My dad and my uncle owned a tank and pump business together. It went out of business in the mid-eighties. Along with the tank and pump business, they owned a carwash. Both businesses were on the West Side of Buffalo. My father was at the tank and pump shop one day when his employee at the car wash called him. Apparently a disgruntled customer was claiming the car was somehow at fault for getting water in his gas tank. The angry customer was threatening to take the entire cash register drawer.
Dad said he would be right over. He owned a .38 revolver. Their business was in a rough part of town. One time someone actually broke into their shop and poisoned their guard dogs, two ill-tempered German Shepherds named Boots and Heidi. That’s another story for another time.
Dad went over to the carwash and walked in. As he told it, he flashed the .38 to the angry guy and said, “You still want to take the cash register drawer?”
The guy beat it out of there pretty fast.
Another time my parents were picking up our dog from the groomer on West Utica Street. As they were getting into the car, a guy walking down the street started harassing my mother for money. Dad said, “You can walk away, or I can put a bullet in your ass.”
When I was around twelve-years-old, a neighbor refused to give back my basketball that had bounced into his yard, Dad took me to his house. It only took a scowl and a few words from my father to get the ball back.
Dad took zero shit off of anyone. He was an old school tough guy. The tough guy was also the guy that spent every Christmas staying up all night to assemble my toys. The same guy that got teary-eyed the first time he saw his newborn grandson. The same guy that I spent countless Sundays with watching and talking football. The guy that had a soft heart but would go full Grizzly Bear if his family was threatened.
He liked to have fun with store clerks. I remember him setting down a quart of motor oil on the counter at Wilson Farms and saying: “My wife wants oil for a salad, is this the right kind?” He said it with such a straight face that the clerk was left dumbfounded. He chuckled a moment later and let the clerk off the hook.
That was Dad: tough guy, family man, prankster.
He’s been gone ten years. Thinking about him on Father’s Day.