For My Parents’ Anniversary – More Writing From Don Becker

Today is my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary. To celebrate I post this piece that my dad wrote some time before he passed away. I remember hearing this sweet story many times growing up and never really appreciated it. Now, I share this wonderful tale with the whole internet in celebration of my mom and dad.

How We Met

There are many unusual stories of how couples meet and became lifelong partners. Some are as romantic as glances from across a crowded room, or a chance encounter at the market, a friend’s party, a blind date, or the girl next door. What sets off events that allow our paths to cross and become connected?  Could it be providence or just part of life’s many twists and turns?  Well, whatever you might want to believe two youngsters met on the playground with no idea of what life had in mind for them, they were more interested in the next Kick the Can game and all that summer has to offer kids in 1958 mid-America.

It was the summer of 1958, in a small trailer park on a small Air Force Base on the edge of Madison, Wisconsin. These were days before video games, Internet, and HDTV. The first thing a kid did was hit the door to go outside and play.  Adventures were in the imagination of those who were there to play. Many hours of building forts, rafts, and exploring the vast reaches of the base.

mom and dad 1That summer a girl arrived around late June to stay with her mother at the trailer park. Kids did not spend much time analyzing why she just visited her mother in the summer and did not live with her all the time. All we knew was that she was here that there was another member of the trailer park with which to play games and have fun. Donnie as he was called in that time of his life, met Jeanie for the first time that summer.  They became good friends as best as a boy and girl of 11 and 10 could and not receive much rebuff from their peers (of course, there was some teasing from all concerned). Donnie and Jeanie would go to the movies, which cost a quarter but Donnie would always sit in the row just behind Jeanie, it is easier to throw popcorn at her from that vantage point. Then at the end of the summer Jeanie would have to go back to her home with her Dad in Florida. There was always a party, which was great with cake and ice cream.

The summer visits went on for about three years, and the friendship grew, but in 1960 Jeanie’s mother and stepfather were transferred to Alaska.  This ended the visits and the two would not meet again until 1965. As it is with most long distance relationships the letter writing slowly diminished to none at all. As the demands of high school and growing up there seemed little time to write. The letters finally stopped and both Donnie and Jeanie went on to their respective high school experiences. Donnie’s dad left for a remote assignment in Greenland for a year and retired from the service and the family moved to Milwaukee.

Then the spring of 1965 a graduation announcement arrived from Barbara Jean Quigley, who was proud to announce her graduation from Lakeview High School, in Winter Garden, Florida, in June of 1965. Well this did stir the memories of Donnie, so he sent Jeanie an orchid for her to wear to her graduation ceremonies. At first Jeanie thought this came from her stepfather who happens to have the same first name. You see Donnie being a high school grad himself signed all his correspondence as Don, for Donnie was his childhood name and the name his mother always called him. When Jeanie realized it was Donnie who sent the flower the correspondence started up again.

Jeanie wanted to spend sometime with her mother after graduation and as all young people wish to do is to leave the little town where she was born and raised and see some other part of the country, so she moved to live with her mother and stepfather in Newburgh, New York. She decided she wanted something else besides what Winter Garden had to offer in 1965.

As the letter writing continued, Don felt a great desire to meet Jeanie again and visit old times, talk about stuff young people talk about and just to see if they had some of the same interests. Well, Don still had strong traditional values even during the 60’s.  So, in August of 1965, the week of the Wisconsin State Fair, which Don’s dad worked for, and only lived a few minutes from the fairgrounds, invited Jeanie to come and stay a week with Don at his parent’s home in Wisconsin. Jeanie finally agreed after some negotiations with her mother. Then Don sent her an airline ticket from New York to Milwaukee.  This was the first time they had met since the end of the summer of 1960. It was a wonderful experience for both of them that week.  It was near the end of this week that Donnie first expressed his love for Jeanie. At the end of the week Jeanie returned to Newburgh, New York, with plenty of things to ponder.

