The wisdom of my father

The time is somewhere around 1956, although the year doesn’t matter. 

Mother and Dad are in the front seat of our big, ol’ hunk of a Ford station wagon and I’m on the bench seat in the back.  Whether my older and younger sisters sit alongside me, I don’t recall.  Sisters aren’t important in a recollection if they don’t do something to move the plot forward or at least serve as props for the action.

The Ford hums along with Dad at the wheel.

The back seat squeaks.  Being a typical six-year-old, I bounce on the seat to make it squeak some more.  I discover the seat gives me a little push up into the air with each bounce.  Hmm . . .  If I make a bigger bounce I’ll have even more fun.   I bounce and bounce, my mouth probably open in an expression of glee. (Those were the days!  No seat belts to spoil a child’s fun.)

After several bounces, I give it all I’ve got.  Up I go and on the way down my chin slaps onto the back of the front seat.  I let out a howl that whips Mother’s head around at warp speed.

Blood spurts everywhere!

“Oh George!  She’s bit her tongue!”

The next part is a blank.  I suppose I’m rushed to emergency.  I don’t know if I got stitches.  I do remember it hurt really bad.

That night I can’t sleep.

My tongue feels like it’s bigger than I am and it’s throbbing.  I cry.  I cry louder.  Dad comes in to check on me, stopping at the foot of my bed.  I can’t see his face as the room is dark.  He’s backlit from the light in the living room, giving him the appearance of a huge, black, paper doll.

“Daddy, it hurts!  I can’t stand it!”

“Let me look at your feet,” he replies to my cries.  I’m confused.  What do my feet have to do with anything. It’s my mouth that hurts.  I pull the covers off.

Dad glances at my bare feet and exclaims, “No wonder you hurt so much!”

This shocks me out of crying and I’m all ears.

“You don’t have any socks on!”  What is he talking about?  Socks?

“Where are they?  You’re supposed to have socks on.  If you put socks on, you won’t hurt so much and you’ll fall asleep.”

I contemplate this logic as he fumbles around in my dresser drawer. Tenderly he slips the socks onto my feet.

“Good night, Susan.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

I don’t remember much after that. 

I float off to the dreamland of six-year-olds, secure in the knowledge that my father can fix anything, and is, without a doubt, the smartest man in the whole, wide world.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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77 Responses to The wisdom of my father

  1. mockturtle says:

    Sue, I love that! Socks! Who’da thunk? My mother always tucked us in with the same admonition, Goodnight, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite and I followed suit with my kids. Where it came from, I’ll never know.

  2. Dixie says:

    Ahhh, Those were the days!! Our parents were so wise and the world a much simpler,safer place! We’re retiring April 1st!! Coming Az. to check it out!! Hope we “bump” into you!! Dixie

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Dixie… I think it’s been a while since we’ve heard from you. Nice to see you here. The crew and I will probably be in central AZ come April Fool’s Day. Congratulations on your retirement… a great holiday to start a life of fun and foolishness!

  3. Sam & Donna says:

    Smart Father, I’m 65 years old and still wear socks all night, Keep your feet warm too.

  4. Dave says:

    What a nice story.

  5. Leander Linda says:

    Great story!

  6. Alice and Rudy Scheibelhofer, Chilliwack, BC Canada says:

    Always thought that was the wonderful thing about Dads. Both mine and my children’s always seemed to know the best thing to do.
    Our elder daughter sleeps “au naturel” but always wears socks – summer and winter. :o)

  7. Glenda Cornwill says:

    Such a sweet memory!

  8. Ron says:

    I love the story. Makes me think of a lot of good times. Both my folks are gone but I sure do miss them.
    On the asking questions ,sure we have the chance but at times we dont want to take away from the post or conversation thats going on so we dont ask.
    Maybe I am just weird lol

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ron… The discussions here are on a time warp. People comment with a question and go away, I answer ten hours later… It doesn’t matter when you ask a question.

  9. Janet says:

    Awesome story……smart dad you have. You gave me a time trip backwards to recall my own dad. Out riding old dirt fire roads up a mountain in So. Calif. On horseback, hot sun, and get stung by a bee. He carefully scoops a handful of the graded dirt on the side of road, mixes in just the right amount of spit and stirs up a beautiful elixir of healing. All the while telling me of this great “secret” Native American healing paste that their great warriors used in battle. I got so caught up in his story (or the sound of his voice) that I stopped crying and waited for him to cast my arm in magic mud……boy…….I miss him!!

