An Interesting Life

Today would have been my father’s 104th birthday. He was an interesting fellow, and years ago (he lived to be 89) I assembled the voice-recorded stories of his life. It occurs to me to list the various kinds of work he’d done, as it’s a moderately intriguing list. He was not well educated in a traditional sense, but managed to do reasonably well anyway. I hope that the same could be said of me. Here’s the list, off the top of my head:

  • Army recruit (one day)
  • Barrel maker
  • Beer salesman
  • Blimp crew
  • Blimp pilot
  • Boatbuilder
  • Carpenter
  • Coal miner
  • Farm worker
  • Freighter ship crew
  • Freighter ship pilot
  • Hobo
  • Homebuilder
  • Insurance agent
  • Insurance district manager
  • Logger
  • Precision machinist
  • President of a social/dance club
  • Record-holding fisherman
  • Singer/guitar player
  • Target of Kamikaze bombers
  • Tool and die maker


The image above (Pappy was about 85 here) shows scars on his left upper thigh, where his leg was nearly severed by a coal car when he was about 12. He had learned to walk again, and joined the Army — but they looked at his leg during the first assembly, and threw him out. Hence the “one day” note.

There was a famous case of a group of blacks charged with rape, arguably unjustly. The 1931 incident and its aftermath, now celebrated in a musical called “The Scottsboro Boys,” has a connection here. Pappy likely shared train-cars with them; the timing and circumstances match up well.

Pappy’s hobo stories are featured (with those of many others) in a book called Riding the Rails.

==============/ Keith DeHavelle