The Greatest Generation & The ‘Privilege’ of having a father…
Since it was Father’s Day my mind got to thinking about my late father and those who never had the opportunity and privilege to have a father in their lives.
I was told a few years ago, that my father, Sam Sparks was ‘the meanest man in Smyrna’–seriously… That was said to me a local elected official who remember my father. That statement at first bothered me, but within a few seconds I thought, ‘well, he was pretty mean.’ I had the ‘opportunity’ of having not just one father, but a second father, Dr. William Chance. My step father was a strong Christian believer. He was a pharmacist and helped to start the very first Walgreens around 1955 in Greenhills.
Later in my stepfather’s career he became an investigator with the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy.
My real father wasn’t much involved in church. He probably believed in God, he just never talked about it.
He did go to church with us a very times when he became sick and he lived with is for a few months.
Looking back at least he encouraged us to go to church…. As a young boy I peed in my pants of several occasions when I would visit him…He could yell and ‘out-cuss’ any sailor and sometimes it was some impressive poetry of profanity. One time I picked up a few of those words and my mom heard me and cleaned my mouth out with soap (only once did that happen). My Dad never let go of the military. He served in WW11 and grew up during the Great Depression. He flew 24 bombing roads over Germany. I heard those stories of ‘Flak’ exploding near their Flying Fortress. He was shot down once and ironically he said, he ‘wet his britches’ jumping out of that aircraft. They crashed landed into the ocean off the coasts of Iceland or Greenland and once in a cornfield. I recall him telling me the farmer was mad as ‘h#!!’ because the plane went through his fence. He said they needed to pay him for it. Growing up he would often tell me, “son, if you ever get arrested–I won’t ever come after you.” Looking back–Having the ‘meanest man in Smyrna’ as a father was a real blessing.& a ‘privilege.’ He helped me get started with my first car a green 69 Camaro- which he bartered a motorcycle for…At 21 I approached him for a $10,000 loan to start my first business. I offered him 10% which he accepted–I had saved up $10,00 myself. I had the ‘privilege’ of having a father to help get me started.
One of my life’s ‘coolest days’ was when I saw this car with a cover over it. I could see a front license plate that read, ‘Speed ON Brother Hell Ain’t Half Full.’…I didn’t know what kind of car it was. After sitting in his living room fora short time he walked out and acted like he bought the car for himself….He grabbed that car cover and peeled it back, from the front driver’s side corner and it was a red 68 Camaro with black stripes–It was pure euphoria, just like meeting my wife…He said he would sell it to me and I paid him back the $2500 at $25 weekly. He kept a ledger book and if he bought you anything,even if it was .50 cents it went into that book (I think I have the book somewhere)… The ‘privilege’ of having a father is priceless…My hope is that the media and society will look at the cost to our community The correlation between of the fatherless and societal problems from mass incarceration, violent crime, drug abuse, alcoholism and more is astonishing…. Wow–What a BLESSING & a ‘PRIVILEGE’ it was to have a father–Even if he was the meanest man in Smyrna. Thank you to bith my dad and my stepdad–You’re both greatly missed.