Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!


This is Dad with his beloved Spooky. He thought the world of his cat.

Today would have been my dad's 97th birthday. He was born in Wharton, PA on September 7, 1911 and passed away in Spartanburg, SC of brain cancer on January 7, 1995. This is my loving tribute to him.

He was born to Mary Agusta and Ephrem Robinson. His father left to find work logging when my dad was just 5 years old and never returned home. He died in Tupper Lake, NY and was buried there. We have no pictures of him at all. Below are a couple of pictures of Dad's mother.

My dad's mother, my Grandma Gustie

My dad's mother, my Grandma Gustie

Grandma had just the 2 sons, Milford and Maynard, who was my dad. She had quite a time trying to raise them on her own. She moved around and did housekeeping and finally an older gentleman by the name of Art Robbins took her and her sons in and gave them a home. In return, Grandma cooked and kept house for him. Art lived to the ripe old age of 93. In later years, Art became an invalid and unable to live alone, so my dad moved him into town and let him live in one of his rental cabins across from our hotel. My parents looked out for him right up until his death. My dad told me one time that Art had been like a father to him and his brother and was the only father figure he could ever remember. Art read the Bible all the time and said it was the best book he'd ever read. Without him, I don't know how Grandma could have ever fed and clothed those little boys and kept a roof over their heads. People were poor back in those days, and neighbors were always there to help one another. My dad grew up loving this wonderful old man just as if he had been his biological father.

Art Robbins

Below is a picture of my dad with his brother, Milford, and paternal grandmother. Dad is the smaller one of the two with the big grin on his face.

Milford, Grandma, Maynard (my dad)

Below is a picture of his maternal grandmother....

Grandma Graham

And below is my dad's uncle, his mother's brother. His name was George William Graham, and we called him Uncle Will. He was a deaf mute from the age of 5 when he fell off a bridge and broke both eardrums and damaged his voicebox. He attended special school in Philadelphia for the deaf where he learned to read and write and all the other things than normal children were taught in school. Dad also took care of him as he grew old. Uncle Will used to work in the stone quarries for my dad, so he had a steady income. He could work circles around the younger guys! He taught me sign language when I was a child and taught my little girl the hand alphabet and how to spell words with her hands when she was only 3 years old. He was always there for my dad and his brother, too, while they were growing up. Uncle Will was a sweet old man. He never married.

Uncle Will

This is a picture of Dad when he was a young lad in school....

Dad finished 8th grade only and later went on to work in the CCC Camp. I can't recall now what the letters stand for, but it was some kind of Conservation Corp. He said it made a man out of him in a hurry, as they worked hard there. Below is a picture of the CCC Camp. Looks mightly cold to me in the wintertime. They lived in barracks much like our servicemen, I guess. He used to tell stories about the mess hall, too.

Then later, he met my mother and they fell in love...

Young Sweethearts

They moved to Buffalo where they both worked for Curtiss Wright during the war, building airplanes in a factory. After the war, Dad decided to buy a business as he always said you never get ahead when you work for someone else. He wanted to be his own boss. So they bought the old hotel. They got their state liquor license and also started a restaurant. There were 2 gas pumps in front, too, plus a little country store inside the hotel. They also started boarding fishermen and hunters. Pic below:

Here is a picture of my dad taken for the first state liquor license. I think he grew up to be a good looking guy!

My dad had been married before and had 4 children by that marriage. Then he had my brother and me by my mom. He was the father of 6 children. I believe the only time all 6 of us had ever been in a room all at one time was at his funeral. I have a picture of the 6 of us that day but can't put my hands on it at the moment, wouldn't you know?!!!

Dad was a likable guy. He got his nickname from talking all the time. "Windy" was his nickname. He and Mom would receive mail with just Windy and Squeek on it and then the name of the town where we lived. Everyone knew them! He had the personality for running a bar and hotel. He loved it! It was hard work and long hours. Sundays were spent cleaning, mopping, and waxing those big floors. There was a shuffleboard room with tables set up in there for customers, too.

An afternoon with some friends.

L-R: ???, Roy Logue, ???, Ross Spear, Wormy Wolfanger, Dad

If anyone back home knows who the other 2 guys are, please let me know so I can add their names.

Below is a pic of a New Year's Eve celebration they held. They were young and having fun while making a living, too!

