Santa Claus, homemade ice cream and baseball: how these Washington seniors remember their fathers | People Features

Even although 95-year-old Bob Miller hasn’t set foot on the family farm in decades, he can still imagine his father, Frank, on a Sunday afternoon sitting in the shade of an elm tree up north -Rural Eastern Missouri.

“He would be over there sitting in a rocking chair, eating homemade ice cream,” Miller recalled Wednesday in an interview with The Missourian, as residents of the Victorian Place Senior Living facility in Washington were urged to recall special – or mundane – memories of their fathers in honor of Father’s Day.

As a father of three, grandfather of six and great-grandfather of seven, Miller said he expects a lot of attention to be given to himself this holiday. However, he was grateful on Wednesday to think back to his father.

“I will definitely be thinking of dad, though,” said Miller, who described his dad as “one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known.”

“The only time he stopped working on our farm was to go to church on Sundays,” Miller said of his father, who died in 1949 at the age of 83. , but he believed in the Bible.

“In my head, I see him in the fields, working with a team of four horses and a plow. I see him at home under the shade tree. I see dad in the pew at church on Sunday mornings,” Miller said.

The last time Miller returned to his hometown of Edina, he ventured into the family farm – or at least what’s left of it. The once bustling 250-acre farm has been all but obliterated by progress as the farm was merged into a much larger farm and the new owners demolished her mother’s chicken coop, car shed and even the childhood home by Miller.

“It’s all gone now, but I’ll always remember it,” Miller said.

Miller said his father, who was 78 when his youngest son was drafted into the US Army at the end of World War II, was different from most fathers today.

“He believed the best way to raise us was to show us what it meant to work hard. So once you were old enough to do something on the farm, you did it,” Miller said, who told tales of throwing hay on a wagon, pressing hay, collecting eggs from chicken coops, feeding horses and pigs, and other agricultural tasks.

“My brothers and I were raised through hard work. It was like that back then, but I have no regrets,” said Miller, who has spent his career working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., first as a lineman and then in various positions. Before moving to Washington, Miller had called Union home since 1970.

“I’m grateful to dad,” Miller said.

Meanwhile, Lee (née Clark) Lapointe, 88, said there wasn’t a day that she didn’t think of her dad, Jim Clark.

“I don’t necessarily consciously think of him, but I’ll see something that reminds me of him or I’ll think of something I want to say to dad,” Lapointe said.

Clark was the superintendent of streets in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

“I mean, he was as Republican as they come. So there will be something on TV and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, Pa, I wouldn’t like that’ or ‘Now, Pa, that’s how it is right now,’” Lapointe said.

Lapointe said his father gave him an example of being a good person.

“He worked hard at his job and was proud of the job he did,” said Lapointe. “He showed me and my sister that when you work, you really have to give it your all.”

That’s not to say Lapointe’s father never relaxed.

“He would come home from work, take off his suit, put on some casual clothes, then open a beer,” Lapointe said. Although he was not loyal to any particular beer brewery, Lapointe said his father had two weaknesses – Major League Baseball and gambling on the occasional horse race.

“He loved baseball with a deep passion, even though he absolutely hated the Red Sox,” Lapointe said. “His favorite team, and he traveled to see them several times a year, was the New York Yankees. My dad just thought of the world of Mickey Mantle.

Lapointe said she also grew to love the game, especially since it meant she could spend more time with her father. She said her father was very proud to see his youngest daughter play softball.

“There was just something special about our relationship,” Lapointe said. “I don’t know how to explain it other than he was my dad and I knew he loved me.”

She said she thought her father would be proud of the life she and her sister, Barbara, led.

“My dad came out of the factories there in Holyoke and went into the Navy because he knew that was the only way to make a better life for himself,” Lapointe said. “Once he got out of the Navy, he went to college and became a civil engineer. He always insisted that we do our best.

Her brother, also named Jim, died during World War II. He was a pilot in Europe.

Lapointe moved to Missouri in 1963 for her husband, Gene, who was hired by Monsanto. She raised their four children before opening the Farmer’s Hotel Restaurant in Augusta and running it for six years. She then opened Lapointe’s along the Washington River, but closed the restaurant after the 1993 flood, according to Missourian archives.

After a brief stint running the kitchen of another restaurant in Augusta and publishing her own cookbook, she worked for more than 17 years as a chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Washington.

Lapointe said she hopes those who have living fathers take the time to celebrate them this holiday.

“You don’t realize it now, but this time spent together is absolutely precious,” Lapointe said. “So cherish them while you can. Let them know you love them because they are special to you. And years from now, you’ll be grateful you spent that time together.

Betty (née Finney) Peecher, 92, also misses her dad this holiday weekend. A retired teacher from Louisiana, Missouri, Peecher grew up on a nearly 200-acre farm near Greenfield, Illinois, about an hour’s drive north of St. Louis on Highway 267.

The eldest of his four siblings, Peecher said his father, Russell Sr., could do “just about anything” with his hands.

“He could be an electrician. He could be a plumber. He could be a carpenter. He was just an amazing man and a very hard worker,” Peecher said.

She recalled how as a child she woke up and saw her father already at work in the fields, having woken up before dawn. Then, how after coming home from school, she saw her father working hard in the fields until well after dark.

“There were many nights he didn’t come home until 9 a.m. and that’s when we had dinner together,” said Peecher, who moved to Washington to be near his children and grandchildren.

Despite her father’s long working hours, she said he found time to serve on the school board for his one-room schoolhouse and later for the consolidated school district once the schools merged.

“My dad believed in education and the opportunities it gave every child,” said Peecher, who said his dad attended Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, for a year before he had to. drop out of school.

“I think he would have become an engineer if he could have stayed in school,” Peecher said of his father, who died in 1970. His father pushed each of his children to pursue college or post-secondary education, which all four did. . One sister graduated from nursing school and worked at the University of Illinois Hospital, Peecher and two of her other siblings have bachelor’s degrees from Illinois State University. Peecher went on to earn a master’s degree in teaching from Webster University after taking night classes for two years.

Peecher’s father died before he could see her receive her master’s degree.

“I think he would have been the happiest man alive that day,” Peecher said. “He would have seen it as proof that he had succeeded in raising my siblings and me. He was proud of all of us.”

During the interview, Peecher recalled how his father, often dressed in blue overalls, a blue work shirt and a straw hat, diligently cleaned hundreds of feet of rows of fences, because he wanted the farm to be clean and tidy.

She remembered that her father always wore a bow tie to church and was there to walk her and her sisters down the aisle on their wedding day. She recalled how her father would dress up as Santa, delivering candy and oranges to local children, while quietly delivering a new jacket or coat to a family in need during the holidays.

Peecher described how his father dutifully volunteered year after year for the local 4-H club, teaching his children and others how to properly display livestock.

“In my eyes he was the best man in the world because if he worked hard he also made sure he made time for us,” Peecher said. “If he walked through the door right now, I would run to him, hug him and honestly not sure I’d ever let him go. I miss my dad.”

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