Dad as Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Duane Hiatt in Commentaries Add comments

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving the material to one day write it. I am in the midst of mine. These stories are hot off the keyboard. I hope they will give you ideas and inspiration for your own book. For previous stories, please go to duanehiatt.com

The book is titled Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Dad as Abraham Lincoln

Whatever dad’s stepmother Aunt Ethyl’s personality was then or now, it is probably significant that her stepsons  left home as soon as they got the chance. Delphin the oldest left first, the moment he felt he could provide for himself. Randall did the same. My father was about to, but then grandpa talked to him and said, “Bud, I really need your help. I know you would like to leave, but will you stay to help me?”

My father reluctantly agreed.

According to dad Grandpa sweetened the pot by saying, “If you stay I’ll give you a baby pig. You can raise it over the summer, sell it and buy yourself some good clothes to start school with.” Dad was about 16 at the time. My father reluctantly agreed, and he got his pig in the spring. He fattened it all summer then his father sold it. Grandpa took this money along with the cash from the crop he had raised that summer off to the bank. Apparently that’s where Grandpa’s income went first. I’m assuming this was to repay the debt he incurred when he lost his farm.

Grandpa returned and my dad met him at the door to get those dollars into his pocket. It never happened,

“Bud, when I got there I found out the payment was more than I had, so I had to use your money. But I’ll get it back to you.”

My dad looked down and saw his new fall outfit go into the bottomless pit of their debt. “I knew he’d never get it back to me. He did too.”

“But I did get you this outfit for school, this nice suit,” Grandpa said. “It’s made out of good strong material. It will last you a long time.” Grandpa unwrapped and rolled out the suit. He was right. It was good material. It was a fine looking suit if you happened to be starting school in the mid 1860′s. My father called it his “Abraham Lincoln suit.” It came even complete with button shoes. Some store keeper pegging grandpa for a sucker dragged it out of his back room and fobbed it off on him.

For whatever reason, dad put the suit on and went off to school. His worst fears were realized. He was a clown and a laughingstock among his peers. He particularly tried to hide the button shoes under his desk, but one of his hot shot classmates spotted them. He grabbed dad’s pant leg and pulled it up on to the desk saying “Look, he’s even got the button shoes to go with it.” Everybody laughed at “Ol Abe” born again in their classroom. Dad survived the day some way, went home, chucked the Abe Lincoln suit and never saw it or the pig money again.

My father wore glasses all his life. He said it was a result of his difficult birth where the doctor had to bring him out with forceps. These damaged his eyes. He loved to play sports, particularly baseball and softball. But his semi functional eyes never could get a fix on the fast pitch as a batter or a long fly or hot grounder as a fielder. So his sports career was as unsuccessful as his family life he said. With his athletic, social, and economic life such a struggle, fortunately my father could do one thing well. He could sing.

Ferron Hiatt could sing so well that sometimes he was featured at the Arrowhead indoor swimming pool and outside dance pavilion in the town of Benjamin three miles north of Payson. By comparison, Benjamin made Payson look like a metropolis, but on Saturday night it was one of the hot spots in the valley. Some nights, Ferron would approach the door with his date, and be ushered through without buying a ticket. He paid his admission by singing occasionally during the evening with the dance orchestra accompanying him. The free admission was a perk. He would have paid double the price to get in if he’d had the money just for the chance to stand on stage, and front the band of Ralph Migliaccio and his “Chicago Hotel Orchestra.” Actually Ralph came from Spanish Fork, a neighboring town up the road eight miles. But he had moved there from Chicago. I doubt the band came with him, and I’m not sure if he had ever really played the Chicago hotel of even if there was a Chicago Hotel. But in Utah Valley, at Arrowhead it was big time stuff.

For a kid who had so little going for him to step to the edge of the stage with a full moon shining down, Ralph Migliaccio on one side of the stage pointing his trombone to the sky, and Tommy Nelson on the other side doing the same with his trumpet, and Ferron Hiatt soloing the vocals, this life did not get any better than that.

One life changing night a young man had to leave early, so he asked Ferron if he would mind escorting the young man’s date home. Ferron agreed. Her name was Gladys Wride. Knowing my father, I would bet the farm that his first words to her were something such as, “This is quite an occasion. I’m going to give a Wride a ride. Pardon my stuttering.”

Knowing my mother, she smiled as though she hadn’t heard such lines for as long as she had been able to tell people her name.

Gladys lived in Benjamin which Ferron found inconveniently close because their ride together wasn’t long enough.

According to the old saying, many love songs, and a kazillion romance novels, true love never runs smooth however. The same dance music that brought them together threatened to pull them apart, at least that was Dad’s concern. Gladys cousin invited her to California and get employment in the upscale “city of roses”, Pasadena. The farm girl from the hamlet of Benjamin found herself as upstairs maid in a swanky home of a wealthy family. And if that wasn’t dazzling enough, instead of dancing on Saturday nights to Ralph Migliaccio’s band, she twirled the light fantastic to the biggest names of the big band era including Benny Goodman, The Dorsey Brothers, and Count Basie.

Ferron, like most young men of that day was about a dollar short of having seventy five cents, so, again typical of his time; he hopped a freight car, rode the rails, and hitched rides to get to Pasadena. He convinced a suspicious policeman that he was just an honest country boy pursuing his lost love, and no menace to the community. He charmed Gladys’ employer/landlady by sprucing up her yard for free. To Gladys he must have given one of the most heartfelt love songs he ever delivered; and it worked. He convinced her that he and Payson were a better life than Pasadena and the big bands.

As befitting their new status as seasoned travelers of some means, Ferron and Gladys did not hop freight cars home. They rode in the more luxurious accommodations of a Greyhound bus.

