I walked down an aisle at the grocery last week and saw sesame sticks. Not far away were malted milk balls. They both made me think of Dad. We once went to a salad bar that had sesame sticks on it and Dad came home with pockets full. That was probably as far as he went into criminal activity but we always liked to remind him about those signs on salad bars that warn you not to take food home. If malted milk balls were found on salad bars, I am pretty sure he would’ve loaded up on them also.
Dad liked to talk about how Grandpa threw him into Paint Creek and told him to learn to swim. He didn’t do that to me but on my way home from getting my driver’s permit, he did park our old van halfway up Ross Hill Road and had me get behind the wheel to get it the rest of the way up. That van was a three speed on the column and driving it up that hill was not the same as driving it around the church parking lot. We rolled all the way down the hill backwards before I was able to get us moving forward. Dad just sat there.
Most of the time he was a bit more animated. One example includes the time he played the drunk in a church play. He messed his hair, removed his teeth, and staggered back and forth up the center aisle clutching a brown bag, nearly falling down three or four times.
In some conversations he talked about sports celebrities as if he knew them. They certainly seemed to be on a first name basis. Hopalong Cassady was “Hop.” John Havlicek was “Hondo.” Ted Kluszewski was “Klu.” He also made it sound like he knew Bill Russell and Jerry Lucas. We were pretty sure he knew other celebrities as well. The way he talked about Roy Rogers and Wyatt Earp made it seem as if he had seen them just the other day.
During these days that hand washing has become part of regular conversation, I am reminded how Dad taught me to wash hands. He would lather up and then surround my hands with his and tell me to rub and rinse.
Sheltering in place would have just given him a reason to stay at home watching reruns of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (of course, Dad just called him “Gibbs”) on television and warning people not to break rule number nine. I don’t think he would have been too bothered by the coronavirus. I suspect he had always thought he would like to wear a mask into public places. He would probably role play as if he were Jesse James (I think he was on a first name basis with him also). Wearing a mask would just increase his urge to act as if he were holding up salad bars so he could stock up on sesame sticks and malted milk balls.