My dad was always an early riser. He would get up and make coffee and be sitting at the table reading the paper listening to the radio every morning that I can remember. My brothers and I would join him, and Dad would make us coffee/milk with lots of sugar. Through the years we had different morning routines depending on our age. When I was really little, I would make a little squealing noise and Dad would come get me out of bed and carry me to the table. He continued this routine with my little sister until she was too big to be carried. Then he set a pillow in a chair especially for her and tucked a blanket around her and made her coffee and cereal – all without her speaking.
Sometimes Dad would get us dressed and take us somewhere for coffee. I think it was his way of giving Mom some time away from us kids. Getting to go with Dad was always special. I remember sitting at Woody’s Village Inn in RR when Pete was about a year old. Dad ordered him a coke, and we tried to teach Pete to drink with a straw. Pete blew coke all over everything. We thought we were in trouble, but Dad just laughed. In the cabin up Bitter Creek in Red River, we had a huge table with a bench down one side and old chairs down the other – all in front of a picture window. When Craig and I got up in the mornings, we would stand in our bedroom door and wait until Dad turned in his chair. He would clap his hands and hold them open for us in a "lets do it" motion. Then we would run and jump in his lap. We actually broke some of the old chairs with this morning ritual. When we moved into the Green Mountain Lodge, our bedroom was upstairs so Dad did not carry us to the table – we were getting a bit big for that anyway. Craig and I often stopped on our way downstairs and sat at the top of the stairs – at the first floor ceiling level – where the warm air had risen. That old lodge was drafty and that was a warm place before we headed down for coffee.
One morning memory we kids share is playing ball with our dog, Pumpkin. That dog could catch a tennis ball like no other dog – he was great. Dad was drinking his coffee and reading the paper while we threw the ball to Pumpkin. Dad told us to stop throwing the ball in the house, but we threw it one more time. It bounced off Pumpkin’s nose and landed perfectly in Dad’s coffee cup without knocking it over. Of course, coffee was displaced onto Dad’s newspaper. If we hadn’t been so frozen with fear, we probably would have cheered the perfect placement of the ball. It was plumb amazing. I think Dad was awed too. I don’t remember getting in trouble, but I do remember that we stopped throwing the ball in the house.
As teenagers, we began going our separate ways in the mornings. Maybe we slept in more. The rituals fell by the wayside. But on Saturday mornings I would get up early with Dad. We would go to the Pup and Rowdy games during football season. Sometimes we would hit the junkyards and antique stores in the old part of WF. Dad and I would walk together holding hands like when I was little. He would tell me about growing up in WF, delivering newspapers, working for his uncles, who lived where, etc. These were special times for me. It gave me a special relationship with Dad that my brothers did not have. Later in life they would wonder why. Maybe Dad was busy making men out of his boys, but he could spoil me. Maybe it was that my personality just meshed with Dad, but mostly, it was that I was just a Daddy’s girl. Pure and simple.