My Memoirs Backstory: My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer, Pt 7

daddy-ma-and-fam-in-color
1968 Family Photo (I’m 2nd from left, middle row.)

 

The Writer’s Prayer:
“Make this tale live for us
in all its many bearings, oh Muse.”
Steven Pressfield
The War of Art

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My Daddy  (Part 7, Continued from Part 6)

While married to his first wife, Ava (Eva?), for some time Daddy owned a small Mercantile shop. Then World War II removed his main source of income: Rubber tires:

“The war efforts needed all the rubber to build war equipment. Selling tires for the model T Ford, and other such, was how I made my greatest overhead. So I was run out of business when I couldn’t sell rubber tires anymore,” he explained.

“While I still owned my store, a woman would come in daily and hit on me. I finally told her, ‘I haven’t got caught up to home yet!’ That sure put a damper on things!”

Daddy loved to tell that joke. That was one great thing about him: He was good at getting a laugh — had a wonderful sense of humor. Sadly, though, he did try to curb that special talent once the LeBaron cult started cracking down on light-mindedness — considered a sin. (They didn’t know “Laughter is the best medicine.”)

I never spent much time around Daddy. I already mentiond a little about this in previous blogs: He had a terrible temper that I got the brunt of more than all the rest of his children put together: I was the scapegoat of the family.

But he was usually away from the house working all day. So that lessened the stress I endured because of him — and because of Mother … who would get me in trouble with him every chance she could — like every day, once I became a teenager!

On Sundays, he did not work — which meant he was always home keeping the Sabbath. After our daily morning prayers were said in the big famiy circle, and breakfast was over, as well as our at-home family Sunday School service, Daddy would sit in his overstuffed armchair in the living room, by the pretty petrified-wood-decorated fireplace he built, and read the newspaper and the comic strips.

I loved watching how he would sometimes laugh till he teared up reading the Little Orphan Annie comic series. As a child, I especially loved it when he would throw me the “Funny Papers” after he got through reading them.

Then I would lie on my stomach on the fireplace hearth and try to read and understand The Funnies. But try as I may, back then, I never could figure out what Daddy found so funny about his favorite comic strip, Little Orphan Annie

I lacked the maturity and experience to comprehend such things. Daddy was twenty-six years older than Mother, and around fifty-two years older than I — old enough to be my grandfather.

Other than being around him on Sunday mornings so I could get the funnies once he was through with them, mostly I avoided being in the same room with him — or hid in the shadows when he was home. I was afraid of him:

Almost every day he would lash out at me, both physically and verbally. Often he would make fun of me and put me down, also, in front of my family or friends … or whoever else happened to be around when he found a reason to ridicule me and “put me in my place.”

Because of this, I developed a love-hate confused feeling for him, though I never realized it till much later. For Mother always told us what a saint Daddy was, and that he was the very best man in the whole wide world!

Needless to say, I never got to learn a whole lot about my father, due to it being so miserable for me … so threatening to be around him.

But I remember, when I was only around four years old, he took an oil painting class. I recall him sitting out under the backyard trees with his easel and paints, copying some nature scenes that included our house he had bought around two years before when it was not much more than a shack.

He was remodeling it to make it a livable home. He generally would buy a run-down ramshackle of a place. Then fix it up into a fairly decent abode. But before we had much time to enjoy the better living conditions, we’d end up moving, for one reason or another, to a new ramshackle abode. And the whole damn scene would start all over again — us living in a mud adobe abode or whatever, till he fixed it up into a half-decent place to live.

“Why couldn’t we ever stay in the home once it got fixed up and had running water, a shower, electricity, and a flushing toilet?” I used to wish and wonder. We moved around twelve times from the time I was born in a mud adobe abode in Mexico till I turned fourteen! Then we moved back again, “fool” circle, to another mud adobe abode in the Mormon fundamentalist cult where I first started out: Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico!

Well, no sooner did Daddy do a complete makeover of our new mud adobe abode in Colonia LeBaron, such that it was no longer the ramshackle shack it started out as, but what I was married off, at age sixteen, in an arranged polygamous marriage!  And that entailed moving again, this time to my own home …  and another mud adobe abode!)

*Continued in My Memoirs: My Daddy, Pt. 8)

 

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