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Sun, Nov. 17

Old baseball glove prompts some fond memories of Dad

It was old when I got it.

It was part of a set of baseball gloves that my Uncle Walt had given my dad.

There was a catcher's mitt, a first baseman's glove and two fielder's gloves.

It was flat and the pocket was in the palm. Babe Ruth probably used one like it.

Newer gloves had bigger webbing and the fingers were laced together to make it easier to catch and hold onto the ball. I cut holes in the fingers and laced mine together. I was proud that I could catch the ball as well as any of the kids with newer gloves.

My dad loved baseball and I did, too, sort of. I liked to play, but I wasn't very good and I knew it. I couldn't throw very far or hit very well, even though I practiced by throwing the ball against a brick wall of the garage behind our house.

Once in a while, I was able to get my dad to come out and play catch with me. It wasn't easy. After working all day, he would come home tired and want to just rest and watch TV.

We would go out on the front lawn and just throw the ball back and forth. Occasionally, he would complain when I would "burn" one in. Even with a glove on, you caught the ball in the palm of the glove and it would sting like all get out.

I loved playing catch with my dad. It was about the only thing we did together, just him and me. With six kids in the family, his attention was pretty well divided between us and his hobbies. One was carving model airplanes out of wood; the other was baseball.

He had scrapbooks filled with boxscores and pictures he had cut out of the local newspaper.

I can still see him sitting at the kitchen table, listening to a radio program while he worked. He loved shows like "Gang Busters, "The Shadow," "The Thin Man," and others that provided entertainment before television.

I would watch as he carefully traced the outline of a plane wing or a fuselage section onto a piece of balsa wood and then carefully carve it to shape. He made more than 600 models, all at a quarter-inch scale. When his hands could no longer hold a knife, he turned to collecting model trains.

Our family ran on Dad's schedule. He got up at about 6 a.m., and grabbing the current paperback book he was reading, he would go into the bathroom. We kids quickly learned it was a good idea to wait a few minutes before going into the bathroom when Dad finally came out.

Then, he would sit at the table and read while he had his morning coffee. At 7:45, he would go to work and then in the afternoon, we would see his truck coming around the corner and know it was 5 o'clock and time for supper.

He drove the company truck, a large red truck with glass racks on the sides. You could spot it a mile away.

Occasionally, one of the older kids in the family would get a chance to ride in a plane, and the pilot would circle over the town so we could try to spot our house. The first thing we saw was Dad's glass truck parked in front of our house.

Dad loved his job. I think he loved having a part in building the town of Ogden, Utah.

I believe he had put windows into almost every business and most of the houses in Ogden.

His greatest source of pride was the metal-and-glass entrance to the new Mormon Tabernacle. I never go the exact dimensions, but it was about 40 feet wide and three stories high.

Dad always loved building things. He told me of taking over one of the sheds at my aunt's farm and borrowing his uncle's tools to fulfill his dreams. The shed became known as Alan's carpenter shop.

I remember Dad as being kind of short, with a stocky build. His arms were muscled from years of lifting sheets of glass and carefully placing them into window frames.

I remember his bright blue eyes and boyish grin. He had a way of smiling and feigning innocence that would drive my mother nuts. He loved to flirt with the girls at the checkout counter at the grocery stores, at least until they flirted back. Then, he would blush and turn to my mom for help.

He loved a good joke. Even if the joke was on him, he would laugh as hard as anyone. He was not one to take himself seriously.

Growing up during the Great Depression, he had grown up with the old farmer's motto: "use it up, wear it out, make do or do without," and had learned to make do with what he had.

He told stories of working on WPA projects and his struggles to survive those tough times. He told of a time when he and another man were given the task of unloading a dump truck filled with gravel. They each were given a shovel and told to get to work.

He laughed, thinking about it. "We thought it wouldn't take us more than a couple of hours. But, were we wrong," he said. "But it was a job and any kind of job was hard to come by. All you had to do was drop your shovel, and there were 10 guys ready to pick it up."

It was during those times that he met my mother. She lived in Brigham, a small town about 20 miles north of Ogden. He would drive there and pick her up. She said she could tell what kind of week he had had when he bought gas. They would pull up to a gas pump and Dad would hold up one or two fingers, telling the attendant how many gallons they wanted. Two gallons meant he had money and wanted to spend it having fun with her.

Dad never would work on his own cars, but he talked about when he had to fix his own.

He had some friends come over, pick the car up and lay it on its side. After he had finished the repairs, the picked the car up again and set it back on its wheels. You could do that with the old Model Ts and cars like it.

Dad may not have been mechanically inclined, but in some ways he was far ahead of his time. He invented the first remote control.

When we got our first TV set, one of us kids had to sit on the floor near the set so we could turn the volume up or down or change the channel.

Dad was worn out from having to get up and down ever time there was a woman singing or a commercial. He didn't like women on TV. He felt that women should have better things to do than being on TV, but then he also felt that women shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car.

He was definitely not a women's libber, and he didn't care for scenes of romance. He often complained that when did those soldiers ever have time to fight a war; they were always busy hugging and kissing. You might say Dad was more of a man of action.

My brother, Larry, came to the rescue. He made a small plastic box in shop at school, and installed a push button. He hooked it up to the speaker on the TV so Dad could control the volume at will. I could have kissed him.

Dad also pioneered channel surfing: "Wally, turn it on Channel 4. Now, try 5. Go back to 2."

We only had three channels back then, and Dad had to know what was on each one. This went on until my sister, Pat, got him a subscription to the TF Guide. I was grateful. Now I could to back to playing my own games.

I was out playing catch with one of my grandsons the other day.

I still had the old glove from my boyhood, and although the webbing was gone, it looked just the same and I was reminded of those days when my dad and I played catch on the front lawn.

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