Hi Friends! I hope you have had a great week!May has been filled with all kinds of wonderful things, hasn’t it? Last week we talked about Mother’s Day, and how precious that relationship is, whether you are a mom or a kid (let’s face it, every single one of us is a kid!). I had a lovely Mother’s Day!
And then this week something else wonderful happened! My father had a birthday! My dad turned 90! Now I may be a little biased, but I have the coolest dad in the world! So I wanted today to share just a few of my favorite stories my dad has shared with me over the years.
Awhile back, I asked my father to share some memories that stand out to him from when he was a child. I ask him questions like this a lot because I just love hearing his stories of the past. This is a picture of my father taken this past Christmas holding a picture of himself as a teenager. I just love this picture!
My father was born in May of 1929. That means he was born at the beginning of the Great Depression. He was the 3rd of 5 kids. I can only imagine the delight in his parents’ hearts when they looked at that beautiful precious baby boy!
My dad shared all sorts of things about growing up. He remembered his mom making root beer… the best root beer ever! He said when she would make it, it had to sit a certain number of days before it was ready. And man oh man was it good! (I may have to try this for a Tasty Tuesday recipe!)
His dad played the fiddle, and loved to sing fun songs with the kids. My dad taught us kids some of the same songs his father taught him. My dad would strike up one of those songs while driving us in the car. I can’t tell you what fun it was to hear him start singing. He has a very deep and beautiful voice. He would always sing songs that were meant to make you laugh, and we would just about burst with laughter when he would teach us some songs that he may have made up right there on the fly. I remember one he taught us, “Grasshopper Sitting on a Railroad Track”. And the chorus went something like “Reemo Rhyme-oh, Keem-oh, Kyme-oh, Rump Stump Penny Nickel Ice Water Soup Bag Nip Cat Sing Song Kitty Won’t You Kye Me Oh!” Did any of you learn that song? Does it get much better than that? Not for a kid!
One of my favorite Dad stories was from when he was maybe 8 or 9, during the Great Depression. He said that every Wednesday night during the summer, they would have free movie night, and they would show movies outside. People brought their blankets, there would be quite a crowd that would come. The movies were a wonderful escape for people during the Depression. And bringing all those people into town could be good for business as well as morale. Well, they always had a drawing at the end of the movie. As people arrived, they were given a ticket to write their name on, and it would go in for the drawing at the end of the night, and there would be a prize.
You can imagine how exciting it would be to have a chance for a prize! Especially after a free movie! It really was a fun social gathering. There were a couple of prizes. One of them was a 50 lb bag of sugar. Now with food rations and times being tough, a 50 lb bag of sugar would be a really big deal for a family!
The tickets would go into a big barrel shaped cage with a crank on one end. They put it up on a farm flat bed so everyone could see. And every week they would pick a young kid to pull the winning ticket. And one week it was my dad’s turn to pull the ticket! You can imagine how excited he was! It was an important job! So all the crowds were gathered around to see who would win the 50 lb bag of sugar! And all the tickets were in the barrel, and he began to turn the crank, and you could see all the tickets mixing in there.
And then one of the men opened the cage door and told my dad to go ahead and pull out a ticket. His heart was pounding because this was serious business! He reached his young hand into the barrel and pulled out a ticket and handed it to the man in charge to read to the crowd. And the man yelled out, “And the winner is… Doug Shanks!” and everyone looked around waiting for the lucky winner to claim his prize. My dad looked around too. The man repeated, “Doug Shanks! Is there a Doug Shanks here?” My dad looked across the crowd, taking this moment very seriously. Quiet! No one responded.
And then the man looked at my dad, who was about 10 years of age and said, “Son, isn’t that your name?” And it dawned on him he had just won the 50 lb bag of sugar! He was so excited! First he got to be the ticket puller and then he won the grand prize! The stars were truly aligned in his favor that night!
Every Wednesday night my dad had hauled his little red wagon with him to the movies just in case he won that 50 lb bag of sugar. This night he would be hauling it home with a sweet load to surprise his mom!
There are so many things I love about that story! I love that even in the hardest of times, people still found ways to come together as a community for fun and entertainment. I love that people organized the night, lined up the movies and made them free, and that they had a prize to stir up even more excitement for the people. Everyone was welcome. I love that they picked a child every week to be a part of the drawing! I love that someone donated a 50 lb bag of sugar for the prize! And I love that my dad as a young boy had hopes every single Wednesday of winning that prize, so much so that he brought the wagon to cart it home on. That is a positive spirit!
My dad is still that way. He sees hope in everybody and everything. That is such a rare and beautiful gift! He sees helping people out as a total win. When you help someone out, it could be just the thing that turns things around for that person! Everyone wins when someone who was in trouble gets back on their feet and begins to have hopes and dreams again! That is powerful stuff!
My sister Susan called him on his birthday this week, and asked him what he was going to do for his birthday. He told her, “Well, I’m going to open a new business!” He’s not kidding! My dad has dabbled in all kinds of businesses over the years. He still works at age 90, and has no plans to stop. I remember him telling me when he turned 80 that he was going to take a week off when he turned 90. I love his enthusiasm!
This picture below shows my handsome father on the far right, and my handsome husband on the left, two handsome sons Shane and Jake, and my handsome nephew Seth in the front. Be still my heart!
This picture below is when Dad organized a big outing for the guys in the family. He lined up tickets for the Harlem Globetrotters. They rented this big ole van (I think they still had to take a few extra cars) and you see in this picture my dad, and sons, grandsons, sons in law, a couple of extra friends, and one granddaughter. They had a blast! I am so glad he did this!
I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have such great parents. They have persevered through so much together. And they have given me such an incredible example of keeping your chin up and finding the good in every situation. My dad is one of those people that has a new dream at all times that he is working on. Even when people say, “No, that will never work,” or “It’s too hard,” my dad quietly goes about the business of making that one thing they said was impossible actually happen. I’ve seen him do it over and over. And at age 90, he is showing no signs of slowing down. And you know what? It brings him joy and excitement! What a powerful thing when you allow your heart to hope and dream and then you act on it!
I could tell you a million more stories but I will save some for next year’s birthday, and the year after that, and so on.
And so, I wish my Dad a very Happy Birthday! I love you, Dad with all my heart! Thank you for a million smiles, laughters, lessons and incredible acts of kindness to me and so many others! Thank you for teaching me in every breath that you breathe to never give up on my dreams, and to love people unconditionally. And I thank the Lord for putting me with the absolute perfect Mom and Dad I could ever hope for! I love them dearly.
And to you, my friend, I hope you will allow yourself the gift of dreaming big dreams again, no matter where you have been or what you have been through. And to dare to act on them! Whether its starting a new business or trying something you have always wanted to do. You can do it! And I just know you are going to be great at it! The world is just waiting to see what your next move is going to be!
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person. He believed in me.” ~Jim Valvano