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Father’s Day Tribute June 19, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in People, Poetry.
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Two years ago, the Anna Maria Islander held a Father’s Day Tribute Contest, soliciting favorite stories from readers about their fathers.

Written as a poem, my submission, selected for publication, shares a look at my father’s early life ~ a veteran who grew up in rural Vermont during the Great Depression, dealing with government rationing during World War II.

The poem also touches upon his fraternity initiation, enlistment in the Army, his role of counter-intelligence agent just before the Korean War,  unexpected guests on his honeymoon in Maine, his work on Telstar, and the arrival of his four children and nine grandchildren.

50th Anniversary ~ 2005

In 1928, on a cold February morn, at the home of a Vermont neighbor
Mary Helen Hatch was about to give birth ~ she had definitely gone into labor
Instead of arriving the “usual” way, in a hospital room filled with flowers
My dad arrived on Valentine’s Day, at the home of a Mrs. Bowers

Of his early years, he recalls very little ~ his memories are far between and few
He did watch the rebuilding of Lull Brook Bridge at the tender age of two
Another morning, my dad heard a loud bang while still lying asleep in his bed
Through a window, at 100 yards, his father had shot a noisy crow in the head

One Christmas, my dad looked under the tree, for something he would like
There it was, what he wanted most . . . a brand-new-to-him child’s bike!
Even though it was snowy that winter . . . and the yard was filled with ice
He went outside and learned to ride, after getting dumped off once or twice

For allowing his dad to lance an infection, he was promised a treat at the store
When offered candy, he shook his head, thinking he deserved a little bit more
Instead of candy, he wanted something “big” to reward him for his brave role
Amused by the negotiations, his dad agreed ~ my dad got a new fishing pole!

My dad wanted to help our great nation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
He volunteered and then trained to become an Air Recognition Officer
After a night shift, at the observation post, riding home in the dark on his bike
He reached down to pet a dog running by and just missed a porcupine’s spike!

During the war, the government rationed supplies of gas, rubber, and meat
Dad raised a calf and two hundred roosters ~ so his family had plenty to eat
Determined to study engineering, dad left home for Northeastern University
Once in Boston, he arranged to stay at, and then pledge, a friend’s fraternity

As a pledge of the frat, Phi Gamma Pi, my dad stoically endured Hell Week
Members shaved his head and beat his butt red, offering a tub of ice for relief
Later that week, my dad got notice to have an Army physical for the draft
The psychiatrist there, looked at his hair, and decided dad must be quite daft

For circled around, the top of his crown, a band of scalp defied explanation
When dad said, “the frat shaved my head,” he received his 1A classification
Assigned to Espionage and Sabotage, dad enjoyed being a Special Agent
Before discharge, he accepted 4 promotions: Corporal to Technical Sergeant

Mom & Dad ~ 4 kids . . . 9 grandkids

After the army and college, he met my mom, and, in 1955, they agreed to wed
They headed to New England as soon as their heartfelt I do‘s had been said
Their honeymoon in Maine delighted . . . until one evening in Baxter State Park
When swarms of mosquitoes, uninvited, decided to join them after dark

Four children arrived in rapid succession . . . the last in nineteen sixty one
Counting heads (two boys and two girls), they decided they were done
While mom fed, clothed, and cared for four kids, dad kept tabs from afar
He was back in Maine most weeks . . . getting ready to launch Project Telstar

During the weeks preceding the launch, my dad worked 14 hours a day
He rented a cottage on a lake in Maine, where his four kids could play
The cabin was a bit rustic, with a woodstove and a primitive outhouse
But it came fully furnished . . . with bats in the belfry and a small mouse

Project Telstar was a success, watched by execs from the Labs and AT&T
My dad supervised the satellite acquisition . . . appearing on live TV
After the launch, he learned that he’d received a prestigious promotion
Working as a department head to end telephone noise, static, and commotion

The years flew by, the children scattered . . . heading out on their own
All four married, and three had kids, so dad’s extended family has grown
The first grandchild arrived in nineteen ninety one ~ a healthy baby boy!
Over the next eight years, eight more grandkids appeared, adding to his joy

The years since dad’s arrival (1928 – present) have flown by in a flash
But that’s okay, it really is . . . because he fit lots of life into that dash

Happy Father’s Day!

Related posts:  An Age Old Question . . . Old AgeThe Case of the Missing ChildFather’s Day Tribute (Positive Parenting) Father’s Day (Mirth & Motivation)