This is my Dad in the Texaco hat and Ron Fralix (my sisters’ long time boyfriend in junior high and high school). Ron went on a few trips with us. Up until us taking him on trips, Ron declared he had never been out of his neighborhood. He was so excited. This trip was to Lake Ouachita. We often went to an island called, “Hanky Panky Island” and camped on this lake.
At the time my dad was bringing his girlfriend, Joella. Joella was bringing her sons and daughters and I had a huge crush on one of her daughters. I can’t recall her name anymore, but my sister recently told me her name and now I have forgotten again. She was far too old for me, but I spent this trip trying to find a way to get with that, even though she brought a boyfriend and I had no idea what, “get with that” meant. I must have been very annoying to her, because I recall being very relentless.
One night my dad, Ron and I were up late. Ron was the big fish in a little pond at school and was the best pitcher and hitter of the baseball team, the quarterback of the football team and the track star. That night, Ron pick up a big dead stick and my dad said, “I bet you a hundred dollars you can’t swing that stick and break it on that tree”. My dad was a keen and chronic gambler. Ron was so excited to win a hundred dollars. Ron agreed, even though he didn’t have a hundred dollars. Ron took the stick, swung it and broke it over the tree. My dad quickly found another stick and said, double or nothing. This went on a few more rounds until Ron was up to sixteen hundred dollars. My dad continued finding sticks and continued the betting with double or nothing. Ron kept agreeing. Ron took the stick and swung as if his life depended on it and it didn’t break. He was back to zero. He was so crushed. My dad would have paid, but also my dad wasn’t going to lose, so he wouldn’t have to pay.
One of the last days I spent with my dad, I was fifteen. We were playing pool at his house for the standard one hundred bucks a game. I was getting pretty good and was up seven hundred dollars. My dad was not a gracious loser and I was pouring it on and really rubbing it in his face. He snapped and took a swing at me with the pool stick. He missed and we went at it. He was still a better fighter than me and quickly got me to the ground with his knees pinning down my shoulders. He taunted me and constantly poked me real hard in the chest.
My dad and I had a very tumultuous relationship in my teen years. Before this pool game, we hadn’t talked in six months. He told me he would not talk to me until I cut my hair. For six months neither of us caved. Finally one day I was tired of not talking and I stopped by my dad’s barber after school and asked him to cut my hair. Then I rode my bike to the country club that was nearby and found my dad in the gambling room. I showed him my haircut and we made amends.
The pool game was shortly after us making amends. Soon after that, he died. My dad and I battled a lot, but there was a lot of love there.
A side note pertaining to this photo: The gold chain my dad is wearing, I bought in the estate auction, along with a matching gold nugget ring. When I moved to Dallas I was wearing them. When going into heavy metal clubs, I would take them off and put them in the middle console of my truck. One night someone broke in to my truck and stole them. I spent months combing the pawn shops in Dallas for them. Of course, I never found them. I was crushed to lose them. One of the few things I had of his. I think about the only things I have left of his are his last wallet, with it’s contents and a door knocker with my last name on it.