My Memoir: Part 8, My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer



“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Plato … quoting Socrates


 My Daddy  (Part Eight, Continued from Part Seven)

In the Previous blog, I mentioned that when I was around five, with easel and oils, Artist Daddy used to sit beneath the big green shade tree in our front yard and paint nature scenes around about him. Often he used our home as a backdrop for his paintings. Mother kept these “Masterpieces” hanging on the wall in our home, proudly showing them off to visitors.

But, sadly, Daddy didn’t continue for long with his oil painting hobby and venture. Though oil painting had been a lifelong dream and yearning of his, and he was in his late fifties when he’d finally had the where-with-all to try his hand at it, he soon discovered oil painting or water coloring pictures — or even sketching — took a lot more time and money than he could devote to his beloved hobby, Artist though he was … better still, “frustrated Artist”!

What it boiled down to was he had to give up his artistic drive and dream because it conflicted with what he believed was his higher calling: To bring little spirits up in heaven down into good Mormon fundamentalists homes; i.e., to have all the kids he could have! He was devout, to be sure. Whatever his faults, there was a lot of good in this man.

After he sacrificed his painting hobby due to conflicts of interests — his family and religious beliefs came first — Mother gave him piano lessons because around about that time he had finally bought trained concert-pianist Mama a piano!

But when he saw that I could sit down and play by ear, at age four, whatever I heard him practicing as he struggled to learn to play by note, he was humiliated … felt cheated that it should come so easily to me, a little kid, what he had to work so hard for as an old man.

So, just like my older sister … and for the same reasons, I suspect … they both soon gave up for good and forever any attempt to learn to play the piano. But Daddy qualified it with some truths when he said:

Bein’ an artist ‘n’ playin’ musical instruments is for rich people. It takes an awful lot of time. And I have to spend my time and energy makin’ a living to support my family.” Then he added, as an afterthought,“Rich people get rich off the backs of the poor.”

However, I would qualify it with:
“The Haves and the Have-not’s
can usually be traced back to
the Did’s and the Did-not’s.”
Readers Digest) 

For example: The “Have’s” did not have a lot of kids and wives! They chose “Quality over Quantity.”  Even so, Daddy did learn to play the harmonica as a young man. And he taught me how to play “Home, Sweet Home” on it. From there, I was off and running, easily picking out by ear other tunes on the harmonica, too.

But something I could never do was whistle, though Daddy could whistle like a Pro — the only one in our family that could ever do that, far as I know. Though we all really tried hard to learn how to whistle.

In fact, when I was nine years old, it was quite a funny sounding scene around our home and yard, there for a while: All of us kids and even Mother went about trying to “whistle a happy tune,” when, at best, we weren’t blowing much more than our lips, hot air, and a lot of strange sounds!

But whenever Dad was at home and working around the place, he was his own radio — and ours too! His whistling could be heard throughout the home and yard. And I loved it — loved his beautiful whistling of tunes that were always right on pitch.

In fact, one lovely, breezy spring morning in Hurricane, Utah, when I was around eleven, I was blown away when I heard Daddy out in the barn milking Bossy, our auburn Jersey cow, exquisitely whistling the hit tune, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning — from the 1950s Musical, Oklahoma!

Mother was a trained concert pianist. But Daddy’s musicianship was that of a talented, born Whistler! I never realized, back then,what an asset and talent it truly is to be able to whistle — whistle any melody beautifully! Oh, how I would love to be able to do that myself.

(NOTE: Continued in My Memoirs: My Daddy, Pt 9)


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