Well, as the curses of world events intruded on any hope of normalcy when Don was informed that it would most likely be the late fall of 1965 when his number would come up and he would most likely be drafted into the US Army. He had already taken is pre-draft physical and was declared fit for duty. Well, Don being a military brat, knew well the difference between the Army and Air Force from which his father had retired.  So two choices were most obvious, first, leave for Canada, or enlist in the Air Force and possibly pick career training. The decision was to enlist in the advanced enlistment program so that he could not be drafted in to Army. He was committed to four years of service and was scheduled to report for Basic Military Training in Jan 10, 1966.

Don needed to see Jeanie at least one more time before he left so he flew out to Newburgh, New York. They spent another week together at her mother and stepfather’s home. There among the beautiful fall colors of the West Point area of New York their relationship grew even more. But the week went by so quickly and Don returned to Milwaukee to work until his enlistment date arrived. The letters flowed back and forth and a few phone calls, but this was in the day when long distance services were very expensive and there was no such thing as e-mail.

Off to the war – on January 10th, 1966 Don left Milwaukee for Lackland, Air Force Base to begin his basic training and then to technical school to learn a skill that the Air Force needed. His parents were there to send their son off to the same branch of the military his dad had served for twenty years.  It was just before boarding began, that Don’s father gave him a brand new two dollar bill and said, “as long has you have this two dollar bill, you will never be broke.” Don has never been broke, for he still has that same two-dollar bill today.

It was at Chanute, Air Force Base in Illinois during a break in the day’s training events that Don called Jeanie from a phone booth and asked her if she would marry him. The conversation was not very long for the pile of quarters did not last long with those long distance phone calls from pay phones. Jeanie said yes.3922_1128007049564_1471157_n

The wedding plans were simple and low budget for two kids with both sets of parents with little money for lavish weddings.  Donnie and Jeanie were married on July 16, 1966; five days after Don had finished his technical training and four days after his 20th birthday. The reception was held in Don’s parent’s basement, and they spent their honeymoon on the way to Don’s first assignment at MacDill, AFB, Tampa, Florida. They had to find a place to live all in two weeks from the day he left Chanute. All that they owned was packed in a 1963 Corvair and off they went. A boy that was closer to 19 years old than 20 and an 18-year-old girl set out to see what life had to offer.

That was [47] years, two children, [two] grand[daughters], three dogs, two homes, numerous rentals ago. What happened during this journey is another story, but the fact that it happened and continues is remarkable.  So is fate, devine appointments, or just a chance meeting between two people that they find themselves and that they found happiness.


Some of My Dad’s Writings on his Birthday

The Becker Boys
The Becker Boys

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 67. A little while ago my mom let my and I know that she still had some of his writings saved on the computer. We were pleasantly surprised to hear of this bit of information and she sent us each a thumb drive with what she had. I decided that I would post some of what he had to say here on my blog and in honor of his birthday I am posting his birth story along with some family history.

Happy birthday, pops. I miss you.

The Things My Mother Told Me

It is said and I do find this true, as with any journey the most difficult is the first step or the beginning.  I have found this very true, even with something which I feel might be interesting to those who might want to hear my story.  So, as I try to pull the memories from their storage places and set them to print the complete accuracy of them is only to my reflection and recollection. I am sure that the time spent at this labor will most likely be more rewarding to me than the reader.

I would begin at the basic information which may or may not be known to those of you who know me, I was born on July 12, 1946, which I am sure was a warm day in Bradenton, Florida at the little Manatee Community Hospital at 4:30 in the afternoon.  It was told by my mother that … at the time, the first reaction from the hospital staff was that my mother wasn’t pregnant. But she did deliver the proof that she was, especially at 4:30.  I was just a little over five pounds [and] was considered rather small. My first crib was a dresser drawer and by my diapers were my father’s handkerchiefs.

