I can honestly say I never have met anyone who didn't like "Big Ray" The story's of this man and where he comes from are stuff legends are made of.
He was an all star Basketball player at Riverside Brookfield high school, That's where he met my Mom, over 65 years ago a stud. 6'3" tall, blue eyes, really a guy who's looks would make Paul Newman blush.
His story's of the things he did as a kid were fun and funny from greasing the tracks for the street cars (so they would get stuck) to sneaking into the zoo by swimming down the Salt creek (when it was clean enough for that) he would end up right near the lions den.
My favorite though is when he became a gang member with the "Berwyn Barron's" I guess the bad boys thought it would be cool to wear ball caps and go out and find trouble, dad was in the "gang" for a day when they ran into some kids from Cicero, Dad was the biggest so he took the first punch. I think that was the last time he was ever in a fight, He said he took off the hat (the symbol of these rough and tumble kids and ran home)
He is a decorated Korean vet and wears his 25th infantry hat with pride, He was a smart as could be, back in the day he could figure out any math problem in his head, To my sisters he is the smartest, loving example of a man there could ever be.
To me, He's the guy I would like to be, He is what the American dream is about a hard worker, a self made man, a guy who could take a 4x8 piece of sheet metal and make anything from the simplest fitting to the tank he once made for the neighbor kids.
He put up with me, a herculean task at best, I worked for him from the time I was in 3rd grade in his sheet metal shop, I did construction for him as I made it through college. I even went back for a stint when I was out of radio for a bit back in 2001, He never let me down. ever. We built houses, decks, garages, and we built the house he lives in now. We have caught millions of fish, (and counting) we have shot deer, drank beer (although he stopped drinking some time ago) we have done it all.
Fast forward to now, Dads memory is not what it used to be, So now its my turn to take care of him and Mom. I drive to see them most every other weekend when I can, some time every weekend. He waits for me to get there, We take walks we fish we sometimes still break out the tools and get stuff done.
This Weekend we will hang with my kids who adore this guy, Especially my oldest who never misses a chance to hug on him and tell him she loves him . That's them in the posted picture on the Oregon coast last year.
I hope your pops is still with you this dads day, if not I hope you can celebrate his memory, I will enjoy my kids as I always do. But I will also strive to be more like him so my kids can have these same memory's somewhere down the road.
Love you dad