Who is Calvin?
- Calvin is my dad, born in the 1920s, before the Great Depression. He was a WWII Vet. He worked and fought at the borders of Northern Italy as a radio operator in the last tank battalion. Afterward, he reenlisted and continued to keep the borders secure, as the fighting carried on well after the war was over.
- I worked with him in our shop. We made patterns for women’s high fashion clothing. We’d work late into the night and Calvin would often get a hankering for a Tommy’s chili burger sometime around 2:00 A.M. We’d jump into his silver Honda and laugh at ourselves, driving across the Valley just to get them.
- Dad complained. A lot. About anything and everything. This is where I get it from. He was also a hypochondriac, specifically about dying early. Instead, he lived into his 80s.
- Calvin played the drums. He’d been playing since he’d reenlisted in the Army. He was the worst drummer I think I’ve ever heard.
- He was a great cook. He’d spend all day making a roast, a special hybrid matzo ball soup, or a meatloaf. If you were late to the table, his head would practically split open. (Don’t be late.)
- The older he got the more religious he became. He was a Christian. He went to church every Sunday. He never missed, but when he first married my mom, he considered converting to Judaism.
- I don’t know why, but he ate grits and put ketchup on them. Ew.
- He had no body piercings, and didn’t drink either.
- He never bought new pants in all the years I knew him. He kept mending the ones he had and they were too short. They came up high above his ankles.
- Not so much known to me, Calvin was married before he met my mom and had three children. I had half sisters that I never met.
- He loved his dog. He fed him cheese throughout the day and protected him on his walks by holstering a gun in his pants at all times.
- When my dad was happy, he’d sing his own made-up songs and play drums on the pots and pans in the kitchen.
- He secretly wanted to be a stand-up comedian, but he wasn’t funny.
- Calvin always had very few hairs on his head.
- He loved saltwater taffy.
- Cal wore trifocals. When I was a teenager, my dog ate them. I’d never seen my dad more upset than I saw him that night.
- At the end of his outgoing answering machine greeting, he’d end off by saying, “Shalom.”