It was and still is for the most part that parents naming a male child after the father was reserved for the first-born male. For our family this tradition did not apply.  My older brother was named Steven.  I am not sure why this was; maybe by dad decided he did not want to have a child named after him.  So, when I arrived the name selection began again, but when they first saw me my mother noticed that I was a little duplicate of my father so they named my Don.  Usually, Don is only a nickname or the shortened version of Donald. My dad did not want a Junior, he was afraid that, like many families, I would be stuck with Junior as a name. So, to solve this he decided that I would be called Don Irving Becker. Irving was his father’s name.

So begins the journey of Don Irving Becker, son of Donald Irving  and Mildred Mardean Becker, brother of Steven Allen Becker and Gary Paul Becker.  Grandson of Irving  and Lillian Becker and George and Kathryn Eyer. The Becker grandparents resided in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan Wisconsin and are of German Ancestry, while the Eyers lived in the south part of Indiana in a small town of Oakland City.  I do not, unfortunately, have any recollection of my grandfather Eyer who I understand died shortly after I was born.  I was told that he was an accomplished cornet player and did, at one time, play for the Indianapolis Philomophic Orchestra. I believe he died from a long battle with cancer. Now, I do recall many visit with my grandmother Eyer and the Becker grandparents, for it was an annual family vacation to visit each of the grandparents.

My father was a Hotel Clerk in Bradenton, Florida after he was discharged from the Army Air Corp at the close of World War II.  For some reason this did not provide what he and mom needed to live so he re-enlisted into the United States Air Force, the name did change from the Army Air Corp around that time. He then became a carrier Airman. Now for the next twenty years he would serve his country during several times of conflict and unrest. He began with World War II, and then was serving during the Korean Conflict, and he finally finished his career when he retired as the Vietnam Conflict was just beginning.


Well, lest I bore anyone I’ll end it there. #CLIFFHANGER (And yes, I did just use a hashtag. My blog. My rules!) I will go through more of my dad’s stuff and post some more at some later date.

Daddy-Daughter Dilemmas

readingI love reading to my daughters. For the last couple of years my wife and I have been reading Young Adult novels with/to our oldest, the Elder Extroverted One, who is a mature ten year old. It blew up after she tackled the Harry Potter series. For awhile it was difficult to get her to read anything that wasn’t Harry Potter but she reluctantly allowed us to help her branch out a bit with the help of the list of fine girl-empowering books from A Mighty Girl. The Elder Extroverted One enjoyed The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (I did, too. But I’m a fan of his anyway). I have read The Hunger Games and figured that she could handle it so I read it to her while she read it to herself. Then she gobbled up Catching Fire after I read it first. These last two books have more violence than anything else that I was worried that she would not be quite ready to deal with those situations.

The thing with all of these books so far is that I have read them first and then deemed them to be okay for her to read. At the moment we are reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. Which is a fine book, by the way, it’s just that I haven’t read it before allowing it to be read to/by the Elder Extroverted One. The other night as I was reading to her it was getting into the budding relationship between [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] (no spoilers here, folks). As I was reading one particular rendezvous between the unnamed two it got a little heated up. So much so, I felt that I had to stop and skim ahead because I wasn’t sure how far it would escalate and if I wanted to be reading it out loud to my ten year old daughter.

As parents, my wife and I are forthcoming about the birds and the bees with our daughters. More my wife than me but mostly because I’m a dumb, stinky boy and don’t feel qualified to scientifically discuss such things (I may have just turned forty but I have a mental age of twelve). So, I’m not too worried about the sexy stuff in books. But, as a ten year old, she may not emotionally be ready to deal with the not-so-scientific way of these kinds of relationships. Plus, it’s just kind of weird reading that out loud AND to my daughter. Hell, I think it would be weird to read the kinds of books they read over on Vaginal Fantasies out loud to my wife.

So, this may be just my own hang up that I have to deal with but wonder what other fathers do as they continue to read with/to their daughters as the daughters grow in age and reading level.

I can’t wait for the day the Elder Extroverted One will just read all of her books to herself. Which would leave me to read my own books or watch TV…probably TV.