One day, Dad decided that he wanted to quarry stone out of the mountains. Mom went to work in a factory, and Grandma Jenny moved in to take care of us kids, and Dad went climbing the hills looking for stone. He had to uncover several mountaintops before actually finding a good quarry. It was quite costly to pay a bulldozing bill and then discover that the stone wasn't any good. If he found a good quarry, it could last a long time. They would work it til the stone was gone. Then on to open a new quarry. During the cold winters, the stone layers would be covered with hay or straw, then the dozer would push dirt over it, and the quarry would be closed until Spring.

The first 3 pics below show custom cut stone for patios and sidewalks. It is a true art to cut a big piece without breaking it down the middle or a corner snapping off. The rattlesnakes lived in these mountains, and they had to watch their step every minute! The snakes loved that warm stone to sun themselves on. The guys would kill one every now and then. My dad was a hard worker...he worked right alongside his men every day in the heat.

I remember when I was just out of second grade for the summer, my mom was working in a factory, so I had to go with my dad to the quarry every day. Grandma Jenny had her hands full without having to keep track of me every day. My brother was almost 4 years older so he could take care of himself pretty much. It was a good hour's drive one way. The days were hot and dusty, but lunchtime was always fun with my dad, and the workers would always have candy bars, cookies, and lollipops for me, too. I loved being with my dad.

The stone machine for cutting veneer stone was always covered at night in case it rained, as you can see in the background. It was a $20,000 machine, a lot of money back in the 1950's. It's a lot even today, so you can imagine how much it was back then!

The pic above shows the forklift needed to load the pallets of veneer stone onto the truck.

This pic shows the pallets of veneer stone strapped onto pallets, ready to be loaded and delivered to customers. He sold stone in the eastern states and also in Canada. He would make some of the trips himself, leaving at 3:30am and not getting home til close to midnight that night. Sometimes I would ride along with him, and sometimes Dutchess, our boxer dog, would ride with him. She absolutely LOVED my dad!!!! He was an animal lover, as was his mother, so you can see where I get my love for animals.

"DUTCHESS"...she was such a wonderful dog!!!

And this was the truck we rode in! It was a rough ride...poor ole Dutchess would lay and sleep for 3 days after a trip! This was a brand new truck back then but looks kind of ancient now. Dad also had a couple of drivers who would haul for him, too.

Here's another pic of Dad with Dutchess. Prior to coming to live with us, she had had a bad life, living on a 3-foot chain in a cold garage in PA, with not even a rug to lay on. The night we went to see her, it took my dad just long enough to get the words out of his mouth that yes, he would take her! She had a good life after that, a real cushy life! She had a real people bed to sleep in! She and Dad had such a bond.

This is the home Dad had custom built, using his own veneer stone. This was a blue-green colored stone. Once the stone is washed, this is what it looks like.

With the quarries closed for the winter, that was when we'd get our vacation. We'd head to Florida every year on December 20th, just as soon as hunting season was over and the hotel was all cleaned. One year they even put us kids in school there. It was fun having Christmas early at home and then having it all over again in Florida every year. Below is a pic of Mom and Dad together in 1958 in Florida...Dad looked sharp in his shades! They certainly earned this vacation every winter!

I have always said my dad was a saint. Anyone who could put up with this crew and take them on vacation HAD to be a saint! Notice my brother sticking his tongue out. LOL Yep, my dad was a saint, for sure!!!

Mom, Grandma Jenny, Jake and me

My dad was a 32nd Degree Mason. He joined the Coudersport Consistory. He was a highly respected man and a wonderful husband, father, and friend to so many!

Coudersport Consistory, Coudersport, PA

When we had to relocate to South Carolina in 1984 and leave our parents behind, it was just heartbreaking. My folks came to SC every winter, sometimes staying for 3 months with us. The day they had to head back North was heartbreaking, as well, for all of us.

Mom and Dad ready to leave for home

I do believe this is my favorite picture of my folks together. It was given to me by my sister-in-law.

And this is my dad's final resting place. He'd be here in SC next to Mom, but the quote I was given was $15,000 plus another $8,000 for the mausoleum. Mom said she wanted to stay here and said it really didn't matter where they were buried, as their souls would be together and that the body is nothing more than a shell. Her words. He is there close to his mother and Uncle Will. There is a bulldozer engraved in the middle of the stone as Dad had his own and loved it, and also the masonic emblem is engraved on it, too.