  10. Colleen says:

    Thanks Sue, I really needed that today !!! My Mom and Dad was always doing something like that ,and I do it too. Just yesterday I caught my son doing something like it for my granddaughter. Got a good laugh at the momment. Brings back some great memories. Be happy and safe !!! Cuddle the crew tooo

  11. Oh, I remember that event!!!!!! No, you weren’t taken to the emergency room. Dad said, “They can’t put stitches in her tongue!” I think that is when I learned, according to Dad,…”Cuts in the mouth heal very fast with little care” I believe you put an ice cube in your mouth or something….LOL maybe it was a sock. Any way, it stopped bleeding. I remember his cure for the pain just a plainly as if it happened yesterday

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It’s so handy having an older sister to help with childhood memories. More wisdom from Dad… “Cuts in the mouth heal very fast with little care.” People didn’t run to the emergency room the way they do today. It was wait-and-see medical care. 🙂

      You made me laugh… I can imagine you thinking…”Oh, put a sock in it!” Haha!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I forgot to ask… Were you in the car when it happened?

      • In the backseat with you. Seems like we had gone to the drive in movies. No! I didn’t make you do it. LOL!!! I remembered it scared me a lot. I thought your tongue would fall off.
        Our Dad could fix anything with black electrical tape. Be thankful for the socks! 🙂 Dad was the most practical, common sensed man I have ever known. He would take sandpaper to my new dress shoes so I wouldn’t slip. I took my shoes to him even after I was married.

  12. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Was that an ole Country Squire station wagon with the woodlike panels? We had one with the seats that folded down in the back area.

    The wisdom of parents seem to stick with us all our lives. Hah! Thanks Pauline for adding to it.

    Is it to personal to ask if your folks are still around?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Both our parents died over twenty years ago. I can still hear my mother’s voice and see the blue of my father’s eyes.

      • cinandjules (NY) says:

        Sorry to hear that.

        This may sound weird to some…….but I truly think people who have passed….make suttle signs per se….(scent, thoughts, presence, dreams and such) to let you know…they are still “around” and perhaps watching over you.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Cindy and Jules… Someone commented a while back that a butterfly on the shoulder is a person saying I love you from heaven… or something like that.

        • Mike Davis says:

          My wife swears that her mom helps her find parking spaces close to the front. But I think she is just one of the chosen people. I always have to park in the back. LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t think we had the fake-wood panels. I think it was forest green and plain. The seats did fold down. That’s where my sisters and I would fall asleep at the drive-in.

  13. Krystina McMorrow says:

    What a wonderful story! Amazing how we remember times like that….so MANY years later 🙂 After reading this blog, it popped into my mind that my father used to sit on the side of my bed, put his finger on my forehead and recite “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very good indeed, but when she was bad she was horrid”. (Longfellow) WHAT???? Where does this stuff come from???? Back when I was young and he recited that to me at bedtime I never thought about the “horrid” part. ( Really…I wasn’t horrid.) I think it had more to do with the fact that he was sitting on my bed while I fell asleep. My Mom always said I was “Daddy’s Little Girl” and when I had a fall or a mishap I would let whatever it was bleed…sometimes for hours, and I wouldn’t let my Mom touch it. I would say to her “I will wait until my Daddy comes home and he will fix it.” Brings tears to my eyes. Both my parents are gone now. Thanks for the memories RVSue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Krystina. A very touching memory of your father.

