Friday, June 17, 2011

The Entertainer

In honor of Father's Day, here's 
something I 
wrote about my dad.

September 2009
Recently I’ve been fortunate to travel in my Dad’s memories with he and Mom. The topic is usually the bus tours they used to take in the late 1970’s and 80’s. For his personal entertainment he became a showman. He had a small card board box he carried his magic tricks and joke books in, often prepping the night before in the motel room. When things got dull on the bus Dad would pull out his box of tricks, wander up and down the bus aisle performing. 
Guess he was so good there were inquiries in to how he did them. Not to be out done he would eventually tell...only for a price. 
The currency being candy. 
His favorites  were the chocolate turtles. 

My folks giggled recalling the basket full of candy he would end up with. Always the thinker..Pops decided to share his wealth with the others...and would announce ‘candy break.’ Sometimes he just gave it away...other times if he found a particularly sought after piece he would auction it off. “Who’ll give me 25 cents for this?”

Speaking of auctioning..sometimes the tour guide had small gift- wrapped boxes to auction . Here’s how the event usually unfolded. Dad would offer say…50 cents or so. Then Mom would up his bid by a quarter. Not to be outdone…Dad would offer an additional 50 cents shocking the whole bus. “you’re bidding against your wife??”  Imagine their amazement when he replied “I can’t let her win!!!” And my parents would get that bid up to 3 or 4 dollars with the occasional help of others. And for no other reason than entertainment.

Once Dad won the bid and after all the gifts were won,  he had another plan. Before he even opened his he would offer to trade it with anyone on the bus, sight unseen. Didn’t matter the size or such. Dad would always trade with whomever he could convince his box was the best!  He’d keep trading until everyone was happy. (He has done this at family Christmas's too when we play a silly game with unknown gifts.) However, one time a lady was miffed when she discovered she had traded away a lovely heart locket.     
Mom sometimes still wears this treasure. 

Dad didn’t limit his escapades to the actual bus ride. When they would stop for meals at a McDonalds  he would see how many people  he could get to go down the slipper slide or play in the ball pits with him. He would still go even if they didn’t. He had one timid lady convinced she would go down the slide  next time they stopped. Bless her heart. Her response was to hide from Pops the whole time in near fear and trembling until Mom assured her Dad was just teasing.
My folks are fun people. Mom even mentioned once she and Dolores went down a slide at a park…much to the delight of all the children. And then there is the time she fought the bull in Mexico. Did great until she forgot the bull was coming back..from behind!!   Guess her’s was saved when she threw the cape over the bull’s head and ran!! 

On one particular trip to Hawaii with good friends Dean and Dolores, they were all attending a luau. Seated at a large table with complete strangers, another couple asked to join them. Ever the gracious host Dad responded “ Certainly, we’re all family here. This is my wife Maureen, my brother Dean with his wife Dolores.” 
Then the fun really begins…Dad introduced the next man.. “and here’s our brother Harold. He’s never been married, and is usually quiet, but once you get to know him, he’s great!”  
 On and on he went around the complete table making up names and stories for each person!!!  No one ever questioned him. 

Needless to say, often people wanted to hang out with my folks since they were the fun couple. One time 2 single ladies trailed my folks and Dean and Dolores all around on that trip. Eventually the men informed these gals they would need to be thrown over the cliff..because they had to “sacrifice a virgin!”  This went on and on with much banter between them all, until the fateful cliff… and then one lady announced she didn’t qualify!
Oh Daddy just laughed and laughed when he told me this.
On one bus trip the tour guide informed everyone no longer could they call it a bus. The vehicle was now called a coach. Anyone who called it a bus must put a quarter in the can. Not to be outdone Dad does a bit of thinking one night in his motel room. He gets a  dollar bill, folds it in fourths with nice crisp sharp folds, then straightens it back out and returns it to his billfold. 
The next morning he hops on the bus, coach greeting them all “ Good morning! Glad to see everyone made it on the bus!” 
Of course they all teased him reminding him of the rule.
Dad replied. “oh man! Well…I don’t have any change.  (pause) Here’s what I’ll do..”  He pulls out his billfold, gets the dollar bill and proceeds to tear 1/4th off along the creases! 
Guess the whole bus is in an uproar! 
He chuckled remembering how the whole coach in one fell swoop sucked all the air out of the bus in exclamation. 
“You can’t do that!! It’s MONEY. You can’t tear MONEY!!” 

Eventually Dad got his quarter dollar back since it was useless to the tour guide. Not to Pops, he got out the tape and fixed it. And yes, he did use it.

Sometimes toward the end of the tour Dad would locate a flower shop, buying enough of one single long-stem flower for each lady on the bus. Mom was the trend setter when he gave her the broken stem one. Ever resourceful she tucks it behind her ear. Many ladies followed suit as the day went on. 
One time the florist had just gotten new product in and it wasn’t ready for the showroom floor. With no time to waste Dad quickly learned what needed to be done to the carnations and ‘fluffed’ them himself before giving them away.

Eventually the touring company asked my folks to lead a tour by themselves. Mom informed them no-can-do.   
She figured Dad would lose his patience by the second day and kick them all off the bus. 

Interestingly enough, many of the tourists did ask Dad if he was being compensated for his  “floor show”. 
Yup, you guessed it! His response was,
“Certainly..everything you do, I get to do for free. 
Everything down to my meals, room and such.” 
Actually, it's not true, at all. Dad just enjoyed making them wonder.
After a laugh with Pops, I looked him in the eye asking 
“ Don’t you ever feel bad for playing on people’s gullibility??” 

He thought a bit, and then clapped his knee in delight, grinning and giggling the whole time. 
I knew I had my answer. 


  1. Wow, your dad sounds like a real character. I'll bet you laughed a lot in your house. Thanks for this story. It is beautiful.

  2. Thanks for the smiles and the peek into such a precious man!

  3. Great, great story! Thanks for sharing! I kept thinking of Vail's granddad, Laverne Behnke (Gloria's step-father)...he was a tease deluxe. And he had a box of "tricks", too. We inherited had all kinds of things like fake vomit, a drinking glass full of holes (it looked like cut glass....guess it was "cut") so it dribbles when you drink, and other sorts of practical jokes. I wish I could hear these stories from your Dad. Do you have video of him telling the stories? People like him are so RARE! I love the story about him making up life funny! This post made my day!

  4. **sigh** i love these stories about grandpa. i also love that when you talk about him laughing...i can "hear" it!

  5. This was so fun to read! I love that you will forever remember these stories!