This post has taken me hours to do, as it is now 5pm, and I started around 11am this morning. With tears flowing, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday, Dad! I miss you, and I love you so much!!! Rest in peace until we meet again.


Diane@Diane's Place said...

A wonderful, loving tribute in honor of your Dad, Nancy. He had a full life and a good one by your account.

Happy Birthday, Windy.

Love and hugs,


PEA said...

Dearest Nancy,

What a very beautiful birthday tribute to your wonderful dad! I so enjoyed seeing all the pictures to accompany your words. I remember the post you had made about your mom and I can see that both your parents were very hard workers and yet managed to also be wonderful parents to their children. They've both left such a loving legacy, you truly are blessed to have had them as your parents. xoxo

Monogram Queen said...

Being a PA gal I find your posts touching and can so relate!!!

I have a Spooky too.. Your Dad sounds like a sweet, darling man.

Diane said...

That was beautiful. Loved the pictures. It was a wonderful memorial. I'm sure many tears were shed. This is a great idea. I should do something like that sometime.


Old Lady Lincoln said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Father. Sounds like you had a wonderful childhood and lots of fond memories.

hippochick said...

Nancy, That was lovely. What a wonderful tribute to your dad. I remember your Uncle Will. He was a dear man.

We can't figure out the people in the picture. Jim is going to take it down to his brother, Dale and see if he knows.

Thanks for sharing all those wonderful memories and pictures.

~hippo hugs~

Mississippi Songbird said...

Awww. Such sweet pictures.. I know you enjoyed posting these. I loved looking at them. Thanks so much for sharing these special memories with us. God Bless you..

Gramma Ann said...


That was a beautiful tribute to your Dad.

My kitten, Mr. Jones, is a black kitty like Spooky.

I hope things have slowed down a little in your life. It was nice you took time to post again.

Have a nice week.


Lib said...

Hi Nancy,
Hope you're having a great wk.
I love your tribute's.Your Family is so Blessed to have you share so much info and pics.!:o)
Trying to catch up on my visits.Seems never enough time these busy days!

Susie said...

Hi Nancy,
I totally understand why this post took so long as you put your heart and soul into it, just as you did for your Mom.
Happy Birthday to your Dad..

zzop357 said...

We too miss our Mom and Dad. I understand why it took os long to write it.You went through a life time of memory's to write this.
Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man Nancy.Your parents did a great job raising their kids. I can see that in you.
God bless. Donna

Jess said...

Lovely post...and girl when you do a post you do a good one!

Happy Birthday to your dad...

Have a great week.

Sammy said...

Hi Nancy!

What a beautiful, loving tribute to your dad. I love all the photos.

This is a great post! I really enjoyed reading it!


Renie Burghardt said...


What an amazingly beautiful tribute to your beloved Dad. Just like the tributes to your Grandma and your Mom.

What a hard working, loving man. Both your parents were so hard working, a trait you inherited.

Loved the old pictures. Your dad as a little boy with his grandma and brother, looks adorable.

You shared your heart with this tribute, Nancy. A touching post.

Take care and God bless!



Merle said...

Dear Nancy ~~ I loved your tribute to your Dad and all the photos were great too. Well done, when you have so little free time, but this was really a labor of love wasn't it? I read the previous post too, and am so glad your son wasn't hurt too badly. It has occurred to me that it could be kinder to put them to sleep to avoid all the suffering of chemo or radiation and blood transfusions etc.
I guess you know best but I feel so sorry for them and for you doing so much. Thanks for your comments about my fairy garden and the jokes. Please
don't worry about blogging and visiting
until your life settles down a bit. Take care of yourself Nancy.Love,Merle.

Steven said...

I was absent for some time, a thousand reasons, is now here I am again. I hope that you are good - I wish you all the best

Midlife Mom said...

What a wonderful, wonderful tribute to your Dad Nancy! Just a beautiful post and I can see why it took you so long! As one of the other commenters said, you put your heart and soul into it. One of the beautful things about this blogging is that we put things into words like our family history that we might not ever do if we weren't blogging. Each member of your extended family should have copies of the excellent posts you have done about your family! xoxo
Happy Birthday Windy!

Diane of Crafty Passions said...

That was a wonderful tribute from a loving daughter, you did him proud.