The Other I

August 15, 2017

My Dad

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 7:57 pm

Recently a friend said she would be interested in hearing more about my parents.  I realized she was right, and that I’d written a lot about my Family and Growing Up, but not very much about my parents’ own childhoods.  So I am writing a few posts now about them.

My Dad was a second generation immigrant from Bavaria, Germany on his father’s side.  In Bavaria, my grandfather had been chosen by his family to be a priest and sent to a seminary with all the constraints and opportunities that life offered.  My grandfather didn’t like the option and applied to study “as a seminarian” in the United States.  The seminary in Germany agreed and sent him for further study to America.  Upon reaching America, however, he went to a town in Wisconsin where many of his fellow-countrymen had already immigrated and were making a living either as farmers or as practicing lawyers.

He never began his studies as a seminarian.  He was a gifted musician and began to make a living playing the organ in churches, movies houses, and other recreational areas.  He met my grandmother and when they were married began a life that was frequently on the move, not infrequently flitting town at night leaving their debts behind.

My father was their oldest child, and he quickly developed a sense of responsibility for his parents and his younger brother and sister.  By the age of eleven, he was selling newspapers on the street to bring home enough money to feed the family that night.  He attended a Catholic high school where he developed a close friendship with the man who was later to become “Father Basil,” who visited our home and ate supper with us every Saturday for more than 20 years until my own mother’s death.

After high school my father attended John Carrol University, a Jesuit college in Ohio, and then earned a scholarship to study law at Harvard University.  He supplemented his scholarship by playing the guitar, which he later gave to me, and which I left behind when I left the convent at the age of 27.  He also finished Harvard’s 4-year degree in 3 years, graduating with honors.

Dad then returned to Akron, Ohio where his family was living and began his law practice in the 1930’s.  Despite the Great Depression, he somehow managed to pay to put his younger sister through college.  He married my mother in 1937, their first child was born in 1939, and I followed a year later.

In 1941, in the middle of World War II, my parents bought 70 acres of land from Ohio State.  It had never been owned by immigrants before, included a huge swamp, and not much else.  Inspired by Dorothy Day who was convinced that farm life was the most wholesome life style children could possible be given, my father and mother set up the home where I grew up.

More about our Dorothy Day farm in my next post.

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