My dad was a fun guy when we were growing up. There was nothing he would not try at least once and he never met anyone that he did not like and everyone liked him. He was a positive guy with a positive attitude. He is still fun and still positive, even though he is in his Eighties.
He grew up in Montana originally, and then his family moved to Buckman, Minnesota. Dad was very talented musically. He could play guitar and when he sang he sounded like Johnny Cash. He actually played in a local band with a woman who played accordion and concertina and sang and they had a drummer. He quit the band when we were young and I think the staying up late on weekends in the local bars playing music became a problem for a guy taking care of a young family. However music was always part of our family activities. We even had guitars along when we were camping. Yes, we actually did sing Kumbaya around the campfire with our cousins. Everybody had a lot of kids, so camping was a few adults and then a boat load of kids that were all different ages. Everybody got included in everything no matter what age. Those were fun times!
He and Mom raised us on a beef cattle farm by Pierz, Minnesota, in which they took great pride. My dad’s main job was driving truck for a road construction company and he drove everything from the large belly dump trucks to hauling heavy equipment. Many times he had to be gone during the week, living in our Winnebago travel trailer and coming home on weekends. So my Mom, a strong woman of German heritage, and we kids took care of the farm and cattle during the week. Beef cattle were fairly self sufficient in the summer. Towards the end of the week we would have made plans for our family adventures. We went camping, swimming and boating. Dad got a large truck tire inner tube at one point and blew it up and we took turns trying to stand on it while swimming in the local lakes. He was with us the whole time trying to stand on it too. We all took a lot of dunks in the lake before we mastered that.
When we were teens, my Dad bought a boat and a pair of water skis and we all learned it. Dad was first to try since it was his idea. He mastered it in no time and was skiing on one ski. We had a lot of fun with that boat in the 1970’s. He was always encouraging us to try new things and he always exuded complete confidence in our abilities. My mom was the same way and taught us to drive tractors and ride horses. She went along with all of our shenanigans.
We were the first in the neighborhood to buy snowmobiles, also in the 1970’s, and we used an old cover of a washer to pull behind the snowmobiles with a long rope like a snow saucer. I am surprised we survived that swinging around in crazy fashion through our snow covered farm fields. When our neighbors and cousins got snowmobiles we would have large get togethers in the woods and start a campfire, roast hot dogs and drive snowmobiles at night.
For big family adventures we planned vacations around farm work and Dad’s road work. I remember we went to Colorado in a long weekend by driving all night long. When we reached Greely, Colorado, there were lots of young people driving and walking along the roads for a concert in town. We experienced the beauty of Colorado and had great family time together.
There were very few things that my dad did not try and very few that he did not master. He and Mom were excellent dancers, and he taught me to polka with him too. My grandpa, his dad, spent a lot of time at our farm too. Grandpa and Dad built us a teeter-totter that not only went up and down, but also around. It was dangerous looking back at it, but it was really fun and no one got seriously hurt. They also built us a harness for our German Shepard dog. We hooked him up to the red wagon, with one of us sitting in the wagon and the others driving bikes in front of the wagon, and that dog would run like his tail was on fire down our long driveway giving the kid in the wagon the ride of their life. The dog loved it. When we brought out the harness he got all excited.
My dad is still an adventurous guy. Even though he is in his eighties, he likes to travel with their RV and go fishing and camping. He and Mom still attend fun community and church activities, go out to dinner, and play cards with friends. He is still as fun as ever and still finds friends no matter where he goes. He has taught us to be accepting of everyone, to explore the world, show kindness, be adventurous and not be fearful to try new things. Life is a gift.