January 5th is a day that I never forget. It is my Dad’s birthday. Twenty years ago, I was leaving with my family to return to Portugal. Dad and Mom were at the door of their house waving goodbye. Little did we know that this would be the last time, we would see Dad. He would die later that year at eighty-seven years of age.
We don’t choose our Dad, but I am thankful for the Dad that God gave to me, because Dad was a very unique person. His uniqueness was seen in many different ways. Those who knew my Dad would say something to the effect: “There is only one Art Booth.”
Dad worked two jobs for most of his life and he didn’t really retire until he was eighty-four years old (three years before his death.) He made sure that we as a family had everything we needed including a mother who could stay at home with the children. Through all those years, I never heard Dad complain about working and taking care of us.
Dad may have been busy with work, but he had time to take me to all of my Highland Park Chargers Little League Football games. He also would take me to Ford Field and hit baseballs to me. I can never forget the many times we went to see the Detroit Tigers play. He especially liked to take us to the giveaway days, like Free Bat Day or Free Ball Day.
Dad also was never too busy to make us his “famous” pancakes on Sunday morning. I still remember the taste of his pancakes with Log Cabin syrup poured over them. Dad also on occasion would make popcorn. He didn’t believe in Jiffy Pop or a popcorn popper. He made his popcorn in a saucepan. After finishing one batch, he would pour the contents on the kitchen table and we would fill our bowls. This was a real treat.
Dad specialized in doing the little things that made others happy. One year for Christmas, Dad looked all over Detroit for a football game that I wanted. Later in life, when Sharon and I would come to the house, he always made sure there was Dr. Pepper in the fridge for Sharon. Our daughter loved strawberries. Dad made sure that there were fresh strawberries in the fridge. He showed his love with deeds of kindness.
When I was studying in Seminary, Dad went to the trouble of buying me a 1970 Plymouth Fury III. He drove it all the way down to Chattanooga, TN and then flew back to Detroit. When the car was totaled (no fault of my own), he once again came down to Chattanooga with another big car. This time it was a baby blue 1972 Chrysler Newport with a white vinyl top. As you can tell, Dad loved big cars.
Our yearly family vacation with Dad was a great adventure. Dad treated our vacations like “The Amazing Race.” Dad would choose a destination and we would drive long distances each day to get to our destination. After seeing what we came to see, Dad would say “It’s time to go.” I think we might have spent two hours at the Grand Canyon. For Dad, it wasn’t the destination, it was the driving to get there. Dad loved to drive. Because of all those trips, Dad gave Wayne (my brother) and me a love for travel to this day.
Dad never was one to talk a lot about himself. He was a man of action who kept moving and kept busy. If he wasn’t busy, he was napping or watching Big Time Wrestling. I did learn a few things about him. He ran track in high school, and he almost made the 1924 Olympic track team. He managed an A&P for awhile. He also knew and worked for Garwood of the racing boat fame. However, I never really knew my Dad. I should have asked questions about his life, instead of living in my own world. I missed out in learning some important family history as well as the history of the early days of Highland Park. Dad spent about sixty years in Highland Park (1916?-1977), but I wasn’t interested to hear about this history until recently. Now, it is too late.
Dad never sat me down and had a deep conversation, but I did learn a lot of lessons by watching him. He taught me the importance of never getting into debt, as well as the need to work hard. I also learned generosity towards others. He also taught me that if something needs to be fixed, duct tape is the answer.
Was my Dad a perfect dad? Of course not, but he loved his family. He provided everything
we needed. He also would go out of his way to meet many of our wants. He also encouraged me to go out and fulfill my goals. The Bible says: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) God’s plan for my life was to make Arthur Booth my father. I thank God for the Dad that he gave me. Dad is greatly by all those who knew him. He was one of kind!