Dad, aka Herman, was a road warrior throughout his career, even before that term existed! And, all of his career was spent trying to keep other road warriors safe. His first job, post college, was with the now extinct Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) – a Federal agency tasked with transportation law and safety. Dad recently shared with me an article written about him and published in the ICC Newsletter in April, 1965 about his role as a motor vehicle safety inspector. He has been around, inside, outside, and under trucks, busses, trains, and who knows what else, ensuring that they were compliant with safety rules and regulations. Dad frequently told horror stories of trucks and busses hauling people and cargo while seriously neglecting safety issues – like running on bald tires. I still give tree hauling trucks in north Florida a wide berth for that reason. Most interesting to me in the ICC Newsletter write up was about Dad’s use of his personal movie camera (8mm, I believe) to document safety issues. He made films and created a training movie that was later duplicated and shared throughout the ICC. He was way ahead of his time in making training videos and this carried throughout his ICC career of 31 years and the 20+ years he spent after retirement from the ICC as Safety Director at a major trucking firm. Our shared connection with cameras was not really part of my upbringing, though I recall him using a 35 mm camera and shooting slide film, but seeing this article from all those years ago made something “click” in my mind (pun intended). Like Mom, Dad was always welcoming of my brothers’ and my friends. At some point, the tradition of Sunday night pizza began and there were always 2 to 4, or more, of our friends joining us for dinner. Dad seemed to enjoy making the run to Godfather’s Pizza and he even had his own insulated pizza bags for the run. As much as he traveled, we certainly had plenty of family time, often involving fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. He never seemed tired from his 4 to 5 days per week on the road, though I know I am when I now follow in his footsteps, or miles behind the wheel! Reminiscing and reflecting on his adventures has been a highlight of recent downsizing – going through the memories he unpacks has been enlightening. He has a phenomenal repertoire of jokes and stories; his outgoing personality is tremendous. And, if you want to know the best Bar-B-Que spots in Florida, Georgia and maybe beyond, he’ll point you the right direction.
David’s dad is David’s dad, but to me, he is “MY Herman.” I am as fond of my father-in-law, Herman, as I am of my mother-in-law, Carole. This being said, My Herman and I have always had a special relationship. I share Herman’s love of barbeque, particularly ribs, and I have always appreciated his knowledge regarding the best barbeque restaurant at wherever my travels might take me. Herman enjoys telling jokes, and although some are more funny than others, his enjoyment of telling jokes and pulling pranks on unsuspecting people is hilarious to me. I don’t remember jokes very well, but when Herman retired, I told my favorite Herman joke to the large audience who attended his retirement party. (Interestingly, Herman is Southern Baptist and a lifelong teetotaler, but my favorite joke of his involves a bear, a bar, and a rather risqúe punch line!) When David and I used to accompany his parents on family outings, it was I who always rode “shotgun” in the front passenger seat while Herman drove, with David and his mom sitting cozily in the rear seats. Often, during car rides, Herman and I engaged in one conversation, with David and his mom talking about something completely different. Herman and I have four matching shirts and we love, absolutely love, wearing one of our matching shirts whenever we are together. Seeing people’s reactions to us, while we are dressed identically, is amazingly fun! Strangers approach us and say, “You two are really cool! I love your shirts!” every time we go someplace in one of our matching shirts and we both beam with delight. Herman knows I love The Beatles and he frequently sends me articles about The Beatles from local newspapers and the internet. He enjoys hearing me play my very, very loudly amplified bass guitar; he told me once that the blues songs I play remind him of church hymns. How cool is that? Recently, he remarked that he was so very proud of me and everything I have accomplished and was even happier that I joined his family when I married David. I couldn’t ask for a better father-in-law or, for that matter, a better friend. I am proud to know you, MY Herman!