Saturday, October 18, 2008

5 Years Ago

As hoped (and prayed - Thank You, Lord!) I did come across Dad's story. Be sure to read it in a masculine voice with a southern accent. Here is how this story came to be.

Well, hello! Good of you to stop by. My name is John Casper Rogers. I'm dealing with dementia and throat cancer or I'd be pleased to shake your hand and visit a spell. We could talk about lots of things.

I spent over 20 years in the military once I convinced my folks to let me join at 17. They wanted me to use my full football scholarship to UT but I hated school. I married my high school sweetheart after basic training then spent four years in the Army at Ft. Gordon in GA and in W. Germany where my girl was born (She has 4 kids & lives in FL now). I took some time off in my native TN where my son was born (He and his daughter don't live too far from my house now). Then I spent over 16 years in the Air Force. I served a tour in Vietnam, and was stationed at Gunter and Maxwell; at Warren in Cheyenne, WY; and at Lackland in San Antonio, TX. I was one of only 17 gunsmiths for the Air Force. Part of my job included designing tools and working on weapons for the CIA, FBI and the USA Olympic Team. I couldn't shoot in the Olympics because I was a "professional". I retired at age 40 as a Master Sergeant.

I was a professional wrestler while stationed in Montgomery. Remember booing the masked Mr. X in the early 70s? That was me!

I have always loved the outdoors; camping, hunting, fishing, canoeing, frog gigging, collecting the Indian rocks and other stuff I found laying around. I've had all sorts of pets including a skunk and baby possums. Always had dogs & cats. I started doing taxidermy work when I was in high school. I fooled around with that professionally and otherwise for over 20 years. I built my own home in the country after retiring in '85. I helped friends with their houses too. I've designed and built furniture, gun stocks and knives. I had a side business selling things I designed and built: one-handed clocks, bird feeders and houses, and adjustable quilting frames. I was part owner of a hunting guide co-op. I worked as a jailer in Lee and Tallapoosa Counties for about four years. I taught the weapons portion of the hunters safety course.

If we had gotten together a few years ago I could have helped you with any gun problem or sharpened your knives. You'd have to be careful or you might get caught in one of my practical jokes. You wouldn't catch me though! You might could have attended one of my fish fries (no, you may not have my recipe!) or wiener roasts. You would have heard stories, I know. I could have told you about the day I caught a 10, 11 and 12 lb. bass within 10 minutes or the day I shot an angry bull elk in WY using a bullet that had misfired in a friend's gun. You'd've met my wife of 41 years, "the hatchet" (she's not big enough to be a battle axe) and listened to me sing with my good dog, Toad. You might have laughed at how I strung-out my son-in-law by playing with a .45 while he was trying to ask to marry my daughter. You could have tried my deer jerky - now the hot is REALLY HOT. We would've fed the fish in the pond and walked up to the barn or down to the creek.

But this is now. Thanks for taking the time to read and for stopping by.

I had to track down & scan some photos. They were not put away for safe keeping. They were put away to keep from reminding me what a horrible job I'm doing keeping track of family momentoes. I'm not a scrapbooker, just a shutterbug pack rat. I love digital!

The pictures look much better in person but maybe you'll enjoy them anyhow, or you can come see them & have a little visit with me while you're at it. If awful looking photos give you the heebie jeebies, RUN! Or quickly click to another page.

1964 My parents and their sweet little bundle of joy: ME!
Mom said that I cried a lot. Sorry.
She also told me that well before I was born, Dad had chosen my name, Patricia Ann & said that I would not have a nickname. Guess who shortened it? Yeppers, it was him.
Hm. Sure glad I grew some hair. :-)

This is a military photo taken just before he shipped off to Vietnam. As you can see, he was not at all happy about it.
It was life changing for him both for the memories (I heard some of the horrible stories) and the agent orange effects> probably the reason Alzheimer's hit so early. Mom said he came back a different person.

This was taken much later, early 80s I would guess.
What do you get the person who has EVERYTHING when you have a very limited budget? Banjo strings - just what he needed. That plus some creative packaging put that smile on his face. :-)

BTW, the banjo was easier to make than it was to wrap!

1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN
Notice my graduation hair has grown a little. When I met Stan just a few months later, my hair was shorter than his. :-)

This is one of my favorite family photos. Stan is in the picture now so I'm guessing '84. This is in front of my parent's home in TX.

The faces look blurry to me, but I'm the one in the white dress. Carrying the flowers. On the left.

Right before we walked through the door Dad said, "If you want to run (away), I'll go with you." What a trooper.
I had stressed so much before the wedding that I lost weight & had to pin my garters. As I felt them slipping down my legs I whispered to Dad that they were falling down.
He whispered back, "That's okay. My pants are falling down."

He left the day after my wedding to start building a retirement home in Alabama. These were taken there.

This is either his office or den. He is sitting at the desk. Trust me, he's there. On the wall are his taxidermied animals including the elk from WY and the 3 large largemouth bass. He added an 8 pounder and always hoped to get a 9 lb. for an inside straight.

In the fall of 1985 I took a trip to AL & TN so the family could see I was really alive after my horrible car accident. Dad was still working-on the house while I was in the hospital & asked if he should come to TX. I said no. He went to the only store for miles, bought one of every get-well card they had & sent me one every day. He later said that he didn't want to come but that truck of his sure wanted to.

I included this photo because he told me, "Here, hold these (sugar cane) a minute," then walked away down the road. What a joker.

Dad with Jacob, his oldest grandchild in 1988/89.

Dad with Rachel, his youngest grandchild. In case you can't tell, she is brushing his beard. He was already having Alzheimer's issues in 1999. He was 54.

Today at church, Bro. Scott read an Operation Christmas Child letter he'd received from a girl in India who lives in an orphanage because her dad died when she was three. I'm thankful that I had a dad around until I was 39. Thank you, Father in Heaven, for the blessings of good memories.


Alice said...

This is all beautiful, Patti, and you have such wonderful memories of your dad. No one can ever take those away from you. I love the letter you wrote for your dad. I can well imagine that it got the attention of his caregivers and brought about a lot more respect for him. He was blessed to have you as his daughter. Thanks for posting this and the earlier one.

daynagonzalez said...

I can see where Jacob gets his sense of humor. :o)

Wife and Mom said...

This is really great and I'm glad that you posted it.