My Life-Long Quest for my World War II Airman Father

The title "Carrying Fire" is taken from Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men, in which Sheriff Ed Tom Bell talks about his own father. “I had two dreams about him after he died. I don’t remember the first one all that well. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothing. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen that he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Early Years

My father was born September 3, 1917, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was the youngest of 13 children, all of whom lived into adulthood. He was also the seventh son, which has particular significance in folklore and music. And he was the first to die when he lost his life during WWII.  Most of the family moved to Southern California in the mid-1920's so he grew up as a California boy, fond of the beaches, parks, and basketball courts, and girls, of course.  The family lived in several places around the Los Angeles area; Venice, Mar Vista, Huntington Park. and LA itself.

Today it's hard to imagine the Los Angeles of the 1920's and 30's, with lots of open space, clean uncrowded neighborhoods, and no freeways. Sometimes you see it in old movies such as Laurel and Hardy, the Keystone Kops, and others that used the streets of LA to make films. 

As the youngest of 13 children my father was often spoiled by his older sister and was his mother's favorite. So he grew up feeling confident and secure and developed an outgoing personality. His mother was quite musical and taught the whole family to sing, play instruments, and appreciate music. By the time he was a teenager he often sang in quartets with brothers and sisters in four-part harmony. He graduated from University High School in west LA in 1936.

To read about what role this has played in my life, I describe this topic in detail here.

California Teenager (center)

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