After my father passed away this past June, my brother and I helped my mother clean out his office. He was a notorious pack rat, and his messy office was a bone of contention between him and my mother for most of their 65 years of marriage. She’d beg him to purge his office of things he did not need, or rarely used. His solution was to simply move one pile from the desk to the chair and call it done.
Crammed into the back of the closet, was a box full of correspondence between him and his college roommate dating back to the early 50’s. Sprinkled amongst the papers were old pictures, funny newspaper articles he had saved, and even his former roommates elementary school report cards. In other words, it was a treasure trove of information about my parents life as newlyweds, commentary about life in Phoenix during the 50’s and 60’s, and funny stories about my brother and me.
There are over 200 pieces of correspondence that I have yet to go through, but I have found a few jewels that need to be shared with the world. The majority of letters were written on a manual typewriter, using onionskin paper, which means my father kept a copy of every letter he sent to his friends. Unfortunately, my father did not always date his letters, or only put the month and day, making it supremely difficult to put them in chronological order.
The first excerpt I want to share with you is a letter dated October 18th (year unknown) to his friend Fred Irving. I am typing it verbatim without any grammatical corrections. I am not sure if this is a true story or the retelling of a joke. I will let you be the judge. Either way, it’s comedy gold in my book.
FYI: Humboldt, IL is my father’s home town
Two miles south and two miles west of Humboldt lives an old gentleman named Al Hoots. He is very old. One time he had to call someone about something or other and when he rang the phone to get “central” she didn’t answer right away.
He cranked the phone a couple more times and when the operator finally answered Mr. Hoots kinda griped at your neighbor to the east and all his employees, especially this particular operator. Evidently the operator had had a bad time out as Skyline Spring or in Ryan’s cabins or somewhere before she came to work and she too, was kinda upset.
So when Mr. Hoots demanded to be connected with his party she disliked the tone of his voice and gave him a curt reply. One word led to another and Mr. Hoots got real griped and told the operator that she could take that telephone and stick it up her a**.
This provoked the lady and she reported the incident to her immediate superior and the complaint went on up the chain of command until it reached someone with authority, who promptly decided that the Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company didn’t have to take that kind of talk off of no one, especially a subscriber.
So this person of authority immediately dispatched a couple of linemen in a truck to the residence of Mr. Hoots with the order that either he call the operator and apologize, or they were to bring his phone back to town.
Mr. Hoots was informed of the mandate. He got up slowly from his rocking chair, walked to the old fashioned wall phone, took the receiver from the hook, and rang for the operator.
“Are you the girl that I told to stick this telephone up her a**?,” he inquired.
She answered in the affirmative.
“Well,” he replied, “get ready, they’re bringing it in!”
BAM! And THIS is the kind of stuff my dad wrote about…and there is more to be unearthed. It’s hard to cry when you miss someone when you are laughing out loud. I am so glad my father left me with the legacy of laughter.
What kind of special memories did your father leave you?