When I really take the time to sit and think about my father, one thing that comes to mind about him is that he never, ever, raised his voice at me even if I probably deserved it. My mom was more the disciplinarian and Dad was the one who thought up the fun things to do. He taught me how to fish in the little brook near our home, and he even had me baiting my own hook at a very early age. And while Mom was more the academic, Dad is the one who encouraged me to tell stories about things we’d see or talk about. These subjects ranged from the deer we’d see in the woods near our home, to the tree fort we were planning to build.
Another image that comes up when I think of my dad is orange popsicles and beer! Sounds like a strange combination, I know. But these are the things we’d buy at Streeter’s Package Store in Colrain. I hope I don’t have to tell you the popsicle, always orange, was for me, and the beer, always Reingold, was for Dad. These purchases always occurred after Dad had picked me up from spending a day with my cousins in Shelburne Falls. We’d then head to our home in Leyden, me with orange popsicle running down my arms and Dad with an opened bottle of beer between his legs, both of us singing the Reingold Beer jingle. “My beer is Reingold the dry beer, think of Reingold whenever you buy beer.” Oh well, now you know why I never took up singing as a career.
Another thing I recall is the time my sister, Marcia, and I both came down with measles at the same time. As I recall, there had been a huge outbreak of the disease in this area after the showing of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” at the Garden Theater. It seems the majority of kids attending the movie had come down with the ailment. Since Marcia and I had gone to see that movie, I’m assuming that’s where we came up with the affliction. I remember my parents setting up two beds in our large living room in order to make it easier to care for Marcia and myself. This was way before we even thought of having TV so the time dragged on slowly for a five-year-old and an eleven year old. Marcia, was an avid reader so she was able to entertain herself a little better, but I hadn’t started school yet and so had not attained that skill. This made for a very bored and restless five-year-old.
Dad, taking sympathy on my plight, put a couple of screw eyes into the large old chestnut beam that ran across the ceiling above my bed. He then attached long strings to two toy airplanes he’d purchased and from there he and I would have make-believe airplane fights. We’d get those air planes swinging and bumping into each other and see who could bang into whom first. As I think about it now, this was only about six years after the end of WW II so this might explain why one of us was always the Americans and the other was always the Japanese. Of course, this meant nothing to me at the time. It was just a fun game that helped the time pass more quickly. Thinking back on all this, it’s no wonder I leaned heavily towards being a tomboy in those early years.
And now for the piece de resistance, at least as far as my father is concerned. My father is responsible for a real miracle. It’s amazing! It’s colossal! Yes, it’s a real miracle! My father, Robert Harding Davis, is 100% responsible for getting me to not only eat, but to also like the crust on the end of a loaf of bread! How, you might ask, did he accomplish such a miraculous feat? It was quite spectacular, really. It was a day when Mom had prepared hot dogs and beans for supper. But there was also a great tragedy that had occurred. Sadly, Mom had forgotten to pick up hot dog buns. She suggested we could just use bread. Oh no! Not that! That would never do! But not to worry, for Dad, the miracle worker, suggested to me, the most offended by the lack of real buns, that a bread crust made an exemplary replacement for a hot dog bun!
“Go ahead. Try it,” he said, perhaps just a little too enthusiastically.
So I was convinced. This was, after all, my dad. Yes, my dad who wouldn’t suggest anything he hadn’t already tried himself. So I bravely went ahead and put my mustard and relish on the crust and wrapped it around the hot dog. Lo and behold, the miracle occurred. The crust did not fall apart! It stayed together as well as any old hot dog bun. Maybe even better! I’m not going to say that the skies opened up and that angelic music started playing, but there, in that little kitchen in Leyden Massachusetts, a real miracle occurred. You see, I’m quite sure I was, at that point in time, the very first child in the United States who really loved bread crust. I still do. I have not, as yet, built a statue to honor my dad, the patron saint of bread crust, but really, I’m considering it!