June 20th we celebrate Father’s Day. A few years ago, I dedicated a May column to my Mother, and this year I decided to write one for my Dad. He passed away while I was still in college, but the lessons he imparted were of the caliber that last a lifetime. Partly due to the fact that the life he experienced prior to my arrival made him one of those guys. Tested by the Great Depression, World War 2, and the rise of America as a super power, there wasn’t too much he hadn’t seen and heard by the time I became sibling number six of seven offspring.
My Dad was definitely one of those guys. The type of guy who could meet any challenge life threw at him, which became the archetype for the Greatest Generation moniker. In the 1950s, he accepted a job with Dayton Power & Light, after turning down the opportunity to be the Sheriff of Shelby County. At that time Sidney, Ohio, was a Republican area and my Dad was known to be a staunch Democrat. In that era, skills mattered more than politics, and the Republican hierarchy was willing to clear a path for my Dad to administer law and order, because he was one of those guys.
Dad believed in the labor movement. He believed that unions were necessary to provide a counter-balance to the totalitarian tendency of some industrialists that used government and Wall Street Banks to alter the playing field of collective bargaining. Dad was active in the union that represented the electrical workers. Dad continued, unofficially, to represent “the guys” after he became management. Yet, when the union initiated a strike in 1971, he told them flat-out that it was a mistake. Not, because he was management, but rather he considered the issues as union posturing. His advice was ignored. Shortly after the strike began, it was discovered that the Strike Fund, which my Dad and a bunch of other guys paid dues to for decades, was depleted. Gee, how does that happen? Despite what union history claims, the strike cost the rank and file more than it did DP&L. The strike only lasted about a month before workers had to return to work due to the inability of the union to compensate the strikers for being on strike. The company cut a summer work program for employees who had children enrolled in college. The annual Christmas dinner and party that lavished gifts on employees children and bonus payments to employees while not canceled, were scaled down. The company asked for and received a rate increase from the Public Utilities Commission. To my knowledge, no union official ever faced consequences for the depleted strike fund. My father was one of those guys who called them as he saw them and he excelled at being able to distinguish truth from the optics of just about every situation. In a singular event in the early seventies, he advocated for the burying of the power lines where feasible, as a move that while initially expensive, would pay dividends in less maintenance costs in the future. Again, his advice was ignored. Mostly because my Dad didn’t have a college degree, and DP&L was hiring a bunch of upper managers with degrees that were fixated on mergers and acquisitions. Today Dayton Power and Light is no more. It was acquired by Applied Energy Service Corporation (AES) in 2011, after decades of poor decisions that resulted in a heavy debt load and other questionable management decisions. AES is a global energy consortium. Lessons learned.
I look around today, and I can spot guys like my Dad. Yep, they are still here, although its been a long road for many of them. They believe in America, they believe in their families, and they believe in securing their children and their children’s children, the same rights and opportunities they were given against some formidable challenges. Most of all, they believe that America is a beacon for freedom and justice for all.
I had the good fortune to have had long walks with my father before going off to college. That quality time spent with him, gave insight that allows me to think that if he were alive today, he would find kindred spirits with the Patriots of Montezuma County. Some are trying to frame the Patriots as bullies, harassing peaceful demonstrators. If my memory serves, it was the Black Lives Matter protesters who came down to Main Street after the Patriots began to use it for their demonstrations. Up to that point, the BLM folks were marching down Montezuma Avenue. It was a BLM sympathizer who attempted to knock Tiffany Ghere off the back of a motorcycle. Another sympathizer took a walking stick to Sherry Simmons’s truck at the dedication for Veteran’s Park. What about the videos of a man driving recklessly in and out of traffic? What about all the profanity being screamed at children riding with the Patriots? What about the plastic bottles being hurled as vehicles pass by the peace folks? The Cortez Rotary has decided against sponsoring the Rodeo parade! Oh well, never mind.
My Dad was a Master Sergeant in World War 2, which he almost never talked about, and never in any detailed manner. Conversations with him left clear impressions that he considered that war, like most wars, a situation that resulted in a failure of good character by far too many people. Dictators and con artists flourish by using money, psychology and propaganda to win over converts. Failure to stop evil is when good people, after the con becomes obvious, do nothing. He often said he had no respect for the French because they did nothing to defend their country. I have lost count of how many executive orders Team Biden has issued that are of questionable Constitutional validity. My Dad would have taken the time to talk to the Social Justice/ Black Lives Matter folks marching the streets of Cortez to ascertain how they arrived at some of their professed beliefs. Dad would kindly point out to them there is a right way to complain about things, and a wrong way. Aligning yourself with folks who destroyed major urban areas and demanding all kinds of financial reparations for possible wrongs of years gone by wouldn’t impress him. He probably would nod his head and say before walking off, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and you absolutely have a right to be wrong but you might want to take off those rose colored glasses and see the world the way it is, rather than what you believe it to be.
If my Dad were alive today he would be displeased by the current situation in America. My Dad was no fan of appeasement for the purpose of avoiding hard truths. He saw the rise of Hitler and Mussolini and the surrender of French leaders to the Germans as appeasement to avoid dealing with issues. Today’s situation in America is in many ways reminiscent of those days. He wouldn’t sit around and bitch about it though. He would start organizing. I can hear his baritone voice booming from the sidelines, ride Patriots ride, because he was one of those guys.
This Father’s Day, I am planning on a movie marathon. I am going to watch George C. Scott in Patton. Alec Guinness and William Holden in The Bridge On the River Kwai. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci in The Irishman. Because I am my father’s daughter and I too, can be one of those guys.
Valerie Maez writes from Lewis, Colo.