Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Boy in Trees

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Boy in Trees
There's a new show on T.V. this year called "Men in Trees". I watched it and discovered that they literally meant the men were in the trees. You know, lumberjack types overhead trimming the branches from the fir trees. Today would have been my parent's seventy-ninth wedding anniversary. I wanted to write about my dad and the unusual life he had. The first thing that popped into my head was the tree thing, so----

Dad was born December 3rd, 1897 in Jonesboro, Arkansas somewhere in the middle of eleven children. Being a very bright little boy, he finished elementary school at twelve and then quit. Quit? He left home and joined his father in the logging camps of Arkansas to help support the family. He was "A Boy in Trees" for four years, until the thirst for knowledge overcame him and he left for the big city. He stuck out his thumb and hitch hiked to Toledo, Ohio where he had cousins, who would allow him to live with them. Between sixteen and nineteen, he attended high school, played football and supported himself in assorted jobs. That was just the first step toward an education. After high school, he began college at the local university and worked for a small newspaper as a reporter, doing a little bit of everything. Also, he worked at the original Jeep production plant.
After getting a degree in education and he started law courses by mail from the University of Chicago and night classes at The University of Toledo. He met my mom and they married somewhere in the middle of law school. The five children arrived starting in 1928, ending in 1936. Great timing--have a whole brood of children during the "Great Depression"! I suppose they had it much better than most people, because as a public employee --- he was paid in script. He had started teaching high school classes in English, Economics, Sociology, Auto Mechanics and World History the day the doors opened to a brand new school and he was coaching football at another high school for free. Because of the children, his law degree was delayed to the point that he could not afford to open an office and give up the safety of the teaching job.
I know he had become a flaming liberal during his college years and yearned for a world where there was no poverty or inequality. He loved to teach about the problems of the world --- we were served history and English with every meal. It was a mistake to ask a question --- that led to a half hour of explaining the hows and whys of the subject. He was active in the union fight at the Autolite Company in Toledo during the depression. This fight made national news for it's bitter physical battles between union loyalists (imported thugs) and the company hierarchy (more hired thugs). About a year after I was born, his picture was all over the local papers and he was temporarily suspended from teaching for reported un-American activities. The problem was that he was now legally an attorney and was busily forming The Federation of Teachers locally. That was the first teacher's union to hit the scene. The fact that he was a card carrying Socialist didn't help a bit. I get the picture of a bunch of young men sitting about and dreaming of how they could make a utopian society where all would have equal status. I wonder how they could have desired to elevate people who did little to help themselves to the level of those who had worked so hard to educate and sustain themselves? He was reinstated to his teaching job after a few months, but still believed that somehow life should be made easier for the downtrodden.
Dad had his office at home and after dinner at night, there was a steady procession of people needing basic legal advice or just wanting to sit at the feet of the master of dreams. People came and went, but if they didn't ask how much for a legal service---- they never got a bill.I watched as he built our home with his own two hands, because he couldn't find anyone who would rent to a family with five kids after WWII. He cut down trees and put through two roads nearby for a share in selling the property. Funny, that sounds amazingly like capitalism at it's best --- diametrically opposed to his share and share alike philosophy.When he died at seventy-eight, this little Ozark boy held a Degree in Education and a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. He was a wonderful and caring man, who built a great life and a terrific family. His name was Clyde and he was "A Boy in Trees".
posted by Kacey @ 4:54 PM 1 comments


Summer said...

that was on remarkable boy in trees..thanks for posting about your dad. you made me think, i should post something about my parents!! thanks for the idea..i will once i am over my cooking posts!

Big Dave T said...

Very nice. We're getting to the point where few people remember what it was like in the Depression. That's too bad, particularly for the younger generation, many of whom think the world owes them a living. The story of your father here should be taught as a history lesson in itself.

Lisa said...


Such a wonderful story about your dad. He seems like he lead quite a full life, and I'm sure you learned so much from him!

Teri said...

Dear Kacey...wonderful! I read this the other day, but blogger was acting up again and I couldn't leave a comment. You have a treasure trove of topics, and a voice that tells your "her-story" beautifully.

Ciao bella...

momofalltrades said...

What a neat post! Thanks for telling us about your dad!

Antique Mommy said...

What an wonderful tribute to your daddy!

* * *

Any chance you'd consider increasing your font size? I had a reeeeally hard time reading it.