What do you think about this part of the book?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:

“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:

1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving the material to one day write it. I am in the midst of mine. These stories are hot off the keyboard. I hope they will give you ideas and inspiration for your own book. For previous stories, please go to duanehiatt.com

The book is titled Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Dad as Abraham Lincoln

Whatever dad’s stepmother Aunt Ethyl’s personality was then or now, it is probably significant that her stepsons  left home as soon as they got the chance. Delphin the oldest left first, the moment he felt he could provide for himself. Randall did the same. My father was about to, but then grandpa talked to him and said, “Bud, I really need your help. I know you would like to leave, but will you stay to help me?”

My father reluctantly agreed.

According to dad Grandpa sweetened the pot by saying, “If you stay I’ll give you a baby pig. You can raise it over the summer, sell it and buy yourself some good clothes to start school with.” Dad was about 16 at the time. My father reluctantly agreed, and he got his pig in the spring. He fattened it all summer then his father sold it. Grandpa took this money along with the cash from the crop he had raised that summer off to the bank. Apparently that’s where Grandpa’s income went first. I’m assuming this was to repay the debt he incurred when he lost his farm.

Grandpa returned and my dad met him at the door to get those dollars into his pocket. It never happened,

“Bud, when I got there I found out the payment was more than I had, so I had to use your money. But I’ll get it back to you.”

My dad looked down and saw his new fall outfit go into the bottomless pit of their debt. “I knew he’d never get it back to me. He did too.”

“But I did get you this outfit for school, this nice suit,” Grandpa said. “It’s made out of good strong material. It will last you a long time.” Grandpa unwrapped and rolled out the suit. He was right. It was good material. It was a fine looking suit if you happened to be starting school in the mid 1860′s. My father called it his “Abraham Lincoln suit.” It came even complete with button shoes. Some store keeper pegging grandpa for a sucker dragged it out of his back room and fobbed it off on him.

For whatever reason, dad put the suit on and went off to school. His worst fears were realized. He was a clown and a laughingstock among his peers. He particularly tried to hide the button shoes under his desk, but one of his hot shot classmates spotted them. He grabbed dad’s pant leg and pulled it up on to the desk saying “Look, he’s even got the button shoes to go with it.” Everybody laughed at “Ol Abe” born again in their classroom. Dad survived the day some way, went home, chucked the Abe Lincoln suit and never saw it or the pig money again.

My father wore glasses all his life. He said it was a result of his difficult birth where the doctor had to bring him out with forceps. These damaged his eyes. He loved to play sports, particularly baseball and softball. But his semi functional eyes never could get a fix on the fast pitch as a batter or a long fly or hot grounder as a fielder. So his sports career was as unsuccessful as his family life he said. With his athletic, social, and economic life such a struggle, fortunately my father could do one thing well. He could sing.

Ferron Hiatt could sing so well that sometimes he was featured at the Arrowhead indoor swimming pool and outside dance pavilion in the town of Benjamin three miles north of Payson. By comparison, Benjamin made Payson look like a metropolis, but on Saturday night it was one of the hot spots in the valley. Some nights, Ferron would approach the door with his date, and be ushered through without buying a ticket. He paid his admission by singing occasionally during the evening with the dance orchestra accompanying him. The free admission was a perk. He would have paid double the price to get in if he’d had the money just for the chance to stand on stage, and front the band of Ralph Migliaccio and his “Chicago Hotel Orchestra.” Actually Ralph came from Spanish Fork, a neighboring town up the road eight miles. But he had moved there from Chicago. I doubt the band came with him, and I’m not sure if he had ever really played the Chicago hotel of even if there was a Chicago Hotel. But in Utah Valley, at Arrowhead it was big time stuff.

For a kid who had so little going for him to step to the edge of the stage with a full moon shining down, Ralph Migliaccio on one side of the stage pointing his trombone to the sky, and Tommy Nelson on the other side doing the same with his trumpet, and Ferron Hiatt soloing the vocals, this life did not get any better than that.

One life changing night a young man had to leave early, so he asked Ferron if he would mind escorting the young man’s date home. Ferron agreed. Her name was Gladys Wride. Knowing my father, I would bet the farm that his first words to her were something such as, “This is quite an occasion. I’m going to give a Wride a ride. Pardon my stuttering.”

Knowing my mother, she smiled as though she hadn’t heard such lines for as long as she had been able to tell people her name.

Gladys lived in Benjamin which Ferron found inconveniently close because their ride together wasn’t long enough.

According to the old saying, many love songs, and a kazillion romance novels, true love never runs smooth however. The same dance music that brought them together threatened to pull them apart, at least that was Dad’s concern. Gladys cousin invited her to California and get employment in the upscale “city of roses”, Pasadena. The farm girl from the hamlet of Benjamin found herself as upstairs maid in a swanky home of a wealthy family. And if that wasn’t dazzling enough, instead of dancing on Saturday nights to Ralph Migliaccio’s band, she twirled the light fantastic to the biggest names of the big band era including Benny Goodman, The Dorsey Brothers, and Count Basie.

Ferron, like most young men of that day was about a dollar short of having seventy five cents, so, again typical of his time; he hopped a freight car, rode the rails, and hitched rides to get to Pasadena. He convinced a suspicious policeman that he was just an honest country boy pursuing his lost love, and no menace to the community. He charmed Gladys’ employer/landlady by sprucing up her yard for free. To Gladys he must have given one of the most heartfelt love songs he ever delivered; and it worked. He convinced her that he and Payson were a better life than Pasadena and the big bands.

As befitting their new status as seasoned travelers of some means, Ferron and Gladys did not hop freight cars home. They rode in the more luxurious accommodations of a Greyhound bus.

What do you think about this part of the book?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:

“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:

1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Comments are closed.