I Am Disappoint

*nerd alert* Last night as I was reading a comic book to the Extroverted Ones the Elder Extroverted One decided to tell me that she likes Superman more than she likes Batman. This was a serious blow to me. I am a Batman guy and have been since my early teens. I dig mostly comic book Batman but I do enjoy other incarnations of the Dark Knight as well. Well, this declaration from my eldest daughter was like a dagger to my heart. I had no idea she felt this way. Under my own roof! It, certainly, evoked feelings of disowning her. To me, Superman is too easy. He’s good at everything and vulnerable to very few things. Boring. Batman on the other hand doesn’t have super powers and must use his brains, his body and huge amounts of wealth to become a super hero. That and dead parents. All Superman had to do was show up under our yellow sun and he’s set.

Ace the Bat-houndAs we continued to read the Elder Extroverted One says, “I like Ace.” You know . . . the Bat-hound? As in Batman’s dog. I respond by saying, “Wait. You’re telling me that you like Ace but not Batman?” It doesn’t make sense to me. But I have to love her no matter what and we will make it through this hardship. Imagine, her rebelling at age ten. I’m not sure I want to see what she rebels against when she’s older. Next thing she’ll tell me is that she likes Marvel more than DC! I shudder at the thought.

Motivation . . . or Lack Thereof

Has anyone seen my motivation? And not just a specific motivation to write here, but to do the laundry or clean the house. I seem to have lost motivation for general life. I would like to just sit here in front of the computer and look at cat pictures, read twitter or just sack out on the couch and watch TV shows or movies. What’s up with that? Is it my depression rearing its ugly head again? Damn, I hope not.

beer belly by fuzzirella / © All rights reserved
beer belly by fuzzirella / © All rights reserved

There was a time that I had a decent run (pun inteneded) when I had cut down on drinking of the beers and was actually running(?). I know, right? My joke to people who ran was always, “Were you being chased?” But besides that, though, I’m not sure I did anything else productive. I’m a stay at home dad (who actually needs a part time job…anyone?) fer Pete’s sake! When the older is at school and the younger one is at pre-school I should be doing stuff, right? Not only my Domestic Goddessly duties but something creative with my time. Alas, the motivation to do so is not there. I feel like a failure in the Stay at Home Dad area. Unless, the job description is to be a slug and get stuff done only when there is a dire need for clean clothes or someone is coming over to the house. In that case, NAILED IT.

All right, I’m going to go look under the couch cushions for this motivation . . . [C’MON BRAIN! NOT. HELPING.]

Hello world! Again…

Well, here is the Tales of an Introvert: The Reboot. I have not blogged any blogginess in many a year and have let me original URL go the way of the Dodo bird. I could have gotten it back from Go Daddy for $280 or so but decided that was not a wise thing to do at the moment. So, I did the next best thing and got Dot net is still cool, right?

Along with the new URL I’ve decided to try to self-host my blog. Mostly to see what kind of damage I can do with the nuts and bolts of this internet site. Should be fun. Or not. Whatever. I also wanted to get back into some sort of writing. Not sure what but I’m sure it will entertain no one but me and that’s okay.

We shall see . . .

My Adventures at the Southern Brewer’s Festival

The Southern Brewer’s Festival occurred in August of 2009. In keeping with my lazy characteristic I didn’t write this recollection up until several months later. I sent it to the fine gentlemen over at Beer School Blog to be posted at their site but they must be really busy and haven’t gotten around to checking their email. Anyway, I decided to post it here and maybe it would be read by some person(s) who might happen by this most neglected site.

The day began with a couple of friends and me warming up for the brewer’s festival at the Terminal Brewhouse. While there I must always start with the famed Southsidenstein Stout (the Terminal’s oatmeal stout) followed by a Terminally Ale (their American pale ale). After sufficient, known commodity craft brews we were headed downtown. First to check in to our hotel (safety first, kids!) and a short walk down Chestnut Street to Chattanooga’s Downtown Riverfront park for the 15th Annual Southern Brewer’s Festival.

