Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Father

It is Father's Day and Randy Seaver, in his Genea-Musings blog, had a good suggestion that we write about our fathers today.  I think my first memories of my dad were when I was about five years old.  My dad had played two years for the Detroit Lions as a center on offense and linebacker on defense.  He was probably about average size then at about 210 pounds; but today would be undersized by about 80 to 90  pounds!  I have his contract and he made $100 per game.  Even though $100 was a lot of money in those days, the players still needed to have another job in the off season.  

My Dad's Contract and Photo
(It is nicely framed and at least two grandchildren have put in claims for it!)

When I was about five my father was coaching and teaching High School in Lamar, Colorado.  I recall going with him to the gymnasium where I had access to every type of ball available--football, basketball, volleyball, and softballs.  Even at that age I had an interest in sports and having that type of access certainly reinforced my fascination.  

When WW II broke out, my dad went in to the Navy under the V-5 program, which allowed men with a college degree to receive about 3 months training and then they were commissioned an Ensign.  That is how the term "90 day wonders" came into being.  I later ended up spending 24 years in the Navy and I definitely had a positive leaning toward the Navy because of my dad's service time.

My parents separated when I was about 10; but my dad stayed in the small town where my brother and I lived with our mom.  My dad was always good about driving by our home whenever he could, hoping that my brother or I would see him and come out to chat or go for an ice cream.  Neither he nor my mother ever remarried and my dad always worked to stay a part of the lives of my brother and I.  
Delbert B. Ritchhart
circa 1936

Delbert B. Ritchhart
circa 1942

My dad battled alcoholism for several years; but starting my senior year in high school he stayed sober for about 15 years.  While I was in college at the University of Colorado he worked at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver running their Youth Recreation Program.  He later retired from that position and stayed in the Denver area.  

Unfortunately, he had a relapse which, ultimately, let to his death at the relatively young age of 71.  Despite the many ups and downs of my father's life, my memories of him are very positive.

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