If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Papa Don, otherwise known as my Dad. Papa Don was a cool Dad to grow up with. He wasn’t always called Papa Don, he was just Dad, but my niece called him that as a youngin, so now we all do.
Papa Don was born cool. Just look at this baby picture. Does this kid have attitude, or what? He’s even motioning with his hand, like, “C’mon punk, you want some of this?”
In high school, Papa Don was apparently a bad-ass. I guess one time some punks were picking on my Uncle Bobby, his younger brother, when some kid ran up and said, “Hey man, don’t you know his brother is Don Coen??!!” They all beat it outa there.
Papa Don and Uncle Bobby have an Aunt Betty Lou that is very close to their age. Back then, Aunt Betty Lou was dating John, who later became Uncle John. Betty Lou and John used to like to park outside her house and neck, or whatever you called it in the ‘50s. But there was a bright street light that lit up their car, so my Dad and his friends would throw rocks to bust out that street light so Betty Lou and John could have their privacy. Then the city would come out and fix it, and then Dad and the gang would go and bust it out again.
When I was about eight, I sprained my arm by tripping over our cat, Midnight. I wasn’t the most graceful child. I don’t remember quite what happened, but the cat darted out in front of me while I was walking on the front lawn. I remember going straight down on my elbow, while my older sister, Tracy, and my best friend, Randy, also ended up on the ground, rolling with laughter. I was in agony and they were enjoying it. I had to go to the emergency room to get an x-ray and Dad was sitting there right next to me. I was babying my arm by bending it and holding my hand up near my shoulder cuz it hurt like crazy if I tried to straighten it out. The doctor came over and reached for my hand and said he was going to take the x-ray. Well, before I knew it he slammed my arm straight out on the table. I gasped and screamed and my Dad bolted straight up and went for the doctor. I think he was going to open a jar of whoop-ass right there in Kaiser Hospital. The doctor apologized over and over saying that the “surprise straightening” was the only way to get an x-ray cuz I wouldn’t like it if he had to slowly straighten out my arm. So my Dad calmed down a bit. Lucky for that doctor.
When my sisters and I were little, Dad would come home from his job at Mare Island and we would rush him, begging him to play “Monster” with us. He’d chase us around the house acting like a growling monster and we’d run and scream until the youngest, Melissa, would freak out and cry and beg him to stop. Then he’d settle down in his favorite chair while Mom made dinner and one of us girls would serve him a big icy glass and a bottle of RC Cola. We fought over serving him, cuz it meant we would get some of that delicious cola. Every once in a while he’d pour some for us in our color-coordinated plastic cups. We’d take a big drink and it was so strong it would make our eyes tear up.
There was a small section of the kitchen floor that would fill up with empty RC Cola bottles that Dad would let us recycle at the local liquor store. Yeah, back in the ‘70s the liquor stores had lots of candy, too, so they’d allow us in without an ID. We’d put all those RC Cola bottles in our little red wagon and venture out to the Wagon Wheel Liquor Store to cash them in. We usually had enough so we could each buy our favorite candy—mine was Skittles. I think my Skittles only cost about a dime then, so I guess that whole wagon-full of bottles added up to about 40 cents. Wow, that’s less than a stamp costs these days. Oh well, at least my Dad can still beat up your Dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Papa Don!!