Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Memories of "Pop"

My father Isaac (third from left in front) with his brother Ed and my cousin Bud during a fishing trip at Cape May, New Jersey - 1957
My father was never close to me. I suspect he didn't want kids. 

I am the oldest of his three sons. I think at first he may have been vaguely interested in the novelty of having a child but when he found out I favored my Mother, he quickly lost interest in me. 

The best I can say about my father is that he never abused me, either physically or sexually. Thank goodness for that. I've heard horror stories from others whose fathers did abuse them, both sexually and physically. Oh sure, we got "whippings" (with a belt, but no buckle) but no serious damage was done. The "whippings" were more to get our attention and a staple of raising children in the Fifties. 

My father was indifferent and often annoyed by his three sons.  However, he did favor my youngest brother. Brother John was "the pet." A fact I greatly resented when I was growing up. Those feelings of regret faded away after I became an adult and Brother John and I became friends. 

My second youngest brother, Isaac, was the classic Middle Child. I received most of my Mother's attention (and probably was considered her "pet") and John was the Favored Child of our Father.

We all called my father "Pop."  Not "Dad", or any other common nickname for a father. 

One thing I always regretted was that Pop never took me anywhere with him. Correction, he did take me to a fishing rodeo when I was ten years old.  He took me with his favorite brother Ed (my father had ten brothers) and his son Ed ("Bud"), Jr.

Me and my cousin Ed "Bud" Tipton Sept. 1, 1951 - I won the Chester County Fishing Rode0

By a fluke I won that fishing rodeo by catching the biggest trout of the day, 13 inches. My win was featured in our local newspaper. I had my picture taken with my cousin Bud, who was and is the same age as I am. That was the last time my father ever took me anywhere with him.

He never attended any of my school events, including my graduation. I will never forget my humiliation when my family didn't attend my graduation from Army Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. I think I was the only recruit whose parents didn't attend that ceremony. I've blotted out of my memory what I did that cold, gray, bleak day in March of 1960. I could understand him not attending any of my high school events (I was in band and chorus and track) but somehow, his absence from that basic training graduation really stabbed me to my heart. I became numb to his feelings for me after that. 

Me, Army Recruit - Alone (again) - 1960

When I was in the hospital, off and on for six months before I joined the Army, near death from a staph infection, he never visited me once. I expected that but by not attending my graduation from Army Basic Training, was different. Being sick wasn't something I "accomplished" but graduating from Basic Training was a big accomplishment for me. 

The photo above is of my father and his favorite brother Ed (and my cousin Bud) during a fishing trip they took in 1957 at Cape May, New Jersey. While organizing my photos about an hour ago I came across this photo and it triggered all those bad memories of my growing up with a distant and disinterested father. A father who didn't want me. Is that why I'm gay? I've often wondered.


Practical Parsimony said...

Those are such sad memories. I managed to dredge up some equally sad ones. Sometimes, I just forget about all that. At least we both turned out okay for all we bore.

WARPed said...

Hi Ron,

Interesting that your life partner is a older man.



Raybeard said...

Yes, things like what you describe as a stab to the heart, really hurt for a lifetime. When people say that they "don't bear grudges" I can scarcely believe them because I certainly do - and can never forgive much as I'd like to. But I can well see that this slight to you from your 'pop', who should have known better but didn't care too much anyway, must have rankled like hell - and clearly after all these years, it still does. I'd have felt exact;y the same.

Mike said...

Thanks for sharing this account of your relationship. Brings tears, Ron. My father was mostly absent during my formative years, we saw more of each other later in life but never came to grips with our problems. He died at 62 when I was 30. I cried and sobbed all night after the funeral. There were so many things I wanted to share with him but couldn't. I never told him I loved him.

Re. Is that why I'm gay? There may be environmental factors but I think it's genetic.

pat888 said...

Hey Ron - it's the classic nature vs nurture. I certainly think nurture has to have something the way we turn out - for good or bad. The way you and your brothers called your father Pop reminds me of the Nelson family. Ricky and David did that too - but it might have been for tv. My dad was indifferent to me as well. I used to think I had more of a relationship with an inanimate article like the kitchen chair than with my father. But I figured later that he must have had a lot of issues he was dealing with. It would have been interesting to me to know more about his immediate family and upbringing. btw - great picture of you with your cousin Bud.


Ur-spo said...

There is no evidence or correlation of fathers rejecting sons leads to homosexuality in the sons.
There is a ? bit of fathers sensing at some level the homosexuality in their sons and pulling away.