Early memories of Dad
My first hero was Dad. Before I was school age, Dad let me ride with him once in a while as he drove the Greyhound bus on his routes from Phoenix to towns around Arizona. Many times we’d travel to Ajo and take a break at the Barq’s Bottling Plant where he’d buy us a refreshing, icy cold bottle of strawberry soda or Squirt!
Dad took me with him on his scooter when I was small to watch the trains coming in at the Phoenix depot.
Dad rescued me from the wrong school bus I had boarded after my very first day at Isaac School.
Dad taught me to release calves from the chute at Old Man Jamison’s place on 35th Avenue so he could practice his roping, and he’d let me ride with him on Red Bird, his favorite roping horse.
He taught me how to bat and catch balls. I must have been his little “tomboy” about the time my little sister was born.
Dad had a way with kids, and even taught a young neighbor boy how to wiggle his ears!
Dad taught me how to jitterbug on our back porch when I was in 8th Grade. By then, I no longer wanted to be his “tomboy,” and Dad now had time for my little sister and new baby brother.
Herbert “Dale” Edwards was born in Globe, Arizona in 1922. He lost his mother at a young age, and was raised by his father and two loving older sisters, Florence and Margie. His older brother, Elmer, helped him enjoy kid things, and proved to be a great big brother and buddy.
As kids, Dale and Elmer were playing around oar cars at Copper Hill where their Dad worked as a boiler fireman for the Iron Cap Mine. Dale stumbled and hit his chin, almost severing his tongue. Luckily, a quick ride into Globe, and some stitches saved the day, and Dad’s ability to speak and sing.
When Dad was a senior in high school, he lived with the Whitlow family in Florence, Arizona. He graduated from Florence Union High School with his buddy, Chuck Whitlow. Whitlow Dam was named after Chuck’s family. I remember Dad saying when he and Chuck were riding horses in the corral, they’d have to dodge dozens of rattlesnakes!
Dad served his country during World War II in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Dad could sing and play the guitar, just like his father and siblings. He made a few recordings, and one neighbor, Chet Long, called him “Arizona’s singing cowboy.” I think Dad’s musical talents rubbed off on my sister, who is a songwriter.
Dad was a builder, too, adding a bedroom addition to our post-war 2-bedroom home, and erected a carport and block fences. This building know-how rubbed off on my brother who is multi-talented in construction trade side jobs.
He was a “colorful” guy, with wit and a sense of humor. I’m sure he inherited it from his Dad. I remember him saying one hot August afternoon, “It’s hotter than a G** da** popcorn fart!” When he stayed with us shortly before he died, Dad liked to describe the comedic scenes of my growing family as “Two comin’, two goin’, two sh*ttin’, two mowin’.”
A girl’s image of the hero dad she once cherished came into focus when I grew up. He broke Mom’s heart several times, and eventually left her and my 16 year-old brother. I realized he had human flaws. Perhaps he experienced “mid-life crisis” as it’s sometimes called. We kids no longer had our Dad near us. Mom took over, and we were forever grateful for her loving guidance and support to see us through the rough spots the rest of her life.
One cold February day in 1985, as Dad lay dying of cancer at the Fort Whipple VA Hospital in Prescott, I remember talking with my sister at the hospital and saying that maybe he wasn’t the best or worst Dad in the world, but he was our ONLY Dad. We kids loved him, although his exit had left a huge void in our lives. Dad’s been gone 25 years now, but we still have many happy childhood memories to share with each other.
When our wonderful Mom died earlier this year, we kids prayed that there wouldn’t be any animosity between the two of them in Heaven; it’s too wonderful a place to have such feelings. I can imagine them dancing together and enjoying “the good times” again.