When my dad was a young man, he decided to leave the cold climate of Wisconsin, and move to sunny California to start a new life. He went to work for Douglas Aircraft, and he did very well there. He probably would have stayed there had World War II not intervened. I sometimes wonder how his life might have been different had he stayed there, or had he gone back there after the war. Would he have met my mom, and if so, would we have all lived in California. I can’t say that I am sorry that his life took the path that it did, because it made him the man who became my dad. His path shaped who he was and who we all became, and that is just fine with me. I don’t think I would have wanted to be anywhere else really, even though I sometimes wish I lived somewhere warm.
Nevertheless, as I look at some of the pictures of him at that time, a thought forms in my mind. My dad looks like a Hollywood Producer…or at least what I picture a Hollywood Producer looking like at that time in history. He is standing next to a modern automobile…at least it was then, and wearing a nice suit…much like I would expect a Hollywood Producer of that era to be wearing. I don’t know what event my dad was going to, or if he was just dressed up so he could get a good picture to show off his car, but I do know that he looked real classy. As I have looked through the old pictures my dad had, the pictures from California were very intriguing to me. California is probably the least like my dad’s personality of any state in the United States. He always liked the mountains and the rural areas of the country. That is something I agree with. I love the mountains, and I don’t like congested areas. So, what had drawn him to California?
It is rather strange for me to think of my dad living in California. It seems so out of character for him, except for the ocean and the Redwoods, both of which he always loved. Other than that, he never was the California type. Nevertheless, California might have been very different then, but I just don’t think it fit his personality. Still, he was a young man then, and I’m sure he was trying out new things, to see who he was and where he wanted to be. Nevertheless, I can’t imagine my dad doing anything but the work he did. During the years he was growing up, he and his brother liked to build things, so mechanical things were more their style, and that along with the welding he learned back then, were his life’s work. He definitely isn’t a Hollywood Producer type, but as they say, “He sure did clean up nice!”
I first met Anthony at a family Christmas party. My cousins were taking in foster children, and this tiny little baby with loads of dark hair was one of those children. The difference between this baby and any other foster children they had, is that they fell in love with this one…in fact, we all did. Soon Anthony was a part of their family and ours. He had joined a rather large family, with over 250 people all living here in Casper…and that was back then, we are much larger today. Thankfully for Anthony, he didn’t have the chance to feel overwhelmed by that, because coming in as a newborn, it was all just natural to him. It was all he ever knew.
As things go in big families, there were times when we didn’t see much of the cousins and their children, and the bigger a family gets, the harder it is to get together. Such was the case with Anthony and me. Then one day when I was attending grandparents’ day at my grandson, Caalab’s class, and Caalab was showing me his desk, I passed by a desk with the name tag, Anthony McDaniels on it. I quickly looked around and sure enough, there was Anthony, in my grandson’s class. I told Caalab that Anthony was his cousin, and he said with a smile, “He is?” I told him to tell Anthony that they were cousins, and when he did, Anthony said, “No, we aren’t” When Caalab told me that, I said, “Tell Anthony to ask his mother about it?” Well, the very next day, Anthony came to school all smiles and told Caalab that they were, indeed, cousins. They were both excited about that then. I don’t think they had classes together after that year, but they always knew that they were cousins.
Anthony has grown into a terrific young man, who is an asset to our family. He is full of fun and always smiling. Anthony is a man who does his own thing, like wearing a suit to school sometimes, and asking others to join him. At a time when most kids are dressing down, he dresses up, and that is very cool. People have to be comfortable enough in their own skin to do what they like, even if they do it alone. Way to go Anthony!! Today is Anthony’s birthday!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!