    • Eileen P. says:

      I had curly hair, and my mother used to say that same rhyme…when she would say “horrid”, she would smile so nicely…I didn’t know till later that horrid wasn’t a synonym for adorable. LOL.
      Eileen in Phoenix

  14. patricia Leonhardt says:

    Sue, I loved your wisdom of my father. I am very close in age and I remember riding in cars with no seat belts. I had 4 brothers and sisters and 3 stepbrother and sisters on a trip to Yellowstone in about 1959. My dad had a station wagon and we were all lying all over in the back, no seats up. He got pulled over by the State troopers for going too fast. As the trooper walked up to my dad’s window, we all 9 sat up to see what was up. He exclaimed to my dad, “are all these yours”???? With my dad’s yes, he replied “I’m not giving you a ticket, you have enough trouble”!! I am in Aurora Colorado. Funny thing, I was born in a Plymouth on Route 66 in Missouri. My birth certificate says Automobile for place of birth. My dad was driving and he always said I was in too much of a hurry, so I beat him!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What a great story, Patricia! I never heard of anyone being born in Automobile! I bet you have lots of stories to tell with that large family.

  15. AZ Jim says:

    What a sweet memory Sue. I remember so many little things about my Dad too. I am 76 now and my Dad passed at 52 but Gawd the memories he left me with. I shall always cherish them. Thanks Sue for taking me back to my own childhood.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Jim. I don’t know if this is true with you . . . It seems like the little events and moments are the ones I remember the clearest.

      • AZ Jim says:

        My dad always sung when he drove. Usually old hymns. He used to wake us up every morning with “Ok guys, rise and shine” then he would make our breakfast and send us off to school. When I went into the service, my Dad took me to the station and we both had tears. Later when I was in recruit training, Dad sent simple little letters in his crappy handwriting with an ending “maybe you will need this” and a crisp $20 dollar bill enclosed. I remember so much of those times and yes, it’s always the little things.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    My family had a Dodge station wagon of some kind as I recall…it was most likely Dodge as my dad loved that company. I hated being stuffed in that thing with 3 brothers and sometimes grandparents too. Not hardly like the great ride one has in vans today. Hubby and I had a big ole Dodge van when our kids were growing up so we could really pack in quite a few, their friends and all, etc.
    My dad had a auto body shop, and often fixed vehicles in different ways, like our ole station wagon had a very souped up engine (hemi) and could go very fast. He loved to end up at a stop light, rev up the engine and then with this ole station wagon, ace out whoever wanted to race with him. Then laugh when they would be so shocked by being beat out by the ole station wagon. He also installed some kind of truck horn in it, so it could be used if need be, like it was some kind of semi truck. Saved us a few times having that horn. But today such things are illegal. Well, the way so many things are being made illegal, before we know it, breathing may be illegal!! HA!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You made me laugh with your details about your father and his souped-up station wagon. That’s the kind of thing my father used to do, too. Even in later years! He was in his fifties, stopped at a redlight. A “young punk” pulls up in the lane next to him. They give each other the eye. The light turns green and off they go! My Dad told that story several times about leaving the kid to smell his fumes.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Heehee…great fun it was to “smoke ’em”!! I agree!! When we were young marrieds, living in Hawaii decades ago, we had a 65 Barracuda with “4 on the floor”…it only had one problem…it burnt a bit of oil and when you put the petal to the metal, some smoke would come out…but it COULD scoot fast too. I was so glad to have that one time when hubby was away and I was alone and out aways from town, coming back from the base to where we lived. A car full of guys took out after me…heh, I could drive in those days and I “smoked em”! Literally in that car, as well as the speed. Headed for another small base for safety…told the guard coming in that they were chasing me…sigh of relief!! Safe!!

  17. Mark Watson (Denton,Tx) says:

    … chin slaps onto the back of the front seat…. now that’s funny. I can just picture you.
    In that same era, and I about the same age, I saw my older brother blow air into a paper sack, close up the open end of the bag, and pop the bag between both hands, making a really neat loud pop. What a great thing to do I thought.
    Always one to improve on things, even at that young of an age, (I believe I was born to be a scientist), I had the thought … why not continue to blow air into the bag, then bust it while keeping the bag pressurized? That should result in an even louder pop sound. So I tried that. With my left hand holding the highly pressurized bag to my mouth, and exhaling… and my right hand rapidily approaching my face, I anticipated the forthcoming loud explosion I was about to experience.
    I don’t remember the sound that was made at all, only the surprise and shock and pain I felt when I knocked one of my front teeth out. Shhsh… don’t tell anyone. Our secret OK?

