Sunday, December 11, 2011

stout-hearted men

I drop off food at my father's house and am greeted at the door by the stereo blaring a rendition of "Stout-hearted Men."  Now you know that tune, "give us some men who are stout-hearted men who will fight for the right to be free,"  and loud enough to compensate my father who prefers not to wear his hearing aid.  I am transported back to an earlier time, my childhood and how is it I know all the words to this tune and all the others on the album.  Because unlike anyone else I know Sonny plays military music on a regular basis along with all the other dead guys music that his generation enjoys.

 It's no secret.  I grew up in a boot camp with an ex-Marine father who did everything on schedule and by the roster. I'm surprised he never hired a bugler to wake us in the morning.  Pity the poor child who would borrow one of his tools and not return it in the pristine condition he found it. I was one of those unfortunates and it was not pleasant. Dinner was served at 5:15 every day, not 5:16, not 5:17,  you get it.  I can still see my brother racing through the park across the street from our house at 10:59 p.m., his blond head visible under the street lamps.  His curfew was eleven and he knew better then to push the perimeter. Punishment would be swift and forthcoming possibly physical, it was still the sixties, although nothing out of hand. The old man was just trying to raise good citizens.

My father's war experience was different from my husband's Vietnam tour.  There were no ticker tape parades for Dave and no one yelled " you goddamned baby killer" at Sonny.  World War II had a lot of party elements, check out the movies that originated during that era. Comedies and romances, even musicals with privates dancing up a storm with wasp-waisted WACs, and not a Platoon or Born on the Fourth of July in the lot of them.  After Ima Jima the sergeant entered the barracks and asked each soldier, what did you do before the war, what did you do before the war and so on down the line.  When they got to Sonny, he had been a welder at the sprawling John Deere plant.  They whisked him off to Guam and "that's how I spent the remainder of the war," he wistfully reports, welding battleships back together.  Thank god, Dad, thank god for that gig.  And here we are, all your children, healthy, alive, and may I say again, here.

1 comment:

MrDaveyGie said...

yeah, I noticed everything is getting louder in pa's household, I think he needs the batteries checked in his hearing aid, or maybe it's turned off.....