Daddy's garden produced great times, lessons

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Sports Talk

By Robert Howey


Say “the garden” to me or my brothers, Jimbo and Bill, and one thought comes to mind.

That’s a patch of fertile ground located off West Springs Street across from our old Normandy Road home.

“The garden” holds some special memories for me, and when I reflect on it, my father, the late Jim Howey, quickly comes to mind. Though he’s been gone some 35 years, I think of him often and especially today, Father’s Day.

He was an attorney by vocation, but “the garden” was his hobby. Come spring, whether we lived on Normandy Road, or Sherwood Circle, he spent the better part of his spare time on that special plot of land.

Saturday was his major work day at the garden as he would work at his office during the morning and come home for a sandwich and a work clothes change before heading to “the garden.”

I think he had a garden since he was raised on an Indian Land farm.

My brother Jimbo says when Daddy came home from work on those late spring and summer Saturdays, he asked who wanted to go to the garden with him.

He noted Daddy drew few volunteers, and then he looked at him and said, “Come on Jimbo.”

I made my share of trips, too.

Before I was old enough to help with the garden, there was an interesting story about Jimbo and Bill, mere youngsters, helping Daddy plant one afternoon. He had his plan down like this – Daddy made the hole, Jimbo put the seeds in the hole and Bill covered it up. It appeared to be going well until Daddy realized Bill, instead of putting in, was taking the seed out of the hole. Thank goodness, he caught the error before he got too far with the planting.

Then, there was the time Jimbo, me and Daddy were working at the garden and Daddy and Jimbo left to run an errand. They told me to take a break.

It was a while before they returned in Daddy’s old green Studebaker truck, so I found a shade tree near the creek beside the garden on that hot afternoon. When they returned, Jimbo jumped out of the truck and told me they had a “big surprise” for me.

I knew they had gone to a farm, and I figured it was a puppy. Doggone it! I was wrong, and it didn’t take a long time to find out. The smell said it all. The truck’s bed sported a load of chicken manure, which we used to fertilize the garden.

Daddy used the garden to teach plenty of important life lessons, like commitment, pride, giving it your best no matter what you were undertaking and attention to detail.

Jimbo always said Daddy didn’t just have a garden, but a “pretty garden.” The rows were straight as an arrow and the whole area green and neat as a pin.

The wide variety of vegetables were direct pay, but you received more. Thinking back, he never noted any of those ideals, but in reflection, you have a great appreciation of what you gained at the garden. It was a lot of hard work – sweaty, dirty and sometimes smelly, but we had our share of fun, too. Few words were spoken, but plenty to profit.

“The garden” yielded plenty of good food for our table, and more important, lessons for a lifetime. Thanks Daddy.