First came into my life two years after I was born.
My biological father left before I was born, he never was in my life.
I had a sister, Tari, she was three years old when I was born, he left her too.
So needless to say, no more need be said, about this man.
This is the story about MY Father!
As " I " knew him.
I am told that my mother was a "carhop" on roller skates at a drive-up restaurant next-door to the Dairy Queen that my dad worked at, when they met.
He married my mother in 1958 Who already had children
And treated us as good as he possibly could considering the circumstances.
He adopted us who were not his and gave us his name.
And until 1968 endured hardships that most would have walked away from, understandably!
I don't really have any early memories of him, but this one thing I do have, is that I don't ever remember him not being there.
There ARE few memories I have of my childhood at 2410 William Street, Champaign Illinois:
He was the Manager of The Dairy Queen at 1209 N. Prospect Ave. His hours were from 11 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night. So he would leave for work after we went to school and generally came home after we were in bed. And this was every day March through October.
After he closed the Dairy Queen down October 31st, he would start the process of setting up the DQ lots in the twin Cities (which were 3 lots ) to sell Christmas trees. Then the week or so after Christmas he would be cleaning the Christmas tree lots up.
So the two or three times I remember ever going on a vacation was in the early part of January.
I don't know of any time when we went on a vacation in the summer.
It was one of these January vacation times that we went to Winchester Kentucky, where his parents lived. The only time i met my grandma, I was 10 maybe, she wasn't much taller than me, all I remember was her hugging me, which was something I had never had experienced before! I was uncomfortable,
but remembered I liked the idea of it! All I remember her saying " I'm kinda partial to little boys" that sounded so alien to me too! but I liked it. She always called my dad Junior.
Grandpa seemed like kind of a grump, like old guys are supposed to be like, I guess.
But I remember another time with him, might have been after my grandmother died, that he said he wanted to give me this old Cadillac in his backyard, Man! I got so excited...it was a 59 model, with those fins on the back, they were the longest car ever, but I wouldn't of cared of it was a Corvair, that didn't work!
My dad was the best whistler, he would whistle all the time, he turned on that easy listening music on station WDWS radio in the car, and whistle all the way to Kickapoo.
I also remember he was the best potato peeler too! And he could whistle up some tunes while doing that too!
Stirring strawberries at the DQ - I used to love to watch him get the toppings ready for the day, he would be whistling here too, he would just love to eat those fresh strawberries and pineapples and bananas as he's cutting and mixing with the syrups and sugars together. He had an electric drill with a long paint stirring attachment on it, that blended all together and mix it that way in metal containers.
We would go ice fishing - this was something I didn't have much use for, we d be out on a frozen wind whipped lake huddled around a little hole in the ice sitting on 5 gallon buckets, with our string and hook with frozen worm on it waiting to catch a fish, I don't even remember us catching anything to keep.
And the worst part was there were others out there doing the same thing but they had these nice little igloos to sit in.
Going to Kickapoo - this was the state park that was the nearest to us, he used to like to go fishing over there. Aunt Betty said that's all Junior would want to do when he was a boy, he would always be out there by himself fishing. I didn't care too much for fishing I never ever caught a fish in my life, I would normally go off walking the paths trying to imagine something up to interest myself.
He always had a station wagon, and we would go to Drive-in movies once or twice a month. My mother made the best popcorn, we all learned how to make it like her. You melt the right amount of bacon grease in the popcorn pot, pour just enough kernels to cover the bottom without over lapping them, put lid on as fire turned up all the way, shake now and then and wait just long enough to hear the very last kernel pop. Take off fire immediately, take lid off and salt while still in the pot, shaking it all the while, then pour into the Tupperware bowls. Then melt a quarter stick of butter and pour over the popcorn shaking it at the the same time also. Each of us olders would have our own bowls, but we all would have to share with Jill and Robin.
When we got to the movie, we would roll the windows down and I would sit on the window ledge, arms over the roof with our popcorn. Tari and Cheryl doing the same but on the tailgate of the car.
On the way home most everybody would be asleep. We would always have to stop by the Dairy Queen, So he could pick up the end of day monies and close up. I'd always be awake, so I would get to go inside with my dad and get one of the mistakes that was made.
I remember him driving to the old lady's house where he rented out her garage and stored all his paper goods for the store.
I remember going to the bank with him and I always get a lollipop.
He was the best at making an ice cream cone, with the perfect curlicue on top, just like the picture of a DQ cone on his sign on top the store.
When I was about nine or 10 years old, He would take me to the store and I would pick up all the trash around the lot, and pay me a little.
I was just so happy not to have to be at home.
About that same, He let me help them at the Christmas tree lot, that was the chance to actually got to be with working men.Doing real man things.
They let me get up on the top of the Christmas tree truck, that brought the frozen trees down from northern Michigan, and hurl all those Christmas trees down butt first.
We used to like to see how close we could get to Mr. Johnson.
We would drink hot chocolate and hamburgers from Top Boy across the street, while we were all huddled up in that small 6 foot wide 10 foot long shed with a heater inside.
February was always the time of painting and getting the Dairy Queen ready to open. I used to watch him paint the walls inside. He could paint straight lines and not make any mess painting, also he could paint around glass and do it so precisely, right to the edge, no mess no scraping no tape, I learned to do that too.
Not long before the divorce I remember going to see him his work room that was such a place of awe to me, it had the neatest stuff in it,
I remember the picture of his grandfather sitting in a rocking chair, this is about the time his mother died, he told me he was going to have to leave for a little while I was very sad and full of dread.
I think he was gone for the whole winter. I remember nothing about what happened them.
