My daddy (Antoine or “Beau”), from a photo taken when he went into the Navy in WWII. My daddy’s family is an interesting amalgamation of the American dream. Some interesting facts we’ve collected:
1. Dad was born in Oakland, CA.
2. He was the youngest of 4, all from the same mother, two different fathers. Two sisters, and a brother.
3. His sisters and brother all graduated from College in the 1930’s.
4. Dad never attended High School. He was enrolled at Redondo Union High School for two years (he and his folks had moved to Hermosa Beach around 1940 – or possibly earlier), but never went to class! My brother obtained his High School grade reports a few years back and they are all – INCOMPLETE!
5. He surfed. Apparently, that was all he did.
6. Dad met my mom in High School, they were sweethearts.
7. His mother got so frustrated with him that in 1943 when he was 16 years old, she took him down to Navy Recruiting and said “Join – or ELSE!”
8. He learned to fly in the Navy, being first a radio operator in a PB-Y (Catalina) flying boat, on Anti-submarine patrols in the Gulf of Mexico. The guys on the plane could all fly, he said, they’d let anyone fly because part of that was for safety in case the pilot or co-pilot got killed, and partly it was because those long patrols were SO BORING!
9. After his combat tour was up, he applied and was accepted to the Cadet Corp where he learned how to fly “Officially”. He was a pilot when the war ended.
10. The Navy discharged him after the war, he did some barnstorming, and various other things, married his first wife and had his first 3 children, Gary, Fred and Beverly.
11. Re-upped in the Army in about 1947-48 and applied to be in the Army Air Corp. Was accepted, continued flying for the army, and about 1950 was discharged from the army and flew for the Air Force for a couple years. He trained pilots during the Korean War.
12. Got divorced, came back to CA on weekends and started courting his High School sweetheart again (my mother) and finally convinced her to marry him. It was a 2nd marriage for both, my mother having been also married and divorced, without any children. He and my mother had two children together, myself and my sister Toni.
13. Went to work for American Airlines in 1955 – the “Dawn of the Jet Age”. The Airlines were hiring anyone who had multi-engine experience.
14. Dad eventually worked for AA for almost 32 years, retiring in 1986 as a Captain.
15. I asked him on the night of his retirement party if he would miss it? He thought about it for a moment and then said: “If you knew what it felt like to sit in the pilot’s seat of a DC-10 and push those throttles forward and have more thrust behind you than a Battleship…” at which point I simply interrupted him and said “You’re going to miss it.”
16. By then, he had married his 3rd wife, and had my two younger sisters, Simmone and Dominique.
17. To my knowledge, he never flew a plane again after his “Forced” retirement at age 60 from American Airlines.
18. He contracted Emphysema in about 1993 from smoking all those years (he likely started at about the age of 12).
19. He passed away in 2000 at age 73. I was asked to give the Memorial Service for my daddy, and I was honored to do so. HIs ashes were scattered at sea, on a stormy day in the Winter, out of Newport Harbor.
20. I miss him still.