“At Ease, At Ease…”

“At ease, at ease…” These words run through my mind anytime sound decibels begin to rise. My dad, the military man, had all these phrases he would bark at us kids. “Get with the program” “At ease, at ease” “Grab it and growl” these were a few of his favorites and the ones he used most often with us.

Every night Dad came home from ‘work’ and grabbed the Old Crow out from under the kitchen-sink cabinet. He filled a tumbler with a couple of ice cubes, a wee bit of coca cola, and then topped it off with Old Crow. Why anyone would want to drink or put anything in their mouth called Old Crow is beyond me. Afterwards, he headed straight to the couch in the family room to ‘rest his eyes.’

The couch wasn’t long enough for him so his socked feet hung off the end. It was actually a 1950’s sectional – very low to the ground, about three quarters of the length of a regular sized couch, with one side open so you could push the two pieces together and make a really long couch; or you could run them perpendicular to one another for a modern look. Dad liked modern.

The couch was upholstered with a neutral taupe textured fabric; it was, until mom had it re-upholstered with a yellow and orange pinstriped print.  Mom hated the couch. She thought it odd. Dad loved it. It was comfortable and modern and his feet could dangle.

Finally, the two of them reached a compromise about the couch…one section went to the dump…the other, the yellow and orange pinstriped section, stayed in the family room until Dad died; then it went to the dump too.

Growing up we kids never did much with Dad unless it could be done while he was lying on the couch – playing ‘up on knees or traps’ was pretty much the extent of that. But one of the few things we did do with him was go to the local dump. Scavenging around in all that wonderful stuff was like heaven! Thrift stores don’t hold a candle to an old fashioned dump.

There must have been two different types of dumps, because this one didn’t smell at all. There were just mounds of great stuff to look through. I guess Dad liked stuff being that he was the purchasing agent for the military base. He ordered stuff, amassed stuff, and sold stuff all his life.

Because of his propensity for stuff, we had really odd play items. Things like airplane tire inner tubes to use as mini trampolines. Loads of fun, until you forgot to turn the tire with the valve stem faced downward. Ouch, put it mildly.

Another fun item was the very large heavy metal cow trough we used as our summer swimming pool. The pool was refreshing for the first couple of days; but after that, the water became pretty disgusting.

Toward the end of its stay at our house, the trough remained tilted on its side under the deck. We turned it into a spaceship to play ‘Lost in Space.’ When our family moved for the last time, the trough was sold.

Of all the odd items we had, the large roll of brown paper had to be my favorite. You could do anything with that stuff – color, cut, draw, paste, mold, hang, cover, wrap. Your imagination was limitless.

Today, I’m the proud owner of a commercial sized roll of brown paper. We’ve had it for years and use it for everything. It’s highly recommend for everyone.

After dad quite drinking, he became hooked on ice crème and candy; and he didn’t like to share them. In fact, several months after he had died, I came across his stash of Butterfingers hidden in the cedar chest. That was such a sweet find! Or so I thought. Dad would have the last laugh…never eat a Butterfinger stored in a cedar chest for any length of time!

This time of year always makes me think of him. Dad died on Halloween – an interesting day to have died. After all us kids were grown, he would sit in the house, in the dark on Halloween hoping that no one would ring the bell, because if they did, he would have to answer the door. And if he answered the door, he would have to share the Halloween candy with the trick or treaters.

At ease, Dad…your candy is safe.


My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Proverbs 24:13

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