The Hendersonville Standard Blog
The Hendersonville Standard Blog
Celebrating Father's Day
Oh we ain't got a barrel of money Maybe we're ragged and funny
But we'll travel along, singin' our song, side by side
- Lyrics by Gus Kahn, Music by Harry M. Woods
I suppose this little ditty written in 1927 has more meaning to me than any of the thousands of songs I’ve heard in my life. It’s not that the words are so profound or that the melody is so captivating; It’s not that I’m attached to any of the dozens of singers who have recorded the song through the years. It’s how I learned the song; sitting ‘side by side’ with my father.
My dad bought a Volkswagen Bus in the late 60s when they were primarily known as Hippie Wagons. It was a time before today’s luxurious mini-vans. The VW Bus was a stripped down, no frills vehicle. We didn’t need such a vehicle for our family of four, but it had lots of room to haul lots of kids and that was all that mattered to my dad, known as Uncle Corky to family and friends. He wore out two such vehicles hauling church kids to events and boy scouts to innumerable meetings and campouts.
In the front were two bucket seats separated by a little pathway leading to the first bench seat. In order to free up space for one more kid, my dad built a little stool for the space. It became my seat. I was a skinny little kid (yes, I’ve got pictures to prove it) so it wasn’t a problem. Besides, dad taught me how to shift gears and I thought it I was pretty cool to get to do such a grown-up thing. It was a perk of being Uncle Corky’s kid.
It was my seat when the bus was filled from top to bottom, front to back with kids, backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents. And it was my seat when the rest of the bus was completely empty.
One of the few times I would be in the bus alone with my dad was Friday nights for about a two-year period when he volunteered to be Scoutmaster at the Tennessee School for the Blind. Even though he was already heading up my Cub Scout pack, serving as an assistant Scoutmaster for my brother’s troop and filling the role of Youth Leader at church, he couldn’t say no to a group of young men who needed some help.
I would go with him every Friday night. We met some amazing young people who demonstrated what it meant to overcome adversity and we made some lifelong friendships. It’s also where I was introduced to my second favorite high school sport, wrestling, but that’s another story.
My memory tells me our trips to the Friday night meetings were rather quiet. I suppose dad was thinking about what needed to be done that night. It was different on the way home. As we sat side by side, dad taught the ditty and we would sing it together, the entire song, over and over. I would sing the lead part and dad would harmonize. We would always end the song with a flourish as if we were singing it on The Ed Sullivan Show.
I’m not sure my 1o-year-old brain comprehended the significance of that song and the time I spent with dad. But I did only 11 years later when he left this life way too soon at the age of 47. I realize now how fortunate I was to have such a great relationship with my father. I realize now that not every dad shows love to their kids, not every dad spends time with their kids and not every dad builds a special stool to keep their youngest by their side.
I recall the words he would say to me every night when we shared a hug and a kiss before bedtime, “Son, I love you more than you’ll ever know.” With no children of my own, I suppose that statement will be forever true.
I hope everyone will take extra time this weekend to celebrate Father’s Day and cherish the time you have to be side by side.
See you next week.