by Faith Castillo
Stories live forever but only if you tell them……. This is a line from a movie I watched a few weeks ago and it really hit home with me and really made me cry, realizing I’ll never hear dad tell any more of his childhood stories. It was about a grandfather, a man who was in WWII, talking to his grandson, who was asking questions about the wooden chest he had found in the garage. The grandfather told the grandson, choose three things out of the chest and I’ll tell you the story behind it. He had kept the chest from that time, and so everything in it was very sentimental to him.
It was sometimes very emotional for the grandfather to remember that time period while telling the stories and it really made me think of dad, as he had such joy retelling ALL the Herbert sibling stories. When we used to sit around the table eating dinner, dad loved telling the story of how Aunt Pat made him eat some “mud pies” so that she wouldn’t “tell” on him (I think she caught him peeing). The one I loved the best was the one when I believe dad and either Uncle Hugh or Aunt Pat had a package of “Oreo Cookies” that they were waving at the other siblings to come and get. Only when the kids all came running over, dad Hugh and Pat hid the cookies behind or under a big rock! They repeated that quite a few times before the cookies were eaten.
Another story he liked to tell was the time he got a “pineapple haircut”. He was at the barber shop, I think he was about 12 or 13, and he saw the man before him getting a certain haircut. When dad sat in the chair the barber said “What’ll you have Paul?” I’ll have what he had, pointing to the previous customer. Before you knew it the barber took his razor and ZING, right down the center of dad’s head! Dad said, surprised, what are you doing? The barber said I’m giving you what you wanted. Well, dad went home and had to get a hat on his head to cover up his hair, and kept it on until it grew out!
What I got from all of dad’s stories was the love and closeness all his siblings had while growing up and it came through with every story he told. He always got such a good laugh while telling them, no matter how many times they were told.
I know I got my love of movies and reading from dad also. He used to go just about every Sunday night to the movies, most times by himself (he still went with mom at other times). He got his love of the movies from when he was growing up, going to see, I think Flash Gordon at the double feature. I remember when we were kids how much he took us to the movies and how enjoyable it was. I think watching him get so much enjoyment out of the movies really had an impact on me and it’s why I enjoy it so much. Oh, and when mom, dad and I would go, he had to have that bag of popcorn! Of course, with mom’s super sensitive hearing she didn’t care for the “scrunch, scrunch” noise he would make.
I really like to read and I was a good speller in elementary school and I remember in third grade dad telling me write this word at the bottom of your next spelling test “antidisestablishmentarianism” (after he showed it to me to see if I could spell it). I can’t remember my dad with out thinking of him with either, a newspaper, magazine or book in his hands. I’m glad I was able to give him books as gifts, which I relished, because I knew I was giving him a gift he would really appreciate. One story I can still remember reading in the newspaper at age 12 (1969) was the Manson murder’s, to me it was so interesting. We got two newspapers, back then, mind you, plus Life Magazine, it was a race to see who would get to read it first.
When I think back about dad, I see now how he related to stories either about his family life growing up or from when he went to the movies at an early age. I think it brought him a lot of enjoyment, being able to retell his stories, and being able to enjoy others stories as well, be it a movie or a good book.
So that’s how I remember dad and I do miss the “scrunch, scrunch” at the movies!