Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life with Father: Ship Shaped

Dad and his girls, circa 1974. 
My childhood was influenced in part by my father's service in the U.S. Navy.  I was born state side while my dad was serving active duty in Japan. I have a telegram in my baby book that was sent to him, announcing my birth.

A short time after his return, I spent a year as an infant living in housing with my parents on base in Pearl Harbor. We then lived off base in the Bay Area of Northern California. We lived for a time in Monterrey and then Pacifica, cities close to the navy base.

During the middle of my kindergarten year, our family moved to Cypress, California. My dad had recently started working full time as a civilian in the oil industry, but he was still in the navy reserve.  He served through the base in Long Beach--one weekend per month and two weeks per year.
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This is part of a Generation Fabulous blog hop.
The thumbnails below will expire after a couple of weeks,
so here are a few of my favorites from this set:

Grown and Flown shares Dad's Sayings
A Faded Ginger realizes Now I Get It
Fur Files' dad is a Special Kind of Crazy

HuffPost50 selected 19 photos from the blog hop for a slideshow.
(I'm slide #13.)
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Military culture for Dad didn't stay sequestered to his ship. We felt a little influence at home.  He taught us how to make our beds using military standards.  We learned to iron clothing so they looked as crisp as his uniforms. He had a nautical barometer and matching nautical in the house. The latter rang out time marking  military shifts. "Six bells, and all's well!"


Photo by Mr. Tea
He also encouraged us to save water by taking military showers: "Turn on the water to get wet. Turn it off while you soap up.  Turn it on again to rinse off."  We weren't very good about following that particular advice.

"See the world!" as the military recruiters promise. We benefited from my dad's travels when he brought Japanese cuisine to our home. He learned how to make tempura fried shrimp and vegetables. He taught us how to use chopsticks. He also took us out to eat sushi in the early 1970s, long before it became vogue.

As an adult, I began to appreciate more the draw of his military experience and its benefits. When my dad was just twelve, his father died unexpectedly from complications during gall bladder surgery. My dad was about the same age I was in the photo above; I am the oldest girl, the tallest in this photo. He was the oldest of three boys. This left my dad as the man of the house.

After school, he helped his mother run their jewelry store in Rexburg, Idaho. Then dad rode his bike home and made dinner for his two younger brothers.  Joining the navy as a young adult was a way for him to afford a college education and a way to have older men mentor him. It gave him skills, a brotherhood, structure and a chance to travel.

So each time I fold a top sheet into a military corner, I think of my dad and the many military-inspired life lessons he's taught me.

Happy Father's Day, Lieutenant Commander!

Related:

I Met a 90 yo WW II Vet on Memorial Day 2014


24 comments:

  1. Karen, our dad was a sea captain too--in the Canadian Naval Auxiliary, as well as the Coast Guard, and ultimately superintendent of marine pilotage. We had many of the same rules and regs, and I was a mean shoe polisher when I was a kid. :)

    Sounds like your dad was a great influence on you!

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    1. Ah, I remember polishing a few shoes in my day. Yes, it sounds like we had some of the same experiences. I can't count myself a vet, but I feel like I've done some time at boot camp with a drill sergeant.

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  2. Karen, my dad was in the US Navy too - so I had to smile at your remembrance of him every time you made a military corner when making a bed . I know those! And now that I have a son in the US Air Force, I appreciate again all that the military offers our young men. I think it will make him a better father one day too!

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    1. Military corners! It's great that you have a son in the military. It has some real benefits...and I don't just mean shopping privileges at the commissary.

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  3. Don't tell your dad, but I don't even tuck the top sheet in. ;) It drove my husband crazy when we first married, but he's learned to accept it.

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  4. Oh, my husband wrestles with the top sheet and kicks it to the floor. After about three years of marriage, I gave up on them entirely. If I'm a widow in my older years, I'll get the top sheets out of storage. I'm amazed the your top sheet stays in place. Linen levitation. Go, you!

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  5. I loved this post, Karen, because it was so different from my own childhood, and I loved learning what it was like to grow up with a dad who was in the Navy. He sounds like a wonderful man who gave you many skills, along with a lot of love. But, like fadedginger, I don't tuck my corners in shipshape!!

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    1. I am mystified as to how your top sheet stays put! Even with the corners tucked in military style, my husband would roll over and yank them off completely and then twist and squirm until they ended up bunched at the bottom of the bed or out on the floor. Magic! Or you have peaceful sleepers in your house.

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  6. I love the specifics of how your father's Navy years influenced your family's home - the beds, the ironing, the clock, Japanese cuisine. The photo of him with you and your sisters is the perfect illustration. Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. I have few pictures of me with my dad during any decade of my life, so I have to admit that the picture came first and the story second. But his military life really did set the tone for life in our house, so I didn't have to reach too far for stories to match.

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  7. A few military dads I've read about now. Sounds like a very worldly life - different places, people, and things you've seen because of it. Sounds amazing.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading. Happy Father's Day to the dads in your world.

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  8. Love these memories, Karen. You clearly learned a lot and had many interesting experiences due to your dad's career. I'm another one who could never master the military hospital corner, and the thought of a military shower makes me shiver. Sometimes I think I would have benefited from boot camp!

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    1. Yeah, those military showers were horrible. I only did them to standards a few times. I agree with them only in principle. Thanks for stopping by the blog. Hugs to all the dads in your life.

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  9. Oh I have never thought of a military shower. I love your father's advice about seeing the world. It is too bad that he had to grow up so quickly. Lovely post!

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    1. The navy ships had to conserve water; hence the sparse method. My dad was trying to lower the water bill.We three girls showered daily and used the blow dryer a lot, too. And washed a lot of clothes. We probably racked up pretty good utility bills.

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  10. We have similar family configurations. I, too, am the oldest of 3 daughters, and my dad's father died when my dad was 8 of a burst appendix.

    And still our dads figured out how to be great dads :-)

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    1. Lori: Wow, those are freaky similarities. Happy Father's Day to all.

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  11. I don't imagine I'd have been good at military showers. Thank goodness my dad never tried that...he imposed enough money/energy saving rules as it was. Thanks for sharing your memories, it sounds like your childhood was "ship-shape."

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    1. Yes, my dad was all about order! My house isn't nearly as organized. There were some real pros to having a well-run house. At 75, he is still very tidy and routinized.

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  12. My dad too was in the Navy (only two years) and was in the oil business in the 80's when it was booming. So glad you had a great life with your dad!

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  13. Wow. Navy life and the oil business. I grew up in Orange County, CA. Happy Father's day to your navy/oil biz dad.

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  14. I always wondered what is was like have a military man for a dad. You described it perfectly. What a special dad!!!

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  15. Thanks to your dad for his many years of service for this country.

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