This is my second year attending this festival hosted by Chattanooga Kids on the Block (all proceeds went to this group) and the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Inc. This year seemed significantly more popular than last year’s event because the place was crowded way earlier than the year before. We, unfortunately, arrived too late and we missed the Krystal Square Off eating contest. Apparently, some guy won the qualifier.

When approaching a brewer’s festival one has to be slightly methodical about it. As much as I’d love to walk down the row of brewers with cup held out for them to pour their fine wares into my vessel that’s just asking for trouble. I have my favorites that I drink all of the time (Highland Brewing Company’s Gaelic Ale if anyone would like to know) but unless they are offering something new at the festival I tend to avoid breweries that I can get at the grocery store and drink on a regular basis. With that said, according to the scrawl in my moleskine beer journal, I brought forth my commemorative mug to six brewers in order to taste their fine offerings.

The first brewery that I tried was Yazoo Brewing Company from Nashville, TN. I had to revisit this fine brewery’s booth because I have yet to find it here in Chattanooga and I miss it so. When I arrived I asked the fine Yazoo representative about the latest offering from them, “‘Sue’, a deliciously smoked porter brewed with cherry-wood smoked malts.” (from their blog). But due to the high alcohol content of this fine mistress I was not able to introduce myself to Sue. Instead, I had a Dos Perros. Which is their interpretation of a Mexican beer style and was as good as I had remembered it. Like, seeing an old friend and clicking together like you’d never been apart.

My next craft brew choice was a brave one. Last year I tried a brew from the Barley Mob Brewers of Chattanooga and it was a horrible experience. Not only was it the worst beer I’ve ever had, I poured it out (and I don’t pour out beer!). However, this time  decided to give them another try and got the Cascade Pale Ale. And wouldn’t you know it? They have redeemed themselves with a decent pale ale. And by decent I mean I didn’t pour it out.

For the third taste test I decided to take a trip down south on A1A and had the Red Brick Ale from A1A Ale Works, a Gordon Biersch brewery out of St. Augustine, Florida. This typical red ale was just that: typical. Nothing too special about it in my opinion. Not bad but also not memorable. Which is pretty much what I think of most of the beers out of the Gordon Biersch conglomeration of breweries/restaurants.

My fourth choice of suds came from Starr Hill Brewery. I decided to stop by this booth because I have never heard of this brewery out of Charlottesville, Virginia. I decided on trying The Festie. The Festie is their interpretation of an Oktoberfest lager. I must say, “Yay” for the Festie. It reawakened my taste buds after a couple of lack luster brews. I am excited to try their other wares. I just need to find them somewhere!

Next on the list of beers that I tried was the Motorboat from the fine folks of Sweetwater Brewing Company. The Motorboat is their fine interpretation of an ESB. This one was, and still is, one of my favorites from this day of beer tasting.

For the final tasting of the day (because at this point I could barely write whatever I was drinking in my beer notebook) was New Belgium Brewing’s Hoptober. It’s a very nice golden ale with five different hop varieties. I continue to return to this seasonal every time I stand and look at the beer selection that my local grocery store offers. When the Hoptober season is over I will be one distraught beer drinker.

The Southern Brewer’s Fest is a fine gathering of the crafters of the beverage we all like to call home. The only complaint I have about it is the lack of water to rinse out our commemorative sampler mug. Every other craft beer festival has offered this and, to me, proves that these festival’s are hosted by professionals. Come on SBF! Get it together! Besides that one complaint it’s a fine festival at a great location along the river here in Chattanooga.

“…one bad-ass [effing] fractal.”

I must admit that I am no good at math. I look at mathematical equations and I might as well be looking at a blank piece of paper. Me + Math = No Good. I was, actually, no good in school in general. All the more reason to highly encourage my children to do a whole heck of a lot better than I did. On top of that, with having two daughters I want to make sure that if they have any interest in the math or sciences that I will bend over backwards to make sure that they have the encouragement they need to excel (here and here are articles about girls and science & math). Even if I’m no good at either of them.

