This little story about my dad tells of an occurrence that happened fifty-plus years ago. To me it’s a precious memory. I posted it last year and want to post it again, slightly edited. “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy, in Heaven.”
|Though most of Daddy's barbering was done in his shop, he was known to cut hair in many places, from Mission Beach, CA to Athens, GA & Seymore Johnson Air Force Base, NC --- from 1 year old great grands to 100 year old Uncle Tom.|
I walked into the restaurant to pick up a breakfast order for a group I was meeting with when I spotted my father’s old friend, eating alone at a small table.
“Hi, Moose. Do you remember me?” I said, as I leaned in toward the small framed old man.
I do mean old man. Moose was ninety-seven years old at the time of this encounter. I had not seen him for a couple years and wasn’t sure how his memory was holding up.
“Of course, I know you, Connie. I’ll never forget the day you came in the barbershop and told your dad you were going to your horseback riding lesson.” Moose and I had had this very conversation many times before. He loved my father and apparently, he loved this occurrence from our distant past.
I couldn’t hold back the grin as Moose continued on, rehearsing the story with amazing accuracy for a man so advanced in years. I listened intently to this friend, customer, and VFW comrade of my father. Since he had died a year earlier, I felt warmly connected to Daddy while in Moose’s presence.
I left the restaurant with my mind full of memories of Daddy and friends like Moose and of going to VFW picnics and events at the old VFW hall. Mostly, I tried to recall, minute by minute, the incident at Daddy’s barbershop that day. I was always amazed it had left such a lasting impression on Moose.
The event at the barbershop occurred when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. On this particular day I had stopped by Daddy’s shop after school to report in and tell Daddy I was heading to my horseback riding lesson.
Daddy smiled and said, “Got your money?”
I nodded and he raised his clippers to wave me on.
As I turned to leave, a customer who was waiting his turn for a haircut, spoke up and haughtily said, “You don’t have to pay money to learn to ride a horse.”
Silence fell over Central Barber Shop.
Hands dropping to his sides, clinching comb and clippers, my father squared his shoulders, inhaled, looked the man in the eye, and with a slightly raised voice stated, “She earned that money herself and can spend it on anything she wants.”
That simple statement settled the matter. After about half a minute of dead silence, the buzz of the other barbers’ clippers and the low talking of male voices resumed.
Glancing at Daddy’s flushed face, I left and prayed he would not have a heart attack over the episode.
While driving to the horse farm, I couldn’t help but wonder why the man made the remark. For a moment it made me feel small.
But thanks to my father, that was a short moment. With no hesitation, Daddy stepped up and took up for me in the face of ridicule.
To people reading this, the whole incident may seem so small it’s hardly worth writing about. But to me, even fifty plus years later, I remember Daddy defending me that day. I left his shop holding my head high, knowing my honor had been upheld and that my father loved me enough to speak up even at the risk of losing a customer.
Daddy and me - I was about 19 years old here
Obviously, I’m not the only one the event left an impression on. Through the years, when Moose and my paths would cross, he almost always brought it up so we could share the memory together. The unspoken, yet most valuable component of our memory was the man—Rudy Edwards—his friend, my father.
Each time the barbershop incident arose, we were lifting up a man we both loved and admired. It’s amazing how such a brief moment in time can travel through decades and remain alive in the hearts of an old WWII vet and a now grandmother who was once the teen girl who never had to doubt her father’s love and loyalty.