He was known to many people as Mr. Looper, to others he was known as Bill Looper, to me, he was Daddy. He was a good storyteller and although I had heard many of the stories over and over, I still enjoyed them. I listened very carefully to see if he ever changed a story, but
they always seemed to ring true to form. My Dad didn't get much formal education, but I believe he was ahead of his time in many ways. For instance, he got tired of draining the
radiator on cold nights - I don't think I had ever heard of anti-freeze until some Michigan folks started spending the winter in our little village- well, my Dad just filled his radiator up with kerosene! We all thought it would blow up when the engine warmed up, but he got away
My Dad loved to hunt and fish. I think hunting was his first choice. He loved his guns. He always thought he had the finest gun in the woods. Many times when we hit the woods; I would go about trying to get some game for the family and on working my way back to the car, I would come upon my Dad talking to a stranger telling him about his extra special gun. The stranger was probably wanting to get on with his hunting, but was too polite to stop my dad's explanation of why his gun was the "best in the woods".
He got a small single-shot 22 rifle for me. I still don't understand how a gun of that type would be worn out. This one was! In order to load the rifle, you would pull the hammer back, then push a little metal block down from the opening of the barrel and insert the bullet, pull the block back up and let the hammer down. Now it was loaded. That rifle would put a bullet through a can sideways - if you did hit the can. Good rifles make a neat round hole. Also, it would split the
casing of the bullet - I took a wire ramrod along to eject the casing. This was my first gun (I wasn't very proud of it because it didn't work too well), but it was extra-special because it was given to me by my father. One day my Dad purchased a single shot 16 Ga. shotgun for me. I really began to get the squirrels with that beauty! Now maybe I had the "best gun in the woods"!
My Dad was a trader. I don't ever remember him as ever being the owner of a new automobile. He traded his in on another - then he would paint it. The wheels were invariably painted red. We would just cringe and try to enjoy our "new" car.
Before I was old enough to start school, we lived on a 40 acre farm way out in the woods. I used to ride up to the gate with him in the morning to open and close it for him and then I'd walk back to the house. In the evening when he came home from work, I'd run out and jump up on the running-board of the car and say, "What did you bring home for your baby today?" Sometimes it would be the meat rinds from his bacon, sometimes it would be an orange, but it was always a thrill to see what he would bring me each day. I was still his "Baby Boy" when I was forty years old.
Anyway, we had no electricity, but my Dad had a battery powered radio. He used automobile batteries, I think. He ran an aerial from the house out to a pine tree some distance from the house. When we moved closer to his work, we bought a home in the little village
beside a large lake. He owned one of the first radios in the village. Friends used to come to visit and sit on our front porch and listen to the radio. The Lum and Abner program was a hit then.
He loved music! He would sit on our porch and play his banjo for all to hear. We had lots of fun on that old porch. Anyone that could play an instrument would join in and some good sounds came forth for us to enjoy.
He owned a large Harley motorcycle and I enjoyed riding with him. When I got out of high school, I purchased an old Indian motorcycle for $50. I guess it just runs in the family.
My Dad made a sawmill in our side yard. He used a small automobile engine for power. He would saw up cedar logs into rough boards, and our neighbor, being a skilled carpenter, made beautiful furniture and cedar chests out of the lumber.
When we went on a trip, my Dad didn't like to use road maps. His theory was that if you used a map put out by a particular gas company, the map would steer you past their gas pumps and thus not necessarily get you to where you were going in the most direct route.
My Dad used to tell us about Frank James (Jesse's Brother). I was never convinced about those stories. I wanted to believe, but that part of his life will always remain a mystery to me.
One day, Dad and I were out fishing and were thinking about coming home when he cast his lure into some dollar sized lily pads and there was a big swirl and he tried to reel in the fish. The fish and bait got all tangled up in the pads and we had to row over to the spot. When we got the lure and fish into the boat, it was an eight pound bass. He was so thrilled that I had to take him over to one of his friend's home to weigh it. Of course he wanted to show off his catch also!
In closing, I'd like to share a very touching story, at least for me. I was reported as missing in action and ended up as a POW in Germany. When I returned home, my Dad said, "I want you to come with me." We went out to the garage and he pointed to a spoon stuck in the side of
the wall. He told me to take it down. He said, "When you left to go overseas, I put that spoon in that crack and said that you were the only one that was going to take it down." That was my Dad.