This post is about my Dad. I discovered in my studio an interview I did with him about his early life, and I have to say, hearing his voice again after all these months he has been gone was comforting. Let me tell you about his early life by letting him talk about it to you.
The title describes who he was; the first three titles are verified, the last is the topic of speculation, conjecture, and some outright claims that he was indeed a Cold War spy, but left the business because I was born.
He did admit to learning Russian in the Army after taking Russian Studies at Harvard. He did admit he was recruited by CIA. He did serve in West Germany in the Cold War stationed in the Fulda gap where east to west invasions historically originate. The rest he denied. But then, if you really were a spy, you would deny it, wouldn’t you?
The interview covers considerable material about life in the Army in the late 1950’s both in the United States but also West Germany, where the threat of invasion was from the east, and the decision to send my mother home to Everett for my birth.
As the son of teachers, my paternal grandparents he might have taught, but was drawn to the law for many reasons, primarily he remembered his parents poverty in the 1930’s, living in a rented house with a dirt floor and having fried oatmeal as the daily fare.
So, entering civilian life after the army being a lawyer seemed the thing to do with one child at home and another on the way.
We hear a lot about student loans today. Mostly about how impossibly large they are and the government should do something about it.
Dad did not have that problem because he did not look for student loans. I learned in my interview with him the Great Depression left a fear of debt I was not aware of before. He somehow served during a time when there was no GI Bill either.
He did have a job however. My maternal grandfather, Spud Hartman, found him a position at the mill here in Everett, my hometown. Dad applied himself, working graveyard, going to school during the day and napping a lot, sleeping on weekends.
Recall it was only 1970 the Eisenhower Administration initiative to create an interstate highway system found its way to the Seattle area, so in 1959 Dad began commuting down old Highway 99, which to this day is vigorous. Imagine his schedule, work all night, drive to Seattle, attend class, return to Everett. Repeat.
It was hard for him to listen to whining about student loans before he died. It was harder still to write, as one night he cut his thumb off on a saw at the mill. He had some time off, but soldiered on.
In 1963 he was involved in a car accident at the Twin Teepees Restaurant and lounge at Green Lake in Seattle. Waiting for the police he heard John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. One of my early memories is watching the funeral on the television my grandfather Spud had won in the 1954 Salmon Derby.
Somehow my parents found enough money to take us to Disneyland in 1967, just four years later.
I have not had the creative edge I once had before he passed in June 2021. This is my first posting since May of that year, after everything went down for him and he was lost.
The catalyst for this posting was the discovery that contrary to an express promise made to me by the Washington State Bar monthly publication Bar News to add him to the annual Remembrance page in the February issue he was left off.
More than 50 years of practice as a lawyer seems to not make the cut any more, however the bar still does fete those who survive that long with a lunch.
But then afterward we are apparently forgotten. In our disposable culture I presume he was kicked to the curb, obsolete and irrelevant, not on the agenda.
So I am doing the work of the state bar, leaving a record of a man who deserves to be remembered for more than his bar number, #91, an impossibly low number now. (I personally have a case against a lawyer whose bar number is over 50,000.) He was a lawyers lawyer, the Atticus Finch of our town. Local hero and straight arrow.
My sister and I are the benefactors of two generations of such struggle, and my children thrive because of it. While it is terribly hard to have lost my Dad, it was somehow comforting to discover this interview I did with him in 2016. The bar association might forget him, but we will not.
This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember’ed- we few, we happy few.
Henry V, Act IV Scene 3