Rating: Superior

The Old Coot, aka Grandroobly, aka my dad, was in college during World War II. His dad, my granddaddy, was on the Chippewa County draft board. My Granddaddy was having a hard time sending other people’s boys off to war while his were home safe getting the higher educations that my grandfather could afford to pay for and so many other people couldn’t. He told his boys they had to enlist. My dad chose the Army Air Corps. Mouse once interviewed him by telephone for a high school history project and he said something like, “You had to enlist if you wanted to choose the job you wanted to do.” His chosen job was pilot and he went on to tell Mouse about “the B29, biggest bomber in the world.” He said that a couple of times, if I remember. He was a flight instructor in WWII and so spent the duration of the war in the American southwest. I think that he was trained as a B29 flight engineer but I’m not sure if he ever actually flew one of those himself. He was just about to get sent to fly missions in the south Pacific when the A-bomb was dropped.

He married the Commander during the war and, after the war, they lived for a short time in her parents’ house in the Daytwa area. The Commander worked at the downtown Hudsons department store and my dad did factory work. The plan was that the factory work would finance his college degree. Allergies or whatever intervened and he and the Commander moved north to Sault Ste. Siberia and (eventually) had me and The Engineer.

For a few years, he worked in a factory up there, the tannery, and apparently he had a great time working with his co-workers there. Eventually, he went to work for the First National Bank. His dad was the president of that bank and he made my dad climb up from the bottom rung of the ladder. He started as a teller, if I have it right. Eventually, long after my grandfather died, my dad became the president of that bank.

My dad died before the big bank meltdown of 2008. He was an old-school banker. Toward the end of his career in the early 1980s, he made a deal with a bank holding company to take over “his” bank. He got along very well with those folks when they came to town but they did tell him that it wasn’t “bankerly” to take a peanut butter sandwich lunch to work every day. I dunno. If the occasion called for it, my dad could do the legendary three martini lunch as well as anyone but it was not an every-day thing. Peanut butter? Yes.

The last couple years of dad’s life, he repeated a story. Sometimes the old folks repeat a story because they forget they have told it before. But I think my dad repeated this story as a kind of parable. When he was a young banker and his dad was the bank president, his dad dragged him off on a collection one day. They drove down to the Sugar Island ferry dock and parked. They walked onto the ferry and, when they got onto Sugar Island, they walked up the road for a mile or so. They collected a cow. They walked the cow down the road and took it onto the ferry and somebody with a truck was waiting for them on the other side. My dad always ended this story with, “When you are in the banking business, you can get into all kinds of shit.”

My dad could’ve been an airline pilot or a forester or an engineer [or a writer, even] or whatever he wanted to do. He was successful at what he did do, which was banker.

I think he knew that he didn’t exactly reach the potential that he could have. In his later years, when he was sitting in his cabin looking out at Lake Superior and asking for another eighth of a drink, he would sometimes say that he was a “successful failure”. I know exactly what he was saying but I don’t think he was a failure at all.

My dad was a pretty humble person for the most part. The Army Air Corps rated him as SUPERIOR! The Commander found this amongst his papers.

My dad died four years ago today. We are okay with this. He had a peaceful passing. I am just remembering him here.

9 Responses to “Rating: Superior”

  1. Paulette Says:

    I miss Jack. Thank you for sharing his life with us. He was a very humble soul, indeed. I remember that Ray had made a blueberry pie and offered it to Jack as he was returning to the beach from one of his daily walks. As they looked across the St. Mary’s into Canada, Jack laughed uproariously when Reg wanted to blow up the newly placed white tower over at the Soo airport. (What an eyesore!) I believe that Jack felt the same way. Jack and the Commander…what a fine couple.

  2. Marquis Says:

    The Boeing B-29 Super-Fortress was developed late in WW II. It was deployed in 1944. It was the successor to the Boeing B-17 Flying-Fortress that earned fame in the air war over Germany. The B-29 was used to bomb Japan. It dropped both of the atomic bombs. Interestingly, the development of the B-29 cost more than the entire Manhattan Project. Those Seattle engineers are even more expensive today.

  3. Tonya Says:

    What a beautiful tribute! He sounds like he was a terrific guy. (Your dad died less than two months before my mom died).

  4. Margaret Says:

    Your stories remind me of my the ones I can tell of my father; he has led such an interesting life–like your dad. I love listening to him talk about his time in the military, the forest service, etc… I went straight from college to teaching; I’m such a bore.

  5. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Thanks for the story! Your dad was surely a great man. I wish I had known him better. I only met him a few times when he was in town but he always had such a nice smile and kind words.

  6. Jan Miller Says:

    Thanks for a wonderful tribute to Jack. We miss his wonderful sense of humor and being able to sit and visit with him.
    Love, Jan and Pete

  7. Jay Says:

    I can really see Jim in Jack in that picture.

  8. Uncly Uncle Says:

    Just found a picture of him with Eliz on Sunday. I have it set aside for you.

  9. isa Says:

    Sure do miss my granddaddy. For that matter, I miss all the ones who are gone, and my live grandma to boot!