond hair, who was rocking a blue Nintendo shirt with all of the iconic characters gathered together, grinning with gigantic smiles that only cartoons could have. On the seat next to him, he had a backpack and a white poster tube. This guy was serious. Most of the people I know just buy poster tubes at the convention for five bucks, or hope to be in the right place at the right time when FOX hands them out as swag. But this guy was bringing his own.

I briefly made eye contact with Nintendo guy and he immediately redirected his gaze to the floor. Then I overheard the guy two seats to my right claim he didn't like Star Wars.

“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. “Who the hell doesn’t like Star Wars?”

He glanced towards me with a blank look on his face. “What? I’m sure I’m not the only one.”

I stared back with a look of disapproval, “You’re on your way to quite possibly the biggest gathering of nerdy people in the world, so you have to slightly understand my surprise.”

Nintendo chimes in, “Wait, did he say he doesn’t like Star Wars? That’s crazy!”

I look back over to him, “Right?”

Star Wars hater fell silent while Nintendo continued to stare at me from across the aisle with an awkward smirk on his face. Thanks for taking my side, buddy.

After another minute or so, the call for Zone 1 was made to board. I stood up from my seat, put on my Marvel backpack, grabbed my carry-on suitcase and rolled it over to the window to be closer to the line when my turn to board was up, but not too close to be considered one of those assholes at the airport who is constantly in everyone’s way.

The gate attendant made the announcement for Zone 2 to begin boarding and mentioned that they were looking for volunteers to check extra luggage to make additional room in the overhead compartments on our overbooked flight. I’m always happy to hand over my extra suitcase so I don’t have to spend time finding it a home on the plane, or lifting the damn thing over my head. 

While making my way down the aisle of the plane, headed towards Row 16 where I had a fantastic middle seat waiting for me, (SARCASM) I spotted an attractive male sitting in 15A. He looked familiar, but after making eye contact twice in about ten seconds, I lost my opportunity to discretely figure out where I might recognize that face from. 

I found my way to 16B and buckled in. I sat there wracking my brain, trying to figure out who this guy was. Treating my mind like a rolodex, I flipped through various places I’d been in my life, trying to come up with mutual friends we could possibly share, thinking of shows that I may have seen him at. Yes. Shows. He was definitely a band guy. But what band and which part of my life would I have met him at? I was involved in the band scene for about eight years, so he could have been from anywhere and could play any genre of music. I narrowed it down to pop/punk based on his look, but that still didn’t help me out much.

Between the seats, I could see him sitting there on his phone, checking his Twitter notifications every couple seconds, and replying to people frequently. He was clearly a popular guy. I couldn’t read anything he was typing, which was okay because that would have been crossing the line from a little weird to just plain creepy. 

I tried to divert my attention away from him and decided to scan through the movies available on the in-flight entertainment. I shamefully hadn’t seen The Amazing Spider-Man 2, so I decided to put that on. Of course, a second after I press play, I glanced back between the seats and Mr. 15A was about to start Spider-Man as well. 

I had to do something to figure out who this guy was. How the hell do you talk to someone on an airplane who isn’t sitting next to you?

You pass them a note. Obviously.

I took out my notebook and a pen, and thought long and hard about what to say. I decided to keep it simple.

“Hey. You’re cute. Heading home?” It read.

But how was I supposed to give it to him? This could go wrong in so many different ways. We had over four hours ahead of us, sitting a foot away from each other. But hey, I had to believe in the wise words of my Taco Bell sauce from earlier that day, “If you never do, you’ll never know.” And yes, I know Taco Bell totally made that up. (SARCASM.) 

I spent about five minutes sitting there, trying to work up the courage to hand him the note. It was like being afraid to jump into a swimming pool because the water might be too cold. Except none of my friends were already in the pool, encouraging me to jump in. I was on my own and I just needed to do it.

I tapped him on the shoulder and handed the note to him through the seats. He looked at me, smiled, took the note and read it. He rotated his body in my direction and said, “No, I’m actually from Maryland.” 

I gave him my pen and said, “Here, write me back.”

I sat there, staring at the back of my seat with a huge grin on my face, just laughing to myself because WHO DOES STUFF LIKE THIS?

He handed the note and pen back to me. It read, “I’m from Maryland headed to a show in San Diego. What about you? I’m Adam by the way.”

The rest of the written conversation went like this:

“Nice to informally meet you, Adam. I’m Christina. 

And I’m from Detroit. 

Fancy band guy, huh? Anything I might have heard of?”

 

“Maybe! Every Second Gone. 

We’re playing at an event during Comic-Con. 

What are you visiting San Diego for?”

 

“I’m actually headed there for Comic-Con myself. 

And yes, I’m familiar with your band. 

I know David who used to (maybe still does) tech for you guys.”

 

“What! You know David? That’s crazy. 

Such a small world. 

I’ve never been to Comic-Con but I hear it’s awesome. 

Do you want to grab a drink while we’re in town?”

 

“Yeah that’d be fun! Are you guys staying downtown?”

 

“Sure are. I’ll get your number when we get off the plane. 

It was nice passing notes with you! 

I haven’t done this since middle school lol”

 

“Haha me either. Enjoy your movie!”

I handed the note back to him without the pen so that I had the last word. 

I finished watching Spider-Man while enjoying some Honey Jack Daniel's on the rocks, then decided to read a graphic novel for the rest of the flight. 

Before I knew it, we were landing in San Diego. As I was getting off the plane, I noticed Adam and the other guys in the band were waiting for me. We made introductions and began our walk towards baggage claim. On the way, we discussed Comic-Con and how I’m a regular attendee. We talked about the times I’d seen them play but not seen them play because I was at those shows for other bands, and we discovered how many mutual friends we had in the band scene. It was one of those situations where you come across people you’ve been in the same place with at the same time, numerous times before, but for one reason or another, had never actually met. 

While waiting for our bags, I gave Adam my number and shared a little more small talk. After a couple minutes, their car arrived. Adam hugged me goodbye and I told the rest of the guys it was nice to meet them, and then they were off to their hotel. I walked down to the taxicab stand to do the same. I was a short ride away from reuniting with my five Comic-Con buddies, and beginning my favorite week of the year; SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON!

 

 

*Some names and details were changed to protect identities