On this Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about my father and wishing I knew a little bit more about certain parts of his life.
It’s not that Dad was a person of conscious mystery. It’s just that, for the most part, he was a quiet man who kept his earlier life to himself. He didn’t dominate the conversation when we sat down for dinner at night or regularly regale us with stories of his childhood in Uhrichsville and Akron or talk about his college days. As a result, there are parts of his life that are a bit of a mystery to me, and those little mysteries will probably never be solved to my satisfaction.
For example, when he was a young man Dad had the nickname Lucky Pierre. I’ve now inherited the 60-year-old caricature drawing of Dad that shows it. Mom says that when she first started dating him, she thought his real first name was Pierre, because that’s what Dad’s fraternity friends and other members of their crowd always called him. In those days, the frat guys would invite their dates over to the frat house and put on little comedy skits and shows for entertainment — something that it’s hard to imagine the father I knew doing — and in the skits he was called Lucky Pierre. He played basketball on a team with his friends and had a jersey with Lucky Pierre on it. It obviously was a moniker he liked.
These aren’t things Dad ever talked about; they are little bits and pieces of his life that I’ve heard about from others over the years. So, how did a regular guy named Jim living in Akron, Ohio come to be called Lucky Pierre? Mom doesn’t know, she says. I have a vague sense that it involved some kind of vulgar fraternity humor that twenty-something guys find hilarious — but what incident was responsible for him getting that name in the first place?
I’ll probably never know the complete answer to this question, and a bunch of other ones, too. Maybe it’s good for a man to have his little mysteries, but on this Father’s Day I wish I knew a little bit more about the back story of the Dad I knew and the course that his life took before UJ, me, Cath, Margaret, and Jean arrived on the scene. It would help to round out my understanding of this man who played such a huge and essential role in my own life.