July 9, 2003

Obie

Papablog.jpg
Happy Birthday, Papa.

Obie Hollingsworth, Jr.
Rest in Peace.
1932 - 2000


I remember a day when we were living in Panama so long ago. My brother and I were in grade school at Howard Air Force base, the Canal Zone. When I think of those days, it's a tropical memory, heavy humid air, beauitful sunny days, lush jungle vegetation, stunning beaches. Johnson grass grew tall and was ubiqutious. The edges of the grass blades were sharp enough to cut the skin if you weren't careful. In those days, we had animals at home: toucans, iguanas, parakeets.

Our school in my mind has that vivid sheen of a memory forged through a child's eyes. Scale is dramatic, color is searing, sensations sharper. I was in the third grade, my brother was in kindergarden. I remember reading Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel", and a book about Egypt, the annual flooding of the Nile.

One day, my father appeared in our school and pulled some special Dad authority to get his kids out of class. It must have been something important, I remember thinking. We processed out of the place, special papers and all. My brother and I clambered into the blue Impala station wagon. There was fishing tackle in the back, which was not that unusual, Papa liked the outdoors.

We drove for a bit. My Dad wasn't a chatty guy. He was in a good mood, but then he usually was anyway. I asked what was going on, but he was cryptic, smiling. We talked about what we were learning in school. Papa was comfortable in a car, a streak of wanderlust runs in the family.

We pulled into the jungle and ambled down primitve roads. Bush. And we stopped at a stream deep enough in places to be in over your head. Papa looked over to us and winked: "We're goin' fishin'!

All that day he spoke of his love for nature. The smell of the homemade bait. A little sunburn. Sandwiches and Cokes. I don't remember catching anything. It didn't matter anyway.

Posted by Dennis at July 9, 2003 5:40 AM

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