It’s just not done that way
When I am frying trout or caplin, I instinctively lay them in the position that my father referred to as ‘heads and tails’ with the heads and tails facing in opposite directions.
That’s the way it was done when we lived in Branch in the 50s. Call it a bit of obsessive-compulsive behaviour if you wish, but if I saw the little rainbows or German browns or silvered-coloured caplin lying head to head, I would instinctively turn half of them around.
“You can’t fry them like that. It’s just not done that way.”
There are more situations wherein the statement, “It’s just not done that way,” flashes across my mind. I smile and mostly think of my father. Mommy wasn’t very predictable and hardly ever did things the same way. My father, however, was a different story.
After he retired from fishing — or should I say, after he started receiv- ing his old aged pension — once a week my father would walk down to the local shop on the corner to pick up the week’s supply of grub. It was always on a Saturday and it had to be around two o’clock in the afternoon.
It was useless to offer him a ride in the morning or the evening. “They always expect me to come around two o’clock of a Saturday,” he would say.
If he was preparing the vegetables for our Sunday dinner, my father always sliced the turnips. Once I chunked them instead of slicing and I immediately learned that for salt beef dinner you sliced, for stew and soup you chunked. According to John Power, that’s the way it was done.
No matter how hard my mother presented her case, there were only certain occasions when Daddy would wear his best cap and jacket (windbreaker he called it). “You can’t go down the road all dressed up in the middle of the day.” It was all right to “rag up” to go to church or to a wake or to go to a dance at the Seniors’ Club, but for run of the mill activities, your attire had to fit your station in life.
One facet of Daddy’s schedule, which was not strict, was his time for napping. He could close his eyes and sleep anytime in any environment.
I remember one cold winter’s night Mommy said, “John, why don’t you make the shavings before you fall asleep on the daybed?”
His reply: “I can’t go making shavings at seven o’clock in the evening. If people come in, what will they say?”
Shavings had to be made just before you went to bed. It had something to do with perception, the fact that visitors might think you were sending them the message that you were ready for bed and trying to get rid of them.
Ah yes, Daddy, you might have wanted to be ordinary, bringing no attention to yourself in what you did or what you wore. To me you will always be a very special man.
No matter how hard my mother presented her case, there were only certain occasions when Daddy would wear his best cap and jacket (windbreaker he called it).