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Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

He went by Slim at Friends University. My guess is that his 6’4” frame weighed in at maybe 170 lbs, running around the track in school. Dad carried mail in the war, his service years took him through North Africa and Italy. I should have interviewed him in detail and journaled his war stories. He said he was one of the most liked person in his division, the 36th Army division out of Texas. Delivering mail from home to the soldiers was always a joy, and he loved delivering it. I’m guessing it was his infectious smile that the other soldiers loved seeing as well. He had that natural ability, wish I had it.

Unlike lots of families back in the 60’s that went camping, we didn’t. Dad mentioned spending 2 years sleeping in a pup tent in the service and it wasn’t his idea of a good time. We didn’t hunt or fish either. In the early 50’s, Dad quit carrying mail and went into business with his father, Orie at the garden center. He worked a lot as the store was open Monday – Saturday. We lived next door to the garden center growing up, and spent lots of time ‘working’ there. Brother Wes always seemed to like helping Grandpa in the greenhouse growing plants. Actually, it continues to be Wes’s life work today at Hesston Plant Co. He’s the best grower around. Linden and I worked in the store more. Linden to this day continues to beautify peoples landscapes at Johnson’s Legacy Landscapes here in Wichita. No, Dad didn’t take us hunting or fishing, but did he give us wings.

I remember a vacation to Green Mountain Falls Colorado, it must have been late 60’s. We had a great time fishing the stocked pond at the city lake, catching mountain trout. We toured the Pike’s Peak region and did all the things tourists do in Colorado. The arcade in Manitou Springs is a great memory from that trip. I remember going up to Cripple Creek, there wasn’t much there at the time. Vacation time always seemed to involve souvenir shopping. I never remember Dad ever buying much for himself either. I guess raising 5 kids took about all the garden center could support. On this trip, though, Dad did buy himself something – a pair of moccasins!

Over the years, many young people worked for Dad. To this day, people still tell me how great their work experience was at the garden center, and that he was like a father figure to them. He had the ability to make everyone feel like family, and taught us all a good work ethic.

Thanks Dad for being a great provider. Your caring unselfish nature to all those around you will be treasured for a lifetime. Happy Father’s Day, I Miss you.