What a dreadful thing it must be to have a dull father.
– Mary Mapes Dodge
A Red Hat
Dad was always saying something to get himself into trouble with Mom. Mom would get back at him by not talking to him for a month or two. Mom is Irish and can really hold a grudge. You know the routine. “Tell your father this or that”. Dad would be sitting right there in front of us and I would have to repeat what Mom said. If Dad answered, Mom would say, “Tell your father I am not talking to him. Tell him to tell you and then you can tell me.” It was monotonous. I was the child in the family, but I wondered who the child really was.
Mom’s favorite color was red. Once when we were shopping in Frear’s Department Store in downtown Troy, my mother decided to try on a red hat. Hats were very popular in the Fifties. Frear’s was THE department store in Troy and was famous for its huge wrought iron staircase. The hat department was on the second floor. The saleswoman said to my mother “That hat goes so well with your gray hair.” My father laughed and said “Yea, I always take my mother shopping.” My mother didn’t buy the hat and did not talk to Dad for a couple of months. She frequently reminded him of this incident throughout his entire lifetime.
Another time, my father’s younger brother, Harold, nicknamed Butch, was getting married. I was asked to be the flower girl and I was about seven. My mother decided to give Uncle Butch’s fiancé, Joan, a bridal shower. My mother wanted everything to be perfect for her in-laws. Bridal showers were given in people’s homes in the fifties. This was the first bridal shower that I ever attended and I thought because it was called a shower, the bride-to-be took a shower. I don’t remember what we ate, but I was awfully surprised when my soon-to-be Aunt Joan didn’t take a shower????
The color for the bridesmaids’ dresses was pink. My mother did not have a pink tablecloth, but she had a new pink sheet that was never used. She decided to use that sheet for the tablecloth. My father escaped the shower and went out with some of the guys that night. When he got home, the women were still at the house so he announced “If you ladies would just go home, I could take the sheet off the table and go to bed!”
My mother was mortified. After all, this was Dad’s side of the family and she was trying to make a good impression which he ruined. Guess how long we did the “Tell your father” thing this time.
Once we were having lunch and Dad asked me to get the mustard out of the refrigerator. Mom had made the baloney sandwiches and then served us so the mustard was not on the table. “Your mother never puts enough mustard on my sandwiches.”
“What? I have been making your sandwiches for twenty-one years, Bill Hannay and you never once told me that you wanted more mustard?” shouted my mother.
The next day Mom put a brand-new bottle of mustard in Dad’s lunch pail with his baloney sandwich and when they started putting mustard in little packets, Dad got a box full for Christmas.
Dad Loved Fish
Being Catholic, we often had fish for supper on Friday. Lots of time, we had pizza, but other times we would have either fish fries from Ted’s Fish Fry in Watervliet or from a fish market near Dad’s work. During Lent, the lines at these fish places were long. On my birthday, I was often taken to Howard Johnson’s in East Greenbush and Dad and I would order the Fisherman’s Platter.
On one Friday in Lent, we were eating fish at home and Dad told me “One of the reasons I married your mother was because she is Catholic. And because she is Catholic, I always knew we would have fish on Fridays.” Mom, of course, heard this and told him “Lucky for you I am Catholic or else I would divorce you.” Dad got a sheepish look on his face and was quiet the rest of the evening.