Dad turns 92 Today

Happy 92nd Dad!

Though 600 miles away, I can envision my dad playing solitaire in his special room stocked with his favorite possessions including this Pennsylvania RxR kerosene lantern he lights almost daily. At 92 today, he is still independent and does what he pleases every day.

Korean Conflict–Dad holding a 45 cal. Thompson

Though a recipient of the bronze star, Dad would not talk about the war while we were growing up. About twenty years ago, he finally began talking as the V.A. convinced him to make weekly visits to Jefferson Barracks for group sessions. Nearly all the men in his group have now passed away, but we’re glad Dad can finally talk about the events he endured that traumatized him in his early years.

A Proud Moment–the Honor Flight

A few years ago, Dad took the Honor Flight to Washington D.C. and spent the day touring. The veterans did not know of the huge homecoming awaiting them when they returned to St. Louis International Airport late that night (at least my dad didn’t know). I put out a plea to my blog readers, Facebook friends and teacher colleagues to send cards for my dad, providing them all necessary details. Thanks to these lovely people, I was able to hand Dad an enormous canvas mailbag stuffed with cards containing the most touching messages inside. Dad frequently takes the bag down from the hook in his room to re-read every one of those cards. At least once a year while visiting, I read them too. I cannot sufficiently thank those of you who wrote and touched him so.

Home from the War Bonding with his Beagle
In the Park with Me, his First Born
Turvey’s Corner 63050

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book of my watercolors and stories titled Turvey’s Corner 63050. The town is fictional as is the Zip Code lying midway between the town where I grew up (High Ridge 63049) and where I attended church and high school (House Springs 63051). My opening story in this manuscript is based on my Dad, though the setting is fictional as is his name:

Early morning polar winds snapped through the narrow valley of Turvey’s Corner, a Missouri town still sleeping through the harsh winter. George Singleton emerged from the Terra Lounge bar with his snow shovel and leaned forward into the frigid air. Overnight winds had hardened the drifts across the walkway, and he felt the sting in his cheeks as the wind cut across his face. As he bent to his task, a loud cacophonous whistle from a Frisco Railroad F9 diesel signaled its approach to the crossing, half a block from the tavern, and George felt beneath his boots the vibrations of the thundering freight cars as they rolled by. Assorted box cars and rusting reefer cars crawled through the town, the bells continuing to clang with lights alternately blinking at the crossing.

Turning his head, George looked back up the empty street to regather his thoughts. It was a sixteen-degree December morning in Turvey’s Corner, and his mind was numb to the possibilities of anything memorable happening on this particular day. The Korean Conflict was two years behind him, the 38th parallel over 7,000 miles away. But Randy, his first-born son, not yet a year old, slumbered in a dark bedroom on the second story above. These thoughts caused George to smile in the face of the frozen morning, forgetting the stiffness in his lower back.

George had just opened a new chapter in his life. Striving to put the madness of the war behind him and determining not to return to the shores of the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri to resume the impoverished tenant farm life that had raised him, he set his compass toward St. Louis in search of a better life. For two years he had served his country overseas, and now returning, wondered if his country, his government, really had anything to offer him. The Missouri motto he was forced to memorize in the country school salus populi supreme lex esto (let the welfare of the people be the supreme law) never penetrated to his center of belief. Convinced of the need to provide for his own welfare and that of his new family, he came to Turvey’s Corner, invested the army pay he had sent home to his folks for two years in this tavern property, and was determined to make it work.

Turvey’s Corner, population 582, was situated on Highway 30, twenty-three miles southwest of St. Louis. Historic Route 66 lay a few miles north of town but was beginning to deteriorate with the arrival of Interstate 44 that bypassed the once thriving midwestern towns. George was O.K. with that, however. In the army he had lived a life surrounded by hordes of men in close quarters. He was ready to carve out a livelihood in a town that time would likely forget.

Happy Birthday, Dad, and thank you for providing us with a good life growing up. I’ll phone you a little later today.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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13 Responses to “Dad turns 92 Today”

  1. doubledacres Says:

    Please relay a Happy Birthday wish from me to him. Thank you my friend. My dad will turn 87 on the 23rd.

    Like

  2. theartlabtx Says:

    That’s amazing what your dad did for our country! Happy birthday to him. I hope it was a great one.

    Like

  3. davidtripp Says:

    Just got off the phone with him. He sounds really happy.

    Like

  4. Dian Darr Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. I salute him and say, Happy Birthday! I am so thankful for our unsung heroes such as your dad. Has he read this chapter Turvey’s Corner??

    Like

  5. Brizzy Mays Books and Bruschetta Says:

    A delightful tribute to your Da. 🙂

    Like

  6. sienablue Says:

    Thank him for his service from another grateful American. May he enjoy many more years of self-sufficiency and the well deserved reward of spending his days as he pleases. My dad was born in St. Louis and we used to visit his family out in Ellisville, Fenton, Manchester, Kirkwood every other summer. I can’t wait for the book–the opening story and the paintings are beautiful.

    Like

    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for writing that. I was shocked to read of the Missouri towns you listed. Not only do I know all of them, but Dad lives 7 miles west of Fenton, in High Ridge. When we travel home to visit them we always book a hotel in Fenton, and enjoy their Barnes & Noble & Starbucks venues. Thank you for your interest in my book. It’s coming very slowly, but I’m enjoying its growth.

      Like

  7. sienablue Says:

    I haven’t been there in over 30 years. I have one cousin and her extended family living in Villa Ridge. I recently looked up my grandmother’s little house on Google Maps. Saplings that she planted are tall trees now. I am at that age where it’s hard to believe how many years have passed.

    Like

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