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  • Kate Barker

Happy Father’s Day , Daddy

Choosing qualities and stories that successfully describe my Dad is next to impossible. (I was overwhelmed with this same sense of inadequacy when I wrote about my mother on Mother’s Day). His more than 80 years of living history requires a book. Since I haven’t started a book yet, I’m only mentioning a few fun facts about my Dad in this blog.

Enterprising, adventurous, self confident, and courageous characterize my Dad’s life. He grew up on a farm in the wild, windy panhandle of Texas. At two years old, my Grandmother told us, he climbed to the top of a 40 foot windmill to get a better view of the water below. As Grandma moved up the skinny little ladder to “fetch” him, she continued to calmly discuss the “pretty water”, telling him she was coming up to see it too. I am amazed that she didn’t freeze, or scream or wet her pants. She told me, all she could think about was getting him safely down. She didn’t want him to be frightened and start moving around on that platform in the sky ! There was no one to help her. My Grandpa and the farm hands were several miles away, plowing fields. I’m sure she was praying the whole time she was climbing ! Once she retrieved my father, she went inside, locked all the doors and laid down to recuperate from her distressing ordeal . My Dad didn’t even take a nap that day.

At nine years old, he was driving a tractor and plowing fields. My Dad and his siblings worked hard, but found plenty of time for fun and mischief. His older brother Joe, and his lovely younger sister Mavis, have always laughed and told stories about one another. Sometimes, growing up, they refused to tattle on one another. My Grandmother’s solution was to spank all three of them. They never let that or any other issues divide them, and have always remained close.

I could tell you about all the businesses he’s started. Over 40. Our backyard in Los Angeles hosted several enterprises; fiberglass boats, flocked Christmas trees, and auto restorations. One of the most successful businesses, was Rio Linda Chemical Company (RLCC), in Sacramento. This company patented a process that is still recognized in the water treatment industry as extremely innovative. RLCC became a family business, involving my husband and brothers, which they managed for over 15 years until the business was sold to a Fortune 500 Company.

I could tell you about the ingenious machines he has built; several gold dredges, a chemical powder packaging machine fabricated entirely from scrap metal. He completely restored the body & rebuilt the engine of a 1994/1995 (depending on which end of the car you look at) Cadillac. He continues to drive this vehicle.

I could tell you about our camping adventures. He converted a 1934 Ford Long Bed (14 ft) truck into a moving van/sleeper, driving it over the graveled AL-CAN (Alaska-Canadian) Highway all the way to Alaska. We camped out every night sleeping under mosquito nets. And one summer we camped out for 3 months searching for uranium near Bishop, California.

I could tell you about how he likes to travel and see the world; five years ago, he and my mother joined Phil and I on a 21 day trip to China.

I could tell you about the sacrifices he made so my mother could finish college and get her teaching credential. He worked the swing shift ( from 3:00 in the afternoon, until 1:30 AM), so he could be home with us, while she took classes in the mornings. He drove back and forth from Placerville to the Bay area at least twice a week to work on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for several years. There was no construction work in El Dorado county. He and my mother preferred that my brothers and I be able to finish high school in one place.

I could tell you that he is devoted to his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He loves to attend birthday parties, school events and as many sports events as possible. Part of his legacy to his family is his faith; serving in the Baptist church as a deacon, and participating in the Gideon organization.

But I want to tell you about one of my treasured memories, that of course, centers around me. I loved Annie Oakley as a child and I desperately wanted a horse . We lived in the Los Angeles area, in a neighborhood with over sized backyard lots, not on any kind of acreage.

Riding stables were quite a distance from our home and costly. For some reason, my parents decided to buy me a burro. Burros are gentle and relatively safe for novice riders, easy keepers, very personable, and much less expensive than a horse.

We didn’t own a pick up, or a horse trailer, so my precious father, walked four miles, leading Pedro, the burro, home. A man of great dignity lead a burro along a busy highway, because his daughter “needed” something to ride.

Pedro was an instant neighborhood hit. I mean, really, who in L.A. has a resident donkey in their backyard ? I loved Pedro. He did get into some trouble with my mother when he kept pulling the freshly laundered clothes off the line. He really riled her though, when he ate my lovely new fluffy red petticoat. She took after him with a broom, walloping him, and yelling something about being a “son of a gun”. I rode him for hours round and round our backyard lot, content to dream of ” cowgirl” adventures.

My father had provided what I “needed” to the very best of his ability.

I feel extremely blessed to have such a wonderful Dad!

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy !

May all your infusions be blessed !


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