This will be the first Father’s Day that I won’t be able to talk to my dad by phone or in person. He died at the ripe old age of 94 back in February. Wish you could have known him.
At a celebration of his 75th birthday, I said that the three men I admired most were Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and my dad. That’s pretty impressive company.
My earliest memory of my dad was when I was about 3 or 4 years old and he used to pick me up and kiss me, which I absolutely hated because he had prickly facial hair that scratched my baby face. I would run away from him when I saw him coming and he would chase me down.
He and my mom grew up during the Depression, and he told stories of deprivation and eating what today would be considered dog food because money was so tight. I remember he and my mom were obsessive about requiring me and my four siblings to eat everything on the dinner plate as a matter of ethical obligation. You didn’t let food go to waste in the Moore household — and now I’m obsessive about it. The millennials have no idea.
He was a member of the Greatest Generation and he served in the Army “with distinction” in the Pacific theater. He rarely if ever talked about the war and his attitude, like so many of the heroes of that era, was that he did what he had to do to serve our country at a time of need against the evil and inhumanity of the Japs and Germans. My parents would never buy a Japanese car out of principle throughout the rest of their lives — and out of respect for them, I never will either.
He was a serial entrepreneur in his working career and operated an export business selling pipes, valves and industrial equipment to every corner of the globe. He was an international traveling salesman and when I was young he was gone overseas for sometimes weeks at a time.
We used to joke that this man who could barely screw in a light bulb — and as my mom used to joke, every time he put a shovel in the ground he would manage to burst a pipe — was able to explain and sell sophisticated equipment to foreigners.
We always suspected that he might really be with the CIA — an American James Bond but we could never prove it.
He loved to play golf and was a long ball hitter, but he had the yips when it came to putting. The most enjoyment he got out of golf was vicariously — watching my mom win 11 club championships.
He was strong as an ox and was a man’s man without any feminine side that I ever saw — not that there’s anything wrong with that.
He could drink anyone here under the table.
The worst beating that I ever got from him was not when I flunked French or threw the baseball bat through the neighbors bay window, but when freshman year I cheated on a test by writing the Pythagorean Formula on my wrist. Failing was permissible. Cheating unforgivable. He taught integrity.
One of my fondest memories was playing touch football in the back yard — dad and me versus my two older brothers — and he would hand off the ball to me and then level my brothers with forearm shivers as if he were Deacon Jones and I was Gale Sayers prancing into the end zone.
If only the rest of life were that fun and easy.
In my whole life I never heard him curse — even though he had an explosive temper.
I never in my whole life got out of bed earlier than he did.
He took a bath every day, not a shower.
He had a double chin and when he got angry he would jut out that square jaw and it was time to run for cover.
He always and unfailingly was first to pick up the bill when he was at a bar or table with friends. “Bill,” my mom would grouse in great annoyance, “you don’t always have to pick up the tab.” But he always did.
He never once in his life set foot in Washington and he had utter contempt for politics and politicians. The only politician I ever heard him get excited about was John McCain because of his war record.
He doted on my mom and let her rule the roost, but that no doubt explains nearly 65 years of a loving marriage. Happy wife, happy life. If we ever insulted or cursed mom he’d go into a rage and come after us with the belt in hand.
The only person I ever met in my whole life who had a better vocabulary than dad was Bill Buckley.
His favorite sports team was the 1994 Northwestern Wildcats Rose Bowl team. If you cut him he bled purple and white.
Another happy memory was sitting in the den with dad at night and watching old rerun episodes of “The Honeymooners” — the greatest TV show ever. We would both fall to the ground howling in laughter when Jackie Gleason said things like: “You’re going to the moon Alice — bang, zoom.” How politically incorrect was that?
He never once that I remember said “I love you.” But he never had to.
• Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
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