Francis Martin (no middle name) was born in 1927 just prior to the Great Depression in Chicago. One of his earliest memories was standing in breadlines with his mother to get food hand outs. He hated standing in line all his life. He was smart enough to make it to college where he told me he majored in Women.
He loved singing, the keyboards and was lead singer in a band called “Terry and the Pirates.” The name stuck with him and he was known thereafter as Terry Martin. He sang and played the piano all his life. One of the privileges of growing up in that home was hearing him sing and play. In his late 60’s he recorded a CD and distributed it to his friends and family. My heart rejoices when I get the courage to listen to it. It makes me cry when I hear his voice.
At the end of WWII he joined the Coast Guard and was stationed in San Francisco. Around the corner from the office building where he worked as a printer was a cafe. A beautiful young woman was working there, a temporary replacement, and dad hit on her and they dated. Mom says he couldn’t keep his hands off her. His college education was paying off and she didn’t seem to mind. Mom and dad where married not long after that. They returned to Chicago and dad continued his career as a printer. Soon my brother Danny was born.
A few cold winters before I was born (there are only two things wrong with Chicago; Summer and Winter) my mother’s dad died suddenly. As they waited on the tarmac to de-ice the plane on the flight to California for the funeral they talked about how awful the weather was. When they landed California it was 80 degrees. That was the moment they decided to move to California where I was born and few years later my brother Van came along.
Being a depression baby had a profound economic effect on his thinking. The most important thing in the world for a man to do was to get a job, whether you liked it or not, and stick with it until retirement. So dad worked for the AAA until he retired. He love the people but he was bored with the job most of the time. As his AAA career developed we were transferred a lot. I must have gone to half a dozen different grade schools and two different high schools. I have hometowns. It was a necessary evil. Most important were friends and family, food and fun. Mom and dad made and kept friends for life. Even though we moved often mom and dad kept in touch with their friends and they visited often.
There were some issues. I remember one time when mom screamed from her bedroom, “Terry STOP.” I ran and found him hitting her. I broke them up, she escaped outside and I ran like hell to my room and locked the door. He broke the door in and scared the hell out of me. I ran and joined mom outside on the driveway and waited until things cooled down. I was afraid of him most of my youth.
I wish I could chronicle more events here because my dad was bigger than life to me. Friends, laughter, music, drinking (lots of drinking) vacations, family, barbecued tri-tip, boiled hamburger (when mom was away), cars, boxing, and raking the leave off the roof. I was so disappoint when he died in 1999 of lung cancer. He was just over 70. I wanted to spend more time with him. He was smart, fun, loved my mom… to a fault (ask any family member about the crab legs story). He demanded that we revered her. I still miss him.
He use to visit me in my dreams, especially during a crisis. In one of those dreams he sat down with me in a restaurant and helped me. I still hear his voice, it is always a voice of approval. The truth is I see my dad through rose colored glasses and I know it. I can’t explain why. There are many dads who have done it better. But he was MY dad and I KNOW he loved me, he wanted the best for me and he is still with me.
He was and is the most important man in my life.