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.