Meet My Father
I told you about my mother a few days ago. Today, I'd like to tell you a little about my father. His name was Frank, and he was born June 1, 1906, in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. He was the second of four sons.
He was brought up in Gaston County, in Dallas and Stanley, specifically. College years were spent at Lenoir-Rhyne (a Lutheran school in Hickory) and at UNC-Chapel Hill. He went to law school at Wake Forest.
In telling you about my mother, I mentioned that they met when she was secretary for his uncle, and that they knew each other nineteen years before they were married.
His law practice was in Gastonia. It was mainly a general practice, but he didn't take on criminal defense work, in part because he served part-time as Solicitor (District Attorney) of Recorder's Court, a lower-court division of the court system that no longer exists as such in North Carolina.
The position of Solicitor meant that he was occasionally visited at our home in Dallas by sheriff's deputies dropping off paperwork. On one visit, the county sheriff himself showed up with the papers, at a time prior to my bedtime, so as a three-year-old I met the sheriff. And promptly ran to hide behind my mother. I had never seen a gun "in person" before, and the sheriff was in full uniform.
After supper and on Saturdays were my main times with my father. Sometimes in the evenings he would take me to walk, and sometimes we would go to ride---especially if he needed to drop off paperwork. I always loved it if we happened to go to Gastonia at a time when the evening trains were coming through---because I loved watching the trains go by. I don't know this for a fact, but I have a strong suspicion that my father timed our travel to coincide with the train schedule, just for me.
On Saturdays we often went over to his office. I would play on his typewriter while he read or did other work that didn't require the machine. It was with that typewriter (which I do still own) that I began my love of making words appear on a page. I knew how to spell my name by that point, and a few other words, so I loved seeing them appear, magically, just because I pressed down on the right keys.
Sundays were family time. After church, the three of us would have lunch, then frequently head out on an afternoon trip to visit relatives, or just go to ride.
My father was widely known in legal and church circles as a man of high ethics. One time my mother told someone, in front of me, that I was as ethical as my father. That was one of the highest compliments she could have paid me. And she often told me that he would have been proud of me. That always made me happier than she could know.
Unfortunately, my father died a week before my fourth birthday. It was a sudden, unexpected heart attack that took him, and I am grateful that he did not suffer long.
In the years after his death, many relatives and many more friends have told me anecdotes about my father. It is a tribute to him that he is remembered so many years after his death. Those kind souls have helped enrich the portrait of him for me, and in doing so have given a priceless gift to my daddy's little girl.