  18. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Lets see in 1956 I think Jimmy Rodgers sang Honeycomb and the Everly Brothers sang Wake Up Little Susie. Mom had a nice 1953 blue Ford Victoria with a white top and Dad drove a Willys Jeep station wagon we called the Green Goose. Wish sometimes I could just go back in time and stay there. Those times were at the apex of our rise to perfection and the cut off date was 1963.

  19. katydid says:

    Ah…such sweet memories. I grew up in an old Victorian house and we had an antique rope bed. It was wider than a twin bed, but not as long. The mattress went directly on top of the ropes which passed directly through the wood side boards as well as the head and foot boards of the bed. The “sleep tight” or “bed key” was a tool to tighten the ropes. MY dad would help me use this tool to twist tight the sections of rope that looped through to the outside of the wood. It was a T shaped wooden tool with a forked bottom which you placed over the section of rope and twisted to get greater tension on the rope.

    If the sleep tight wouldn’t take up a lot of slack, my dad would shorten the rope and tie it closer. If we could only take up a little slack in the rope, he would show me how to use wooden shims to slide into the outer rope loops. This would temporarily provide extra tension. In that way I (or any else) could sleep tight on that beautiful old bed. I haven’t thought about my dad teaching me how to do that with me in such a long time. Thank you Sue for bringing back such great memories!

  20. Bruce and Sheila says:

    Sue, we did it! We left Wa. last Monday and are now in Lake Havasu! We love this side of Az..the mountains are absolutely gorgeous. It’s so nice being in this climate (85 today). I can say with some finality that we don’t much care for RV parks..too noisy. The hard-of-hearing gent in the site next to us is blasting out a tv show and I’m wondering if we’ll get much sleep tonight. We stayed in a BLM campsite in Rainbow Valley (near Barstow, Ca.) for two nights and fell in love with boondocking. We don’t ever want to go back to our homebase..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hooray for you! I’m so happy for you.

      I’ve never stayed in an RV park and I never want to. There are so many fantastic campgrounds! I think the BLM campground you mentioned is Owl Canyon perhaps? Next to Rainbow Basin?

  21. Hotel California says:

    It was a brand new 1957 Chevy station wagon for us. I remember the whole family going to the drive-in movies with snacks and blankets. What great memories. Lost Dad last year at 99, but Mom’s still going strong at 95. Thanks for the memories and the smiles!!! (Ooops, too many exclamation points.)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! You have good genes.

      Drive-in movies were great for families. Now people watch movies in different rooms, but we had the drive-in… a big event!,

      • Hotel California says:

        OK, I get the exclamation at the end, but the comma at the end is confusing me…

  22. Sunny says:

    Beautiful story, and yes, your father was very wise 🙂

  23. Wow! Not only is this a very touching reminiscence. In addition, your dad apparently had a lot of wisdom about the psyche. He seemed to know intuitively what all the latest research on pain is discovering – that the pain is not actually in the injured area but rather in your brain. There is a great book by a guy named Les Fehmi, Ph.D., called “Dissolving Pain”, in which he teaches how to focus in a more open, diffuse way so that both physical and emotional pain can diminish and even disappear. And, treatment for severe burn victims now often includes using virtual reality technology whereby the person views a video of an arctic scenario while their bandages are being changed which greatly diminishes their need to use high dosages of morphine. Thanks for sharing this. By the way – I love and look forward every day to your blog. I, like you, am a a dog lover and also a lover of the beauty of nature, especially Wyoming, where I have returned every summer over the last 24 years since I moved from Lander, WY, to Gresham, OR. I loved your pictures last summer of Brooks Lake. I never saw a grizzly bear when I was there. Your pictures made me rethink any future plans to hike there with my dogs off leash. Well, enough for now. Stay well and best regards.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Carol… 24 summers in Wyoming (sigh)… How wonderful for you.

      I’ll always regret not getting a photo of that big, blonde mama grizzly that walked in front of the PTV, followed by her two cubs. She looked me in the eye for one magical moment, turned, and continued across the road and up the embankment. What a memory! I agree, hiking in the area with loose dogs is not a good idea.

      Thanks for the interesting comment.

  24. EmilyO from KS says:

    Thank you Sue for generating so many wonderful memories from your readers. I have so much enjoyed reading everyones stories. I’ll add that my dad, in Calif, had an old Chevie carryall and he loved to tie engine parts to the bottom of the carryall and release them one by one, when we were in town (we lived in the country) and keep driving leaving people to wonder how that piece of junk was still running. He eventually had to quit as he was littering.