Lately, we have been listening to a play list that I have named “Geek Rock?” on the mp3 player in the car. On that list I have some They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, Leonard Nimoy singing “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton. Some tunes may not be appropriate for the kids but I don’t focus too much on that and The Elder Extroverted One seems to be alright with it. We discuss words you shouldn’t say and move on. Well, one song in particular has caught the EEO’s attention and has gotten stuck in her head. Which has led to some mathematical explorations in which I am in no way equipped to guide her. So, we are just exploring it together and we’ll find out where it leads us. The particular song is Jonathan Coulton’s “Mandelbrot Set”.

The other night as I was hanging out with the Elder Extroverted One during the night-time routine (stories, backrubs etc.) and she blurts out a line from the song, “Mandelbrot’s in heaven, at least he will be when he’s dead” and says that the song is stuck in her head. So, that led us to Wikipedia for a search on what exactly, if anything, a Mandelbrot Set is and whether it exists. Turns out it is real and it is very mathematical like. From wikipedia:

In mathematics the Mandelbrot set, named after Benoît Mandelbrot, is a set of points in the complex plane, the boundary of which forms a fractal. Mathematically the Mandelbrot set can be defined as the set of complex values of c for which the orbit of 0 under iteration of the complex quadratic polynomial zn+1zn2c remains bounded.[1] That is, a complex number, c, is in the Mandelbrot set if, when starting with z0 = 0 and applying the iteration repeatedly, the absolute value of zn never exceeds a certain number (that number depends on c) however large n gets.

Um…er…okay? Hey wait! I know fractals! Those are cool patterns and stuff! The Elder Extroverted One really enjoyed the examples of fractals. Which led us down another trail of different examples of fractals and we found a fractal based on the Julia Set! How awesome is that? Here’s an example:

Mathematics is COOL! Especially if it has your name in it!

The EEO’s favorite quote from the wikipedia entry is, “Thus the behavior of the function on the Fatou set is ‘regular’, while on the Julia set its behavior is ‘chaotic‘.” Oh yeah, she can be chaotic and in no way regular.

This exploration into fractals and mathematics will hopefully instill a joy and curiosity of math and sciences that will last a lifetime and it was all brought about by the wonderful geeky music of Sir Jonathan Coulton. Wait, what? He hasn’t been knighted? Well, he should be dagnabit!

My new mission is to learn as much as I can about this and try to find this fractal on a t-shirt for the Elder Extroverted One to proudly wear and proclaim her geekiness!

When Worlds Collide

Rarely do certain areas of my geekiness come into contact with each other. But, luckily I can drink beer with the majority of my geeky pursuits. Beer and comics? Done! Beer and movies? No brainer! Beer and cooking? Uh…duh! But beer melding with one of my earliest memories of going to the movies and being enveloped by a whole new experience (and quite possibly was responsible for my love of movies and science fiction) is something to behold. Today my geeky Star Wars world and my Beer Geek world collided when I saw this tweet from nerd news blogger @toplessrobot:

New England Brewing Company in Woodbridge, Connecticut is releasing a Russian imperial stout they have named Imperial Stout Trooper. According to the BeerAdvocate‘s Beer News forum it is to be released December 21. They don’t have too wide of a distribution foot print so my chances of getting my hands on this fine brew in east Tennessee aren’t good so a road trip might be in order. Hopefully, I won’t have to make the Kessel Run to find some.

What dreams are made of
Image: Imperial Stout Trooper label from New England Brewing Co. used with permission

YAY! I’m Going To Hell

Thanks, John Hagee, for your enlightening interpretation of this one verse:

8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.   1 Timothy 1:8 (NIV)

(h/t: I’m a Blogger)

Does this mean, as a stay-at-home dad, that I am not providing for my family? Just because I don’t make money I am not taking care of my kids?

As a side note, Mr. Hagee, my wife is an ordained Presbyterian(USA) minister (I’m sure you think she’s going to hell, too?) and is taking care of us monetarily while I provide for our children in different ways.

Thanks and God bless.