Hook, Line and Sinker
By Tony Hooker
Throughout history, there have been some awesome dads and some really, really bad dads.
Charlemagne, King of the Franks and emperor of the Romans in the late eighth and early ninth centuries, had 20 children, some with wives and others with concubines. He insisted that they all receive a thorough education, including the girls, which was almost unheard of, back in the day. In fact, Charlemagne was so gracious to his children that he commuted the death sentence of one of his sons, Pepin the Hunchback, when his offspring was found guilty of conspiring to assassinate him.
On the opposite end of the good dad spectrum, Herod the Great, King of Judea from 37 to 4 B.C. ordered the executions of several members of his own family. These included his second wife, his mother-in-law, his brother-in-law and three of his sons. I’ll bet he didn’t get too many Father’s day coffee cups or ball caps. As a dad, I hope that my kids find me closer on the scale to ole’ Charlie than they do to Herod!
As for my dads, I was blessed to be raised by two great dads, though I didn’t always see it that way. My biological father was raised on farms in the Bement area before the family settled on what I always think of as Grandma and Grandpa’s place, just north and west of Pierson Station. From him I got my looks, my sense of humor, and my love of stick and ball sports, along with a good many of my other habits, some good and some, not so much. In fact, one time at a family gathering, my aunt Donna told me “You sound just like your dad,” after I had made one of my particularly witty (to me, anyway) comments. I thanked her and she added that it wasn’t meant to be a compliment! Back in the day, everyone knew “Hook,” and I aspired to be just like him. He was a walking encyclopedia of sports trivia and the best euchre player I ever met, and he was my best friend and I miss his company and his counsel, every day.
I am also blessed to have a great step-dad. Donnie B, the “mayor of Hugo” as he was named by his neighborhood cronies, is the toughest man I’ve ever known. The guy got buried alive, for heaven’s sakes, and was back working within a year. Even now, in his 80’s, he can still be found working on construction projects or his trucks or his mowers.
Growing up, he harbored no B.S. from his sons, though my view through the fog of time seems to be one of his daughters having him wrapped around their fingers. As a teen, I chafed at his rules, but looking back, I needed the discipline he provided until he and my mom separated. Truthfully, I could have used a bit more of it after their split as well. From him, I gained my obsession with hunting and fishing and the outdoors. To this day, he is my deer hunting buddy and my Saturday morning sunrise coffee buddy and I look forward to hanging out with him each week. I know that I write some iteration of this story every year, but I love being able to venerate my pa’s. I hope that you are spending quality time with your Dad, if you’re able, and remembering him fondly if you’re not.