This weekend is one full of memories. Not just of the American Soldiers, who died for our freedoms, but for traditions in families to celebrate the holiday. No, it has nothing to do with the grilling, the parades, the department store sales, but how families remember on this day.
I fondly remember visiting the cemetary with Grandma Bobell. They would leave flowers for Grandpa. Grandma would say, “Just add this year on my side of the headstone. I can’t believe I’ll live much longer.” Kind of a drama queen, but that’s what she did. Mom told me it was because of the guilt she felt for arguing with Grandpa before he died. He had a heart attack and died on Christmas Eve. It was awful.
We didn’t go visit anyone else’s grave. We would go home, and Dad would be in the basement, in his workshop, with the AM Radio tuned in. Back in those days, the Indy 500 was broadcast on radio. This was before the wonders of Closed Circut Television.
Dad hoovered near his radio all day, until the race was over. He enjoyed having his time alone, listening to racing. He and his friend, Tom Sloboth, had their own little racing team back in the 1940s. Maybe even into the 50s, I’m not sure. Dad was the mechanic and body man, his brother Bob helped out, and Tom was the driver. I would guess they had a heckuva time. In the 1960s, Dad built a go-kart and we’d take it out on on Sunday afternoon to large, deserted parking lots. We never got to drive it alone, but it was fun to watch. Mom usually seemed bored or mad we’d have to do that. With two younger kids (baby and toddler) it was hard to contain them. Sometime his friend Tom and family would come, too.
Once Closed Circut TV was created, tickets were sold to the Omaha Civic Auditorium, where you could watch the live race via CCTV. Dad and Tom were in heaven! It was a miracle! Finally, in 1965, ABC started a 52 year long tradition of televising the race on National TV. A race fan’s idea of heaven! We knew all the names from listening over the years. AJ Foyt reminded me of Dad’s friend Tom. He seems like a mountain of a man, deep voice, and I wouldn’t want AJ mad at me. Right?
Dad held extreme dislike for Jackie Stewart. I’m guessing it was his long hair and hat. Dad was pretty conservative as far as haircuts went. Long hair wasn’t acceptable. America was changing, and I don’t think Dad liked it. When Cable TV came along in the 1980s, Dad loved watching NASCAR races. He saw so many changes to something he loved during the last twenty years of his life. He’d be amazed at the Internet, the vast amount of information we can access, and the ease of doing it all. I think he would have enjoyed this part of life.
We never were a family to have picnics or go to any body of water. Since Memorial Day was assigned to the last Monday of May, it was his normal day off. We just stayed home. I missed hearing that radio from the basement once the 500 was available on television. Some of the tradition changed. It was cool Dad could sit in his recliner and watch something he loved. But not Jackie Stewart. Ever.
What are your traditions for this weekend? Do you still honor them? Would you want to? Leave some comments so we can see what the majority of folks do. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it. Be Kind. Be Polite, we’re not used to being in crowds anymore. We need to get used to each other again. Be Patient! I will see you tomorrow. It will be Memorial Day at the Post. Beautiful tradition for the Babe and me.