But when he came back, he told me that my mother and two sisters where going to live in the other house that he still had six blocks away on Carrolton Street.
And then he said something, like lifted a great weight off of me!... That me and Jill and Robin we're going to stay with him.
By the time the summer was over Tari and Cheryl was back at our house.
I remember the towel fights.
He would come home late 11 - 11:30 most of time us older ones and him would sit downstairs and watch TV, The Johnny Carson show, eat popcorn and drink hot tea, but there times...somebody would smack somebody with a towel and a huge towel fight would erupt.
He could whip a towel better than anyone! Me and Tari and Cheryl got pretty good too! The fight would eventually go outside so not to wake up Jill and Robin.
We be running around all over the neighborhood, one of us would pop Tari, it would all be over then, she could let out a bloodcurdling scream and we start seeing lights come on so we all have to go home and watch TV.
The ping-pong games - My dad, could play one mean game of ping pong, we had a table in the basement. He would always win and on the winning point could spike that ball, no body could do anything with!
Very soon afterward Tari left.
He couldn't keep live in housekeepers very long.
But were all getting old enough to do all the housework anyway.
Well I was such a messed up boy, running around with kids smoking cigarettes, drinking boons farm wine and beer, started with drugs wanted to grow my hair long.
I was convinced that he was an unreasonable tyrant, by the kids I was running around with, but I also know they really didn't like me, I know because they used to talk behind my back... Right to my face! They told me that I should run away, don't put up with it!
One day after smoking pot with some of them I was at the supper table, got up and passed out. He said "I'm gonna have to take you to the doctor tomorrow see what's wrong with you". Yikes!!
The next morning when I was supposed to go to school I didn't. That night I slept in a utility closet I knew of that were in some apartments I used to deliver newspapers.
The next day as I was standing with couple of those guys, one said, "hey there's your dad, you better take off ", which I did, he chased me in his car, I wouldn't get near as he angrily pleaded with me to get in, but I wouldn't. That was the beginning of my crazy new but soon to be dark life.
I didn't run away from him or any harsh rules, that's just a front, I was just so scared and messed up, I just ran away!
A few years later; The night he picked me up at the airport - After being flown back up from Orlando where I was arrested for being a runaway, He took me to the house, where I slept the night, then in the morning he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to go back to Danville, Where that adventure started. He took me interstate 74.
I went by there again in the winter of 1977, He received The call that his dad died during his sleep.
He asked if I wanted to go to the funeral, and I said no. I took off again.
Later that year was when I had that experience I wrote on earlier, that started in Van Horn Texas up thru Wyoming, then to California. Then to Idaho where I made my decision, that I did not want to die out there on the side of the road one day, I made it back to Champaign.
I was standing in that line at the Dairy Queen window waiting my turn to get to the window, then looking at me and asking "what can I get for you?"
- Then to see his eyes open wide, He was actually glad to see me!! I had never seen that look on any ones face! I had only seen that look for others, I had always wanted someone to show me I was wanted, and that knowing before!
He said "give me a minute I'll meet you out back". I asked him if I could stay at his house, I couldn't live out there anymore.
He didn't question me at all, he said of course! But I don't have a bed for you to sleep on. I said I could sleep on the floor.
A couple months later he told me he had seen a doctor and as soon as he closed the store down for the year he was going to have surgery because he had lung cancer.
I really didn't understand the severity of what he was telling me.
I do know, later that day I was sitting there in my room started to cry, really heavily! I never had before been this sad. I couldn't stop.
We never really had a talking relationship, nothing real deep. He did most of the talking. He was a very smart, insightful man.
I think it was impossible for me to have a one - on - one conversation with anyone. Still not great at that. I can seem to write out what I have to say understandable though.
I was such a messed up and bound in fear kid.
All my feelings which were completely confused were all bottled up inside of me, words that were bound up inside me, with no way to be expressed, for I knew not how to say them till now.
But he was my father as much as he could possibly be to the me that I was.
Considering the messed up person I was, and still was at that time. I think he understood.
After the surgery I around there during the week, we talked a little, but on the weekends I would go off on my driving excursions.
They did not do chemotherapy but they did do radiation treatments on him, that drained all the energy out of him.
I would go to the Dairy Queen and help him when he was getting it ready to open and find him laying on the freezer drained of all energy.
August 1979 all the trouble that I had accumulated caught up with me in Gary Indiana while on one of my drinking expeditions.
I called and told him, he got a lawyer and got me out of that temporarily, because he knew he was going to die soon.
He died the next month.
At his funeral Tari was sitting behind me, She wasn't really being disrespectful.
You just have to know Tari!
But as soon as the singing started she couldn't help herself she let out this bloodcurdling shreek of laughter! At least it curdled my blood, I wanted to strangle her, not only was I embarrassed but she scared the living daylights out of me, which is embarrassing too
But when they handed me the flag...
So I wanted to write about the man, who took me as his own and didn't have to. He adopted me and gave me his honorable name, and didn't have to. I've been told he found me passed out drunk in the yard and carried me inside. Hes the only one that never left me, and could've. Hes the one who wanted me, tho I was not his!
Hes the man that showed me not with his words but with his life, showed me what a father is supposed to be: To fulfill your responsibility no matter the obstacles, and we saw some!
Stick with it no matter what!
So if I were to be proud of anything
I'm proud to be a Hudgens
But I will be forever grateful to be the only son of Roscoe J Hudgens
He showed me to be the man that I am.
What a BEAUTIFUL story! How wonderful to tell the legacy of such an honorable man. Many fathers could learn so much about unconditional love if they read this. Thank you for sharing your memories!ReplyDelete