Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering Dad--III

Remembering Dad—III

            Dad, as I have explained earlier, planned to be a career bureaucrat.  This plan was altered when he was told after serving in the War Crimes Trials, that he could not be sent back west, i.e. he would have to serve in Washington D.C.  So he moved back to Pocatello and started his private practice with George Hargraves.  George proved to be not the best possible partner.  His heart was more into his numerous hobbies, especially photography.  I suspect that George kept hoping that his photos, which won numerous prizes at fairs and other contests for amateurs, would somehow work into a full-time position, but it never did, so he slogged away at the law, mostly with a great deal of help from Dad.
            Anyway Dad also became more and more disenchanted with small-town law practice, but his out became the hope that he would be appointed to the district bench.  I suspect that he applied several times with no luck.  Finally, he decided to run against an incumbent judge—something, which, in Idaho at least, had never been successful.  Dad felt, however, that there was some hope.  He was a prominent member of the community.  He was a Stake President, the head of the local school board, and had been involved in numerous ways with community music groups e.g. he had been in charge of community concerts, had won several contests as part of a popular Lion’s Club Quartet, sang frequently at the local Sunday Afternoon concert series in the park and other such activities. 
            One of the main reasons he hoped to be successful, was that the judge he hoped to replace had a serious alcohol problem—something that Dad could not, or, at least, did not, report in his campaign literature.  But he could, and did, report that the judge frequently missed scheduled trial dates.
            Unfortunately, all of that didn’t overcome the strong prejudice against unseating an incumbent judge and Dad lost the election.  Two years later he tried again to unseat a judge of whom he really could not say anything negative.  Once again, he lost the election.
            By this time, it had become clear that the practice of law had become almost unbearable for him.  But the final blow came when the Idaho Judicial Committee finally brought action against the first judge Dad ran against.  His alcoholism had made him essentially incompetent.  Dad, of course, applied for the position and was fairly confident that he would be appointed.  The committee, however, in what was an obvious slap in the face to Dad, appointed George Hargraves instead.  I suspect that the real reason for the obvious slight was Dad’s prominent LDS Church position.
            Dad was devastated.  He then applied to be a Federal Administrative Law Judge with the Social Security Administration.
            He was walking out the door to attend General Conference when he got a call from the Social Security Administrator.  They had a large back log of black lung cases in West Virginia that needed immediate attention.  Although the cases were for miners living and working in West Virginia, the court was in Roanoke, Virginia.  Dad was told that, if he accepted the position he would have to be on the job in a few weeks, as timing was critical.  He was also told that he needed to give his response within a couple of days.  He said that he could not immediately respond but that he would do so early in the next week.  While at conference, he met with Elder Boyd K. Packer, who had called him to be Stake President and laid out his dilemma, i.e. he would like to accept the position, but felt that he had only been Stake President a few years and felt that he could not leave the calling without Church approval.  Elder Packer told him to go ahead and accept the opportunity, which Dad did.  He left Mom in charge of closing down anything in his practice that he could not personally close out in a couple of weeks and he headed off to Virginia.
            Dad came back twice.  Once for Stake Conference where he was released by Gordon B. Hinckley and once for our grand farewell party on Thanksgiving.  Dad came back, rented (or borrowed) a very rickety trailer.  The idea was that we would all get together, pack all that Mom and Dad needed to take to Virginia in the trailer, put all of the rest of the stuff in the house in two locked rooms in the basement, and have a big Thanksgiving/”farewell to the homestead” dinner, after which, Mom and Dad would take off in time for Dad to drive back and be at work Monday morning.  That was the plan.  Wednesday night we got the stuff that was to stay behind in the rooms safely locked away.  But all night it snowed.  Thursday morning we woke up to a blizzard.  Dad announced that he and Mom would have to leave as soon as they could get whatever was left onto the trailer and take off, which they did in a matter of minutes.  Lonnie, Allen, Gavin, and Libby said they would go on home so they promptly took off.  I said I was headed back to the “Y”, but Dad pulled me aside just before he left.
            “I’m sorry son,” he said, “but I’m going to have to ask you to stay until tomorrow.  The real estate agent doesn’t have a key and he is out of town for today.  He told me he will be here first thing in the morning.  You’ll have to stay here tonight and give him the key in the morning.  Here is $5.  Go into town and buy yourself a nice Thanksgiving dinner.”
            That was the loneliest, possibly saddest, day and night of my life.  For lunch I went into town to a restaurant. Unlike today, almost no one ate in restaurants for Thanksgiving, so the place was almost deserted.  I went back to the house and spent the evening looking over the place remembering the many wonderful experiences I had had in that home.  I was sure I would never see the place again, but I was wrong.
            A few years later, Erin and I along with Mom and Dad spent the night at Loni and Allen’s place in Rexburg.  We then, for whatever reason, I don’t remember, were headed together to Salt Lake City.  On the way Dad decided that he wanted to get some things out of storage so we stopped at the homestead and explained to the lady renting the place what we wanted to do.  While we were getting the things out of storage the lady came downstairs and said in an excited tone of voice, “Are any of you from Rexburg?”  Allen said that he was.  “Well,” she continued excitedly, “I’ve been listening to the radio and the Teton Dam just broke and is flooding Rexburg!”  The only response to that which I remember was Allen muttering in a perturbed tone of voice, “Why would the government build a dam that would break.”  At any rate, I remember that we parted company at that point, with Allen and Loni rushing back to Rexburg and the rest of us continuing on to Salt Lake.
            A few days later Loni was telling me what a miracle it was that the dam broke during the day.  “Just think,” she said, “if it had broken just 8 hours earlier I would have lost my two sons who were sleeping in the basement!”  (Unlike many of her neighbors, Loni’s house was not moved off its foundation and only the basement was flooded.)
            I pointed out to her that this was an exceedingly narrow point of view, since if the dam had broken 8 hours earlier she would have lost not only her two sons, but two of her brothers, who were also sleeping in the basement, as well.  “I had completely forgotten about that”, she admitted.
            The next, and final time, I actually went inside the homestead, was after I was married and had at least one, possibly two, children.  The renters had moved out and Dad, Mom, Shauna and I and possibly some of the rest of the family, went to clean the place up for new renters.  I remember sleeping in sleeping bags and I remember cleaning the beer stains from the ceiling.  Apparently, the previous renters had been so exuberant in their drinking habits that they would throw beer up on the ceiling.  This was a good experience because having to clean the mess up somewhat diminished the sentimental attachment I felt for the old homestead.  But I still remember with a great deal of fondness the wonderful experiences I had there.

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