Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Today is Kitty's father's birthday.  If my math is right he would have been 97 today.  He also would have been very pissed to know that he shared a birthday with Donald Trump -- Harold held no truck with bullies.

Harold was one of eight children.  His father came from County Cork and work in the New England shoe industry.  (Family legend has it that he turned down a chance to help found a new shoe business that went by the name of Thom McAn.  I'm glad he didn't because the whole family would have been rich, including Harold, and I might never have met Kitty and I would have spent my entire life drifting and aimless.)  In his youth Harold had red hair and was -- naturally -- called Red.  He could dance up a storm.

When World War II came along, Harold and his cousin Eddie joined the Navy.  During the physical, they swapped some papers so that each could pass.  Harold ended up in the Pacific aboard the destroyer Leutze.  Harold had many amusing stories about his experiences there.  He never ever told the non-amusing stories about the war, something that he had in common with many veterans.  The Leutze took part in five invasions and one major battle before being attacked by a kamikaze pilot.  The attack blew a large hole in the middle of the ship.  Harold was tasked with working below in chest-high water to get the ship's electrical systems working again.  His bravery in doing this earned him a Bronze Star.  Miraculously, the ship managed to limp back safely to port.

He had extracted a promise from his girlfriend that she would marry him after the war.  Little did she know that the war would end in a couple of weeks.  And so Kitty's parents were married.  Kitty's mother was raised by her uncle who at that time owned a used car lot.  The reception was at a restaurant next to the lot.  The few dark and grainy films taken showed more car lot than restaurant, so I also said they were married in a used car lot.  Kitty's mother did not appreciate that.

Harold and Eileen move to Georgia where Harold began attending Georgia Tech.  Soon Kitty's older brother Michael came along, the Kitty.  There were four people living in a tiny trailer.  Harold made extra money selling Sunday newspapers outside one of the area's largest Catholic churches.  He had a chance to make more money running moonshine, but Eileen wouldn't let him.  Shortly before graduation, he was called into the College offices and was told he was going to be expelled because (they said) he had lied on his application.  The college had found out that Harold had never finished high school.  Harold denied that he had lied and had them pull out his original application.  He pointed to the space that said High School Graduation and showed him that is was blank.  I never claimed to have finished high school he said, and you accepted me anyway.  Harold was allowed to graduate.

He had a long career as an engineer affiliated with the Air Force, NASA, and finally GE, usually working on projects that he was not allowed to talk about.

Her died when he was eighty of  pancreatic cancer, just week's before Christina's first child was born, which is a shame because he would have gotten such a kick out of Mark, not to mention Erin and Jack who came along later.

Harold was a good guy, with a great sense of humor.  He loved to putter around the house and never met a whiskey-soaked piece of bread pudding that he didn't like.

We miss him.

Tonight, we're all going out for ice cream as our evening meal because that was one of his favorite things.

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