  25. dawnkinster says:

    Oh my. Getting a little teary over here in Michigan. My dad could fix anything too..but I LOVE your sock story. What a wonderful memory…other than the sore tongue of course.

  26. Candace says:

    Sue, you have magical way with words. If you EVER decide to publish an eBook, I will be your FIRST customer. I don’t even care what the subject matter is, because I KNOW it will be great! Have a wonder-filled week… and thanks for the “Dad can fix anything” story.

  27. Marcia GB says:

    What a wonderful childhood memory and your readers’ responses are very entertaining, too. Thai was time well spent and brought up a few memories of my own family.

  28. Lisa says:

    Wow, Sue, the memories you’ve envoked!! Someday, I’m sure we’ll meet, as I know you’ve met some of the Lazy Daze folks (Jim M, for one), so my turn will come. I loved my Dad to no end. Lost him three years ago next Sunday. He was a carpenter and “gear head” and would have loved all the stories noted here! On my LD, “Ghost Rider” (from the Sons of the Pioneers, that Dad loved), I have the plaque: “Made for the Memory of Daddy Don”, instead of the name tag. I’ll be #2 if you ever publish an e-book!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Sweet comment, Lisa. It’s hard to let go of a good dad.

      It was a good ten years before I felt like I was done grieving my father’s passing, and even now, over 20 years later, I still miss him.

      Our paths probably will cross some day!

      Thanks for the thumbs-up on publishing an e-book.

  29. Mirta in Staunton, VA says:

    Ok, so mine was a 1950s PINK AND WHITE used Buick with a pair of eyes painted on the side!! It must have been a teenager’s car in the ’50s and he must’ve been a very popular fellow! My father bought it used, it was his first car ever, and I thought it was the bees’ knees!! Talk about a gas guzzler, though! The EPA would not approve! 😉

  30. Dave says:

    Wow Sue, what a story…what a reaction it got from those of us who read it. I grew up in a family of four boys and a girl, and we traveled in our “wagon” as a family many times, and later in a VW Bus. It perhaps gave me the desire I have now to travel. So many memories of long drives, many throughout the night, looking out at the vast landscape. Camping trips to Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Mt. Lassen, Shasta and other places. Very fond memories, one of which includes me laying in the middle seat of the wagon on top of a huge metal ice chest with a blanket on top, watching the Jack Rabbits run across the road in the middle of the night as we drove through Nevada or Wyoming or wherever we happened to have been. Five kids, mom and dad and grandma….how did we ever do it? Over 2,000 miles on way! At least grandma was left with family in the mid-west so the trip back was a bit easier. I’m fortunate that both mom and dad are still alive, but in their 80’s and still as active as health has allowed them to be. Can’t imagine what it will be like when this nearly 60 year old doesn’t have mom and/or dad to call and talk to. Plan to spend many months on the west coast the next 18 months so that we will be closer to them and enjoy many more visits. –Dave

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Great comment Dave. You were very fortunate, as you know, to have a family that went on trips to wonderful places. And to have both parents while almost sixty is a blessing, too… parents you apparently love very much. What a good son you are to want to be near them in their latter years. I wish you all many more happy days together.

  31. Merle from (WA) says:

    Ah……memories of Dad all I have read in your blog are so precious. My memory that comes to mind is of Dad coming to pick up my sister and I. He was taking us to our Grams house to spend the weekend. I was about seven and my sister about ten at the time. He drove this huge banana boat which I believe was a 1940 something Buick. To this day I can remember him pulling the car over and placing me onto his lap and asking me to help drive. I was so excited that I could drive of course he actually was driving the car but I didn’t know. I’m pretty sure my sister and I were acting out in the front seat because we didn’t get along at that time in our life. Our Dad passed when he was only 49 and we miss him to this day. He was such a quiet peaceful man……

  32. Margaret Mims says:

    When I could not go to sleep my dad used to tell me to pretend I was a rope lying on the ground, just not tied to anything, no tension in it at all. I would then go to sleep. I could actually do that as a child, pretend I was a rope. I cannot do that now unfortunately.

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