Father's Day is never really over. His life impacts us forever...

As a child of the 20’s and ‘30’s, without television to entertain him, my Poppa loved reading.

Nothing can limit your intelligence, as long as you have the desire to keep learning.

He devoured all the volumes of the Book of Knowledge and came to realize he loved physics. Though he wanted to be a gas process engineer, there was no money for college. To become a certified engineer he discovered you were only required to pass a test, however. He found out which books the college kids were studying, borrowed them from the library, scoured them thoroughly and took that test.  When he passed with flying colors, the proctor wondered which college he had attended and when he found he hadn't, they suspected him of cheating and ordered him to re-take the test, this time with 3 proctors standing over him to watch. He passed the test exactly as before, and they had to admit he deserved his certificate! 

His fascination with learning how things work had no bounds. Poppa was always inventing something. When I was around nine I remember him coming home from work one day excitedly, holding a small vial...

Fascinating Stuff! What IS It?

Something that looked like a solid clear liquid was clinging to one end of the bottle. He shared how he had distilled this ‘fantastic’ petroleum product that was so viscous it would take all night long to go down to the other end of the bottle. Placing it on the mantelpiece upside down, he proclaimed we would see how long it took to move. Seeing the clear solid clinging tightly to the top of the vial, I doubted if it would move at all. But by morning it had finally gone down to the bottom! He found an application for this discovery. Creating a hydraulic arm for our record player that used the liquid inside, it allowed the needle to drop slowly onto the disc, without scratching our phonograph records.


Though he couldn’t swim well, Poppa always wanted to sail a boat. He was determined to build his own 17 Ft. sail boat with a Styrofoam lining in the hull and mast, so that even if it were to capsize, it would still float and he could hold on to survive. Our garage became a workshop for years, but he never gave up working on it till it was finished.When the big moment came for it’s maiden voyage, he opened the garage door and found that he had made the boat wider than the opening and couldn’t get it out! Did that stop him? No – he just cut a hole on either side of the door frame and managed to make the opening bigger!


Poppa Couldn’t Swim Well & Built This Boat Instead!




Whatever Poppa did was with the stubborn determination to keep going until he was done. One year he needed to drive from Texas to New York on a business trip. He went all the way in his 50’s convertible - and when it was finished, drove all the way back to Texas without stopping - through a hurricane - to get home!

He arrived in the middle of the night. We were so excited to hear him open the door we woke up and ran downstairs to find him standing there, dripping wet, with a big smile on his face and a hug for each of us. I was never happier to see him. In the morning we went outside to see the remains of the convertible. The top with shreds of fabric clinging to the frame - proof of his indomitable will not to let anything stop him from getting where he wanted to go.
© Ruth Elliott, 2011

The World Steps Aside for the Person Who Knows Where They're Going!


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