Legend has it when we were kids, the McNess delivery man came in to find all six of us kids throwing fits. The friendly McNess man bent over and picked me up, making me scream even louder, which …
Legend has it when we were kids, the McNess delivery man came in to find all six of us kids throwing fits. The friendly McNess man bent over and picked me up, making me scream even louder, which caused him to observe, “I believe this one’s a little spoiled.” According do Dad, Mom answered, “No, they all smell that way.”
Did it really happen? Who knew and who cared; that’s what make Dad’s stories/jokes priceless. Mother’s Day’s over; Father’s Day’s cookin’, ol’ Dan Tucker, standin’ lookin’. But I kid. I published my ode to Mom a couple weeks ago and now I give my passed-but-never-past Dad, Alfred P Blough, his just due. It won’t be filled with accolades of pure heart and sacrificial love like Mom’s, but to Dad’s incomparable, often-unintentional humor — grossly underrated and never dirty jokes.
Like I said in my eulogy when he passed at 90, “We all know about Dad’s quirky, comical shortcomings, but he was a good and decent man.”
We still laughingly relive his hilarious utterings at family gatherings. In the midst of an amusing story, nephew Rusty might look over and say “Look at Doug over there grinning like a toad under a harrow.” That was Dad’s. During a heated debate, I might say to nephew Jay: “Keep it up; I’ll show you how the hog went through the cabbage.” That was Dad’s.
That first story about the McNess man was typical of the old character — they always sounded real because of his attention to detail. It’s like when he related a story about his old buddy Hiram Trexel, who was a speed demon in his old Model T Roadster. Dad said one day Hiram decided to “pass a fella on a blind curve,” which he failed to negotiate and rolled down a long, steep hill. He said the other fella pulled over and yelled down to Hiram, “Sir, are you OK?”
Supposedly ol’ Hiram crawled out of the wreckage and assured the man, “Don’t worry mister; the Lord is with me.”’ The guy yelled down, “Well, he better ride with someone else; you’re gonna get him killed.” Was it a true story? Well, he did name names.
He always had keen descriptions of my friends, and since I began sleeping till noon at a young age, Dad would say, “There was some big ol’ bohunk here to see you.” I’d know right away it was Tucker Dayoob, who already weighed 280 pounds in high school. If he said, “A little hayseed was here lookin’ for ya,” I knew it was Sammie Shields, who was about 5-foot-3-inches and 120 pounds. Dad once said Sam was so skinny, “If he fell into a bowl of noodles, they’d never find him.”
Sam found it hilarious and imitated Dad at school when asking Dad if I was up yet at 10 a.m., he snorted in disgust. “You kiddin’? He’s good till noon or 1 o’clock easy.”
But Dad’s old buddies were another story and each one had oddball names. The big bohund was Jumbo Lehman, Frankie Saylor and good ol’ Ted Besecker. If someone asked a female name just out of curiosity, Dad would say, “I believe her name is Fedelia.” The old comedian knew how to play off names.
But his descriptive expressions was his true art-form, even when not trying to be funny. Once when I was home visiting and helping him haul coal — his backup gig to the steel mills, he was complaining about my oldest sister Brenda’s husband when they’d visit from Florida. Dad didn’t like that Carroll dominated conversations and “tried to be too funny.” He hated how Carroll teased my little nephew Derrick for his own amusement, and his slight jealousy of his son-in-law came through when he added, “Oh, but Mom thinks he’s just the berries.”
“The berries.” So much more briefly descriptive than say, “the cat’s meow,” or “all that and a bag of chips.”
It was the mini strokes that accumulated and killed Alfred in his 90th year, and had he been able to speak at his own funeral, he’d have had everyone laughing while saying, “I feel like I’m ground down to about 7/8th.”