Memories often take strange turns. Yesterday, I was thinking, as I often do, on a single subject, a tune played by the younger brother of a school classmate. On his trombone, he'd play a jazzy version of, "Believe me if all those endearing young charms", and he had it well perfected.
So, often without provocation, I will suddenly begin to hum or whistle that jazzy tune. Sometimes, I will give my tune words, such as:
Believe me if all those
Endearing young charms
Which I gaze on so fondly today
Were to change by tomorrow
And fleet in my arms,
And the skies are not cloudy all day....
Home, home on the range...etc.
And so, I started thinking of my dad, and am forced to once more relate another "dad fact", which, I'm sure, may be boring to some.
The first three years of my life were spent on the road. My dad, who had started his working life at age 14, after the untimely death of his father, was a "traveling salesman".
The family went along with Dad on his work, living for no more than a short while in many towns across Texas. I was first, then my younger sister and I, traveling with Mom and Dad, occasionally stopping for awhile in Nacogdoches, the city of my birth, to allow we little ones to stay with Granny for awhile.
Of the products he sold in those early days, I only remember a line of glass mixing bowls, and subscriptions to Progressive Farmer magazine. It was work that he loved, however.
In the year that I was four, we moved to Nacogdoches, and lived there until shortly before I reached five. My dad worked for a time in the woods with my grandfather, who was a logger, and tried a small scale printing business in a building behind our house (a duplex shared with one of Mom's cousins), and I suppose, filled in part time at the post office. Then, we packed up and moved down to the Texas coast, to Bay City, Texas, where he worked for awhile in an appliance store owned by an old family friend.
Then, one evening, he walked into our little house, and announced, "I'm a FULL substitute!" Not knowing for sure what that meant, I later found out that he had accomplished a goal. He had become a postal employee at the Post Office in Bay City.
When I was eight, and my dad was away in the South Pacific during The War, my mom bought a second hand upright piano, and was very insistent that I take piano lessons. She probably should have taken them herself rather than waste her money, but she felt that my sister and I needed the experience of learning music. One thing she really wanted me to master was, "Home, Sweet Home". It had always been my dad's favorite.
Once my sister and I were away at college, my dad began to sell a brand of recliner chair and aluminum cookware locally, and soon hooked up with a representative for several furniture factories. He gave up his job with the post office, which, I later understood, he had never come to love. Once again, he became a "traveling salesman".
He later separated from the senior representative, and began representing furniture factories on his own. My mom chose to stay home, and traveled with him only occasionally, and on numerous trips to Furniture Markets.
It was not until many years later, during the year that I was fifty-eight years old, and we sat with the minister preparing Dad's eulogy, that I suddenly realized that the year in Nacogdoches, and all those years in the post office, which frequently gave him headaches, were to provide my sister and me with a stable environment during our "growing up" years. I had never been aware of the sacrifice he made for us, because he never gave us reason to think about it.
My dad was a traveling man, who loved the road, and the interaction with people of all temperaments in countless places across the country, but he always came home on weekends, and carried with him always the sentiment he had held as a boy,
"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;"