March 13, 2014

My father was the youngest in his family and grew up with his five older sisters and his mother. His name was George, but everyone called him Juddy. He was known for teasing (all in good fun) and occasionally playing a practical joke. His sisters once felt the house tremble due to a small earthquake, but they cried out, “Mother, make Juddy stop shaking the house!”

Growing up in a house full of women provided my dad a thorough education in the ways of women. The ways they could be competitive, accomplished, envious, generous, sweet, determined, strong, and passionate. What happened when two sisters were interested in the same boy. It was not easy in the 1920s and 1930s to be a family without a father in the home, and his sisters were what we might now call “Power Women.”

Later in life, my father was again surrounded by women with a wife, a son who lived far away, and three daughters. Women seemed to always enjoy my father’s company and there was always much laughter when he was around. When I was young, we happened to have choir practice in our home every Wednesday night. My sister and I helped set up the chairs and provided babysitting for a few children who came along with their parents. My mother was the choir director, but it was my dad who seemed to really look forward to Wednesday nights.

This was primarily for two reasons: Virginia and Eddie. Virginia would come each week with a joke, riddle, or outrageous story for my dad. He would have a joke for her too. They tried to one-up each other with the hilarity, delivering punchlines with just the right inflection and timing. Some weeks he could hardly eat his dinner, he was so excited to tell Virginia his joke.

Eddie was a more serious woman. She was very fashionable and loved fancy shoes. Her grooming was impeccable. My father also knew that she liked neatness in others as well. Knowing this, he hatched a plan. One night he asked my sister to get a needle and thread. He asked her to run some stitches inside his suit jacket and leave the end of the thread hanging out of his breast pocket. The spool of thread was in the inside pocket of the jacket.

After choir, my dad engaged Eddie in conversation. People often stayed to visit long after choir was over. They were talking and soon Eddie noticed the thread. “Here, George, let me get that thread for you.” She started to pull the thread. Soon she had pulled a yard of thread or more. She kept pulling! My dad started to laugh–he knew his plan had worked. He laughed so hard every time he told the story of the time he “got” Eddie.

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