Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chapter 2 - You Can Call Me Dad

Here's the second chapter of my memories of my dad for my readers who knew the old man.
Dad was scarce in our lives when we were young. My mom used to fret that she would do all the hard work and, when we were old enough to become interesting to our dad, he would show up and seduce us with his wealth and charm and she would lose us. Clearly, there were some hard feelings on her side about my father.

Dad did indeed show up on occasion, when he was in town “for business,” meaning he had just been in Las Vegas gambling. It was easy to hop a commuter flight to Southern California to see his parents in Newport Beach and drop in to see how his gene pool was doing.  When he showed up, he seemed neither alien nor genuinely familiar, more like a character in a family story--or a cartoon strip.  As quickly as he appeared, he would be off again, often for years at a time. 

Fast forward to September of 1976: my mom, brothers, and I were living in a small house in Santa Monica, just south of Pico Boulevard. My mom and I got into it for some reason. Anyway, she said, “You’re just like your father.” I replied, “I’ve heard that all my life.” Going for a little more drama, she said, “I’m going to send you to live with your father.”  In a classic roll-the-eyes teenage fashion, I replied, “I’ve heard that all of my life too.”

I don’t remember what it was that made my mom so mad, but I’ll always remember her leaving my room abruptly and placing that fateful call to my dad.  She complained that I was “unmanageable” and asked my dad to take me. It didn’t really sink in that night though.  

I was almost 16. My friends were everything to me, and I was being sent away to live with my dad, a man I really didn't know, who lived on the other side of the country in Florida--he rather liked that Florida didn’t have income taxes and the year-round tennis weather sweetened the deal.  I had moved all my life, so change did not phase me. I was excited by a new adventure and the prospect of getting to know my dad finally.

Dad picked me up at the then small West Palm Beach airport in Levis and a Superman t-shirt. He was all smiles, blue eyes twinkling, gray hair standing out against his tan skin. He was handsome, and he was disarmingly funny.

Dad carried my suitcase to his brown Mercedes Benz, a car that I grew to associate with him and his life in Florida. He was newly single and seemed happy to have company. 

After a short drive from the airport, we arrived at his condominium complex, the Phoenix Towers, in Singer Island. When my dad opened his front door, I stepped into a small living room with some antiques he had bought at auctions and a view overlooking tennis courts below and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. 

Since, I showed up rather unexpectedly, his second bedroom was a mess of a ham radio room and the first priority was to get a bed for me (he found a Drexel bedroom set at, you guessed it, an auction that week). The second priority was for me to get my driver’s license and a car, so my dad wouldn’t have to cart me around. Third priority was to get me a checking account, so Dad wouldn’t have to take me shopping. I went from being one of three kids with a working mom who took care of all these things to being more like my dad’s roommate. 

My dad was always an entrepreneur, an ideas guy, and he didn’t have much patience for details. Before giving me a set of "wheels," he gave me a couple of driving lessons and a driver's education booklet to study. After giving me a day to memorize answers, he took me to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get my driver's license. To him, driving wasn’t rocket science and any kid of his should be coordinated enough to drive an automatic transmission car.  No driving supervised for 6 months. No practice with parallel parking or backing out of narrow spots. Just go do it and learn from your mistakes. That was his philosophy about new things. He bought me a used white Vega (circa early '70's) and I was driving within days, fortunately not back in L.A. traffic. 

After three weeks in Florida, my dad turned to me with a grin, saying, “I have noticed you have never called me ‘Dad.’ You can call me ‘Dad.’ You can call me ‘Stewart.’ You can call me anything you want, but you have to call me something.”  My dad was raised in Texas and greetings were important to him, even if the small talk that followed was not. I started calling him “Dad” and a new bridge was built in our relationship.


Teri said...

Yea, I am looking forward to the third installement.

Anonymous said...

I love hearing those early stories as I too "knew" your dad from his days when single (again) from his health letters and just before he married the spanish speaking lady . That was all so funny!

He was quite the character and I am thrilled to have you fill in so many details.


Anonymous said...

I just love reading all about your ventures and adventures with your fabulous Dad. It all started back in my try to lose weight days of the Swiss Formula and KF stuff. I was always motivated to be more healthy. I do miss him and his antics of getting the Kat President.Ha Ha. He certainly was an interesting man and he was one of a kind for sure. I used to look at the pictures of his carousel ranch place and whatever else he posted on the web. He never said a lot about himself so I never really did know much about his personal life. I look forward with anticipation to the next chapter.

lindab said...

thanks so much for filling us in and I also can't wait for 3rd installment.
Always looked forward to hearing about Dr. Jon's adventures, i.e., looking for wife, getting married, his carousel ranch, Kat for pres. and research for ingredients for vitamins.

lindab said...

thanks so much for filling us in and I also can't wait for 3rd installment.
Always looked forward to hearing about Dr. Jon's adventures, i.e., looking for wife, getting married, his carousel ranch, Kat for pres. and research for ingredients for vitamins.

Anonymous said...

I was a subscriber to Dr. Jon's medical newsletter & loved getting them. I remember when he married Raiza after a VERY brief courtship, & the time he tried to find a husband for her daughter via the internet. Very funny. I bought his supplements & use the Raiza creme for my face, although I'm sure that when my supply runs out I won't be able to get any more. I do miss Dr. Jon.

Stephen said...

I too go back to the pre-coop days with Dr. Jon and enjoyed participating in his ideas about health, radionics, colloidal silver, Raiza-cream (of which I still have a jar or two in the fridge), and just about everything he came up with. For a brief while, I had the privilege of giving him feedback and suggestions about his website.

I'm one of your earliest coop customers. I never put it together that your and Stephen were related to Dr. Jon. And I really am enjoying your stories.

Kim said...

I too subscribed to "Dr. Jon's" newsletters and enjoyed his ventures into this and then that. I was once upon a time a Raiza Cream user and enjoyed his stories of getting married to Raiza & starting Carosel Ranch, etc. I've been buying Co-0p supplements from the beginning too. He was indeed "one of a kind" and it is interesting to hear your stories of your Dad, Cindy. Looking forward to the next chapter!

Anonymous said...

Cindy....Thank you so much for this! :-)

Anonymous said...

I too have been associated with your dad's Co-op since early on. Yes, he seemed to be a man of mystery, yet one which also seemed to possesses a large heart probably due to being financially independent with a free spirit of adventure and of sharing - receiving his own dose value fulfillment in the process.

I found his attitude refreshingly different in comparison to the general corporate attitude permeating deeply in our lives. Anticipating more about your Dad...Pablo - St. Louis

Anonymous said...

Somehow while browsing the web, I stumbled upon your Dad's web site years ago. He seemed so personable and eager to share his knowledge of health. I have recommended Heart Plus to several people but do not know if they ever used it. Most of my friends and relatives think that I am crazy for taking so many supplements but I really believe that they have helped me.

Anonymous said...

Cindy, thank you so much for writing this. I sincerely hope that you will publish it in book form. I don't remember how I found "DR. Jon," but I always looked forward to the information he gave us.

I will always be a Co-op customer! (I really wish we could still have KF!)

Anonymous said...


I too was shipped off to my Father, just 3 days before my 16th Birthday! My life changed dramatically and yes, I too have been told my entire life that: "I'm just like my Dad"! Thanks for sharing...
Cindi H.