My father was a veteran of WWII, flying as a bombardier in the B-24 Liberator, having survived some 44 missions in the European theatre, including some 13 strikes on Ploesti, Belgium. I believe that's all they ran. If anyone can correct me on this, I will be glad to have the historical knowledge.
But, he didn't talk much about his war experience. I suppose he just didn't want to relive those days.
Now, my father had an unusual fear of snakes. In fact, he hated snakes. They creeped him out to the max. One day, my friend Rick and I found a bull snake lying in the alley directly across the street from my house. The snake’s head had been cut off, and was nowhere to be found. But, in all my wisdom as a lad, I decided that this would be a great practical joke on the old man. I took the snake, sans head, and positioned it gingerly under the rear wheel driver's side of my father's car. Ha! Wait until the old man comes out and sees this, right?
Well, we told him that he had a flat tire, and when my dad saw that snake, he got mad. Real mad. He saw the missing head, and he knew immediately that it was a setup. Yes, he looked directly at me. All of a sudden, things weren't so funny anymore.
I confessed to the scheme, and I can still feel the hot sting of his big hand across the back of my ass.
I could pull all kinds of practical jokes on my father, and usually he would laugh along with the rest of us. But when it came to snakes, uh, he didn't consider that to be a joke at all. I pulled several other practical jokes on the Major after that, but believe me, none of them involved snakes. I respected my father's viewpoint after that!
In addition to playing practical jokes on the old man, when I was a kid from the age of about 10 to the age of about 14, I had severe allergies. Allergies to everything, particularly grass and pollens, but also to dog and cat hair (especially cats, they just seemed to light me off!) The doc said it was something about the cat saliva. What did I know? Every Thursday at 2:00 PM, I was in the hospital at Dyess Air Force Base for my weekly allergy shot. We never had cats in our home, but we had a dog. A great dog, he was a Collie/German shepherd mix. He was with us for 17 wonderful years. Anyway, I digress...
On Thursdays, as I mentioned, I was at the Air Force Base for my allergy shot. Usually, a particular Sergeant B. was there to give me the shot. We alternated arms. One week, the shot would be to the back of my right arm, the next week to the back of my left arm, and so it went.
Now, one fine spring day, I can remember it still, I went for my allergy shot. Sergeant B. hit me in my left arm, but something didn't go right. He must have tapped a vein, because I began to bleed severely. My dad tried to stop the flow, and a nurse came by and brought some gauze, and we applied it and waited. But, the blood kept coming, and we couldn't stop it.
As luck would have it - not his luck anyway - Sgt. B. raced back around the corner, and my dad got up and stopped him. Now, Sgt. B. was about 5'10", and my dad was 6'4". My dad leaned down into the sergeant's face, and asked "what have you done to my boy?" I have never seen a medical officer go to work so quickly. He came out with new gauze, wrapped the bleeding hole and strapped it with adhesive tape so tightly it was like a tourniquet. Within 10 minutes, the entire ordeal was over, but Sergeant B. came back to check up on me repeatedly. Everything was fine.
It's just amazing to me how my dad threw the hammer down that day. He and Sergeant B. always got along well, and this sergeant was very good to me, and he and my dad always had a good relationship after that momentary crisis. It's just that Poppie didn't want to see lil' Mikie bleed! My dad was not cool with that.
This was my dad, a walking contradiction, and I miss him like hell, I miss him every day! I am just one of the fortunate sons who had a real dad who cared about him. I feel for the hordes of young men who don't even know their fathers.