Quote of the Month: "In our sleep, pain which
cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own
our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." (Aeschylus -
by Robert Kennedy when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, April
Next, a true short story about my dad that I
like to share with you. We grew up during, what people call now, the
times - but to us, they were the good times. It is a story of one man
life was woven together with countless others to form that upright,
noble fiber of our country.
His name was Pa
Raidy. He was a dairy farmer; born, raised and died in Wisconsin. His
lies on the shores of Lake Butte des Morts where he loved to fish. He
to school to the third grade and then worked on his parents' farm,
a blacksmith, married and then bought a farm of his own.
The farm was a small farm - eighty acres to be
- about fifty acres tillable; the rest woods, wild hazelnuts, wild
and roughage for the herd of cows which needed milking twice a day.
graced the fields in the fall of the year.
He was Pa because he was my pa. I write all of
as a prelude to what I really want to write.
My pa was part of the fiber that made America
great. It was not the Roosevelts, the Hoovers, the Rockefellers - the
and famous. It was the hard working farmers and factory workers, truck
who were the life blood flowing through the living entity called
Although he probably did not know or care who was
"father of our country", or about the Constitution - which, by the way
never done anyone one hill of beans anyway - he knew what was right and
was wrong. He knew what it was to save enough money to buy a farm, work
soil and raise a family of six on the money he got from selling milk
raising and preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter.
What he learned, the soil taught him. He was a
a veterinarian, a horticulturist, a weather forecaster, a carpenter. He
what all the schooling cannot teach one.
He had common sense, which all animals are born
man being the only animal who educates it away.
Pa had little money but generously gave what he
Money never seemed to be a problem with him. Nor was the lack of it.
day as I remember it I needed money for school. When I asked him, he
his big rough hand into his pocket and brought out all he had and said,
what you need."
My pa never had smooth hands or clean
fingernails. His hands were always rough, strong and tender.
Never once did he need to
use them to spank me for I had too much respect for him and he made so
laws there were none to break. It seemed love and caring for one
were enough to carry us from day to day through the storms of life.
When I was little I used to sit on Pa's foot as he
his knees and I would go pony riding. I sat on his lap until I got too
for him to hold me. I think I was his favorite but I guess my sisters
and brother thought the same. He cut our hair, soled our shoes. On cold
nights we six would gather around the table and play our favorite card
called "Smear". How proud he would be if we could outsmart him or play
the right card to win the game.
was respected in the community.
He served on the school board. He had a huge threshing machine which he
from farm to farm at harvest time and threshed the grain. He owned a
cattle truck which served the farming community. About once a month he
load the truck with cattle or pigs or sheep and take them to the
stock yards. Several times in my life I had the good fortune to go
with him. We would rumble along the highway the cows bellowing and the
bleating. The time flew. The 100 miles there did not seem far. About
mile from the yards the odor of cattle, blood and guts would hit the
and if your stomach was finicky you were in trouble. However, when my
would finish unloading we would go into the cafeteria and get the best
including blueberry pie and ice cream. By that time our smeller was
to the odor of the cattle and the beef sandwiches were just the best
After this wonderful excursion I would cuddle up next to him and sleep
the way home.Around Thanksgiving, with the first snowfall, Pa
his hunting buddies would head north to hunt deer. Whether he shot one
not matter. He loved to hunt - had a rifle and a double barreled shot
No gun control in those days.
The government in our small Wisconsin township was
a false, almost unknown entity. There was a big-shot sheriff who had a
government car and
everyone looked upon him with disdain as a lazy good-for-nothing
the last one we would think of calling if there were a problem to solve.
The Depression came and went and our life was no
different than it
was before the Depression as we lived in a depression. When the
government tried to bribe my pa into taking subsidies for not producing
milk, he just
dumped it, ashamed that we would even think of accepting welfare of any
and have someone else have to work to pay for our lack of wealth.
Sometimes I wonder what my pa would do if any
government inspector would have intruded on his farm as the government
inspectors so boldly walk
into our places of business today. I saw one time my gentle pa
a pitchfork after an intruder who misbehaved on his property. I
he would do the same today to any inspector if he were to intrude into
way of life and threaten his livelihood with codes, fees and excess
My pa, when he saw the corruption in the Catholic
church, he left it and never set foot in it again nor had any of his
family attend it. On his death bed I asked, "Pa, do you want to see a
priest?" He said, in his Irish, German accent, "Keep dem devils
with the black robes away from
me." He entrusted his soul to the One who used him to help forge the
called America. He died as righteous as he lived.
Rare today is the likes of him and I do miss this
great simple man
called "my pa".