Dad in His Overalls, Me in Mine

By Anthony Buccino

Itís obvious that money talks Ė and heís been silenced by decisions made light years above the clouds in penthouses by men unlike himself who heís never met and most probably never will.


Dad wears overalls constantly. He hasnít worked the planks in months, but heís ready to return next week or tomorrow or later today, if theyíd only call him.

His hearing isnít so good since he stopped smoking. It wasnít the quitting that robbed him of his sense but the thirty years of coughing so hard he shook the plaster from the walls.

Sweet-Orr overalls by Walensky, Montclair NJNow weíre never sure if he hears us or if heís in a silent, reflective gaze building god-knows-what in the canyons of his mind. But weíre getting used to it Ė like the sudden disappearance of slack in his belt.

Lately, heís been spending most nights in the poorly lit garage tinkering with a confounded invention of modern man Ė a saw sharpener! Ė that hasnít worked right since the day I moved it a little bit. His chances of success in fixing it are much the same as a little boy emptying the ocean into a moat surrounding his sand castle.

But to look at him youíd see right away heís harmless. And youíd want to smother him under your wing to protect him from the ghouls of this world who would so readily take advantage of his good nature.

He is well-trained in the hammer and nail. When you look at our house you immediately think of the shoemakerís children running barefoot.

Itís obvious that money talks Ė and heís been silenced by decisions made light years above the clouds in penthouses by men unlike himself who heís never met and most probably never will.

WW2 Letters Home from the South Pacific by Angelo BuccinoIt never wears him down. Heís seen the great hunger of this century. Heís seen the bullets and the flesh. And his soul has absorbed every flash of lightning in his life.

Mellowed, surely, seeing life as an endurance test for the fit. Losing the battle, yet winning the war. So, education wasnít his forte, he can read and tell you a hundred stories if youíve got the coffee and time.

I wonder, would my feelings be any different had there been more time between us? Had I given him the time I longed for in angry, misdirected poetic nights? I cry inside at the pettiness that trifles with our emotions. And I long for the days I never had.

With a chance tomorrow to share my life with his, I can see I wonít take it upon myself. Nor will he. We are set in our ways like the weeds and flowers.

Thereís not much time left for us. Iíll be married soon and into some other life. Heíll be scrambling in the yard with the lawn mower and a few other machines that perplex and challenge him.


Adapted from A Father's Place, An Eclectic Collection

© 1976 by Anthony Buccino

Read:

Sixteen Inches on Center

A Father's Place, An Eclectic Collection


OVERALLS

People laugh at the Liíl Abner look where the tops of my shitkickers

have a large gap to the bottom of my pin-striped bib overalls.

Donít the stripes make me look taller?

Itís not the effect you see in these overalls.

I wear them because they are functional,

made of tough material, and have lots of pockets

and a twisted loop for my 16-oz. Stanley hammer.

Your pockets can get full of Sheetrock bits

and you wonít get into any kind of laundry trouble.

Iíve worn through a lot of solid blue bib overalls, myself.

Dad used to get me them at a great price at a little store

called Walenskyís on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair.

Maybe thatís where he got this pair?

This pair of white overalls has blue vertical stripes.

I had two pairs like this once, but one plumb wore out.

These bibs fit Dad to a T you can bet.

His legs were shorter than mine,

and his belly, well, thatís another story.

I donít want another pair for Christmas or my birthday.

This pair I save for special working occasions

like heavy yard work, or painting something.

Iím trying to make these engineer overalls last forever

- By Anthony Buccino, from Sixteen Inches On Center

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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.

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