Tomorrow, December 16, would have been my father's 90th birthday. He was born December 16, 1923. He died May 7th, 1981. A lifetime ago. Our family, and the world in general, has changed since his passing. I think he would be pleased with some changes, maybe not so pleased with others.
All that I am I owe to my father, (and mother). I've told the story many times about my father growing up in New Mexico, speaking only Spanish. On his own, he enrolled in school, learned English, graduated 9th grade at Belvedere Junior High School, in East Los Angeles, and began his work life. He served in the U.S. Army and boxed during his time there.
I never met a harder working man in my life. He grew up during the depression, so he had that attitude that an able bodied man worked, period. He was from an era that did not waste food, that you ate what was put on the table or you did not eat. You turned off the lights when you left a room. You respected your elders. No exceptions.
He became an upholsterer. That was his job all his adult life. This was in the day when furniture was made to last. He was a master craftsman at his job. He worked his way up the ranks in his local union – The Upholsterer's International Union – from shop steward to the bargaining committee and ultimately, president.
My father, as well as my aunts and uncles, took their generation from dirt floor adobes to middle class America and they did it trough hard work and no excuses. My father was and is an American success story. His generation was America's best. I'm damned proud to be his son.