Whenever dad got after a hobby he’d really dive right in. For a while it was cars: the ’53 Buick, the ’56 Chevy, the ’81 Vette. That last one was particularly hilarious in its impracticality. I was in seventh grade and on the football team – 3rd string free safety because those were the spots available for us no talent runts from across town; I think the only reason we were kept on roster was so coach could field a team after grades came out.
Dad would pick us up after practice every now and then and we’d pile in, gear and all, to this two-seat T-top, fire-engine red. Red as the lips on the girls working the corners of East 12th that we’d pass on the bus in the morning – in the morning! – after crossing the dividing line.
At some point he got into pawn shops and those got him pretty wound up. My uncle was a defense contractor, a position that took him and my aunt and my cousin around the globe. For a while they were in Copperas Cove, not far from Austin, just outside Killeen/Ft. Hood. By comparison to previous stints in San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, the South Pacific, I cannot imagine that this was a geographically rewarding posting, but it got my mom’s sister back from the far side of the world and that thrilled her beyond measure.
Every Christmas they were in Texas, after my brother and I would crack open presents, we’d all pile in the car (the Suburban, thankfully) and head up for a long lunch. Green belt ran behind the fence, oak trees with no leaves, Blue-Gray game on the television. During these sluggish hours my dad and uncle would sneak off to hit the pawn shops. Military towns must be gold mines that time of year. Quick cash traded to get that loved one something special.
Not sure if it was on one of these trips or at some old jewelry shop, but along the way he picked up this gold watch. A Gruen Veri-Thin model (ca. 1945-1955), as I was told by the jeweler who’s just recently gotten it back to me in good working order. He said not to wear it every day but I wear it every day because it reminds me of the man who always dove right in.