Don’t ever buy a 1958 Johnson Outboard.
My intent is not to recreate history about past events with my Dad. It was a complex relationship at times it was rocky. The last 15 years or so our relationship was pretty good. So unfiltered ready or not here we go.
“God Damn boat motor,” Dad was frustrated. Texas City, Texas the 1958 Johnson outboard motor was uncooperative on this sunny pleasant day along the coast. This was not the first time that motor had let us down. We were towed in once from the bay. I swore I’d never get back on the damn boat again. Yet here I was watching my Petroleum Engineer father who was a bright guy, but knew nothing of the nuances of an old Johnson outboard.
This particular motor had an uncanny ability to develop a new ailment that would derail a day on the water. Any attachment I had to it had long since been dismissed. It was junk, not worthy of time, money, or the worry it caused once you left the dock. I had been lobbying for something newer and more reliable. My pleading fell on deaf ears so here we sat broken down in Texas City.
If profanity could have fixed it, we would have had the finest outboard in Texas. This day Dad was in good form. The profanity did not lack in quality or quantity. Bloody knuckles on both hands the motor was having none of it. Gasoline was leaking all over the back of the boat. It was beginning to form pools around the gas tank.
Dad smoked sporadically most of his life. Pipe, cigarettes, cigars the more disgusting it appeared the better. He was sneaking Swisher Sweets at the very end of his life. Apparently he was from a line of sneakers, his dad kept a bottle in his work shed.
While trying to coax the outboard back to life, he was smoking a cigar. It does not make sense. Does it? I did not think so either. I asked him to get rid of the cigar. It was hanging about ten inches from the pool of gasoline in the bottom of the boat. More profanity, I was interfering with the process.
I finally left and went for a walk. I walked what I thought was a safe distance away and had a seat. I waited for him to blow up or burn along with the boat and the cantankerous outboard.
I was waiting for the sound of ignition, but an hour later he surrendered to the outboard and called it quits. How the gasoline did not catch fire, I don’t know. The old outboard lived another day, and screwed up future trips as well.
Don’t order a Monte Cristo sandwich in eastern Colorado.
Monte Cristo, really what would make you order a Monte Cristo Sandwich in Pumpkin Center, Colorado? Dad and I had been out hunting in eastern Colorado. I don’t remember what we were hunting, just time to get out of town and spend some time together. Dad was always hungry, or worried about getting hungry. He usually started talking about food shortly after his last meal. Whenever he would hear someone in the refrigerator, he would request something be brought to him.
It was not much after 10:30 am when he started wondering out loud about lunch possibilities. I told him we are in eastern Colorado, there are not a lot of options and you need to be reasonable in your expectations.
Pumpkin Center, Colorado is east of the mountains setting in a non-descript area of the plains. Its hay day if it ever had one was long since gone. There was a café, but no open sign or other customers anywhere in sight. I suggested we push on another hour without food and venture back into Colorado Springs, CO. He was certain he would perish from starvation before we ever got there.
When we entered, the lady said we could sit anywhere. There was no one else in the place so it seemed like a reasonable option. She brought each of us menus and a small glass of water. My dad was one of those guys who always wanted to know what the special was and if they had pie. Pie was a primary concern and usually ferreted out before any order was placed. Thinking back, I don’t remember him ever walking out of a restaurant over pie. I don’t think what type of pie mattered, they just had to have some kind of pie, and any pie would do.
He ponders the menu for quite a while. The silence was deafening so I ordered a hamburger. I thought he would follow my lead, but he did not. He was still trying to decide amongst all the options. My theory on small town cafés is this. They probably sell more hamburgers than anything else on the menu. It is probably the freshest and they know how to do it. A southwest burger is a different animal. I advise against it.
He finally orders a Monte Cristo Sandwich. I was dumbfounded. “A Monte Cristo Sandwich?” the waitress asked. He had to repeat it to her. Then he had to show it to her on the menu. That is never a good sign. I think she was dumbfounded as I was. “I will have the Monte Cristo,” he said emphatically.
You are not stupid. You know where this is going. An hour into the ride home, his decision was beginning to have consequences. Standing along the roadside sick and complaining is not going to make the trip home any shorter. A string of profanity and we were once again on our way home.
Remembering these two stories has jogged my memory of a couple of other times with Dad. Those will have to wait for now, but I will be back with those as well. For now, I hope sharing my times with Dad will jog a few of your own memories with your Dad.