My father William

This is a blog about my father, William Foster Gillian and the legends he created during his life. We, the children have such great memories of an amazing life, because of him and my mother, Virginia Rose Gruszka Gillian. I want to tell of the stories and folktales of my family, for we have no next generation. I hope I can do justice to my father, for he was an amazing story teller. Thank you for your precious time spent reading this blog!

Location: United States

Tuesday, November 01, 2005



I have had some medcialsissues, so have not posted for awhile--will post soon though again. I am sick and tired of strangers using my blog to advertise their crap without my permission--it is trespassing.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"

History 101: "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" translates to "The life of Umar Khayyam".
He lived from 1048-1122 and was known as a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher during his life. In 1859, quatrains of his poetry were translated for the first time by Edward Fitzgerald from Farsi to English. Khayyam was essentially a hedonist and a skeptic, who spoke with both an earthy and spiritual freedom that stirred universal response. This made the "Rubaiyat" one of the best known and often quoted English classics.

"Where in the hell am I?!" thought William, as he awoke saturday morning, feeling groggy and well hung over. As he sat up, he rubbed his eyes, and looked around. His lodgings were a ditch, next to the Whiting Standard Oil Refinery. As he surveyed his environ, his next thought was : "Where in the hell is my car?!?!" To say the least, he was not having a good start to his day.

Through the daze of the booze, and throbbing of his headache, he tried to remember the events of the prior night. Drinking and dancing, then more drinking and celebrating. But what was the ocassion? Through his foggy mind, he recalled, Checking out his blind date, then driving home to get ready-ready for what?!

Ready for the wedding of his best firend Jerry Jefjac, both were friends and sport jocks in high school. William football, and Jeff track and field. William was best man, and the photograph of the wedding group showed him to be ever so handsome! The reception was an all night affair, and when he heard Jeff had no plans for a honeymoon, due to lack of money--William immediately offered his new car to the newlyweds for a weekend in Chicago. My father was infamous for his generosity, and unproked acts of kindness.

My father told me his last memory of the night into morning, before awakening in the ditch, was that he was standing on a bar in Whiting, surrounded by off-duty East Chicago cops, reciting the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". The stuff that legends and great stories are made up of. I have read the poetry throughout my life, the last time, was at my father's wake. I have picked a few verses to leave you with, which I believe he would have recited upon that night. A start of a weekend that changed his life--amazing what power moments possess.

I should mention that awakening in the ditch, made my father quit drinking for the rest of his life. I can remember him having only 2 beers. It would be one very old beer on the hottest day of summer-"that's when it tastes the best kid", he would say.

"Come fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To Fly--and Lo! the Bird on the Wing."

"And if the Wind you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all Things end in--Yes-
Then fancy while Thou art, Thou art but what
Thou shalt be--Nothing--Thou shalt not be less."

"Ah! Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears
To-morrow?--Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years"

"Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a Voice within the Tavern cry,
'Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquior in its Cup be dry'".

Above translation by Edward Fitzgerald

links used as references, I thank them greatly for their help:

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Virginia awoke sunday morning, and went off to church, as all good Polish Catholic girls do, with her parents. Yes, she complained about her poor treatment on her blind date. Yes, she admitted she had a great time playing cards with him and their friends. Yes, she admitted she even liked him. No, she was not going to see him again! After all, he made her walk everywhere last night in her high heels! When mass was over, she headed off to a group picnic, to spend the afternoon with friends.

While she enjoyed a refreshing beverage, bemoaning her date to sympathetic girlfriends, she spied a group of women surrounding a man juggling. They were laughing and talking, having such fun. Just before she went over to join in the frivolity, she recognized the center of attention. Yes, it was William. My father always knew how to entertain people. I was raised being mystified by slight of hand. He knew how to make anyone feel part of the group. Yes, she snubbed him, though they exchanged glances. My father figured "oh well", and went on amusing his bevey of beauties, having a great old time.

As she stood against a tree, with her clique of friends, a young man she and William knew saundered by. "Hey Virginia! Wasn't that a great thing Bill did for his buddy?" he said. She replied, in a miffed tone, that she did not know what he was referring to. "You don't know?! Everyone is talking about it. His best friend Jerry got married friday night, but he did not have enough money for a honeymoon. Bill loaned him his new car, so Jerry could take his bride away to Chicago for the weekend. Boy, what a guy." I can just imagine her thoughts and feelings. She tried not to let anything show upon her face. I bet she just felt horrible, and yet incrediblely touched by the romance of the story. That act of kindness, was when William started to sweep my mother off her feet. She must have had a beautiful smile upon her face, and a few tears in her fawn brown eyes.

She looked across the lawn, and gazed upon Bill, then like a moth to the flame, she closed the distance between them. She joined in the merriment, and my father smiled at her, not knowing what had just transpired. They spent the rest of the afternoon together.

Now you know what happened to the car. But what exactly transpired between the time my father teased his blind date on friday afternoon and picked her up on saturday afternoon?!?! Tune in next time for:"Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam". Just like the serials my father loved to go to as a child on saturday mornings.

History 101: Serials were a film series, one installment shown at a time. In the good old days, when you went to see a picture show-it was a real show. There were trailers, cartoons, and the serial before the star attraction. The serials were westerns, scif-fi, and melodramas. Each ended with a cliffhanger-leaving you not knowing what to expect next time,thus making sure you would come back again.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Where is the car?!

Virginia Gruszka went home, and talked with her mother about the way she was treated. She was so offended by encounter. Antonette laughed, and asked her daughter if he was a "dog". My mother stampered, and then meekly replied "no". So, saturday morning she dressed not only to go to work, but also for the date that evening. Father was picking her up after work, then they were going to a mutual friend's home for an evening of cards and drinks. Yes, this was the person that fixed them up, but I was never told a name though. She was told, by the friend, that my father had a new car, so she picked out her high heels to wear. She was dressing to WOW.

History Lesson 101: Right after the end of WWII, new cars were a rare thing, since all the metal and such went to the war effort. You could say they were rarer than hen's teeth. A new car was a major status symbol at the time.

My mother finished her day, and stood outside the store (Carrie Long's) to await my father's arrival. She told me that her shop was enveyed by the others on the block, and there was an expectation for the CL girls to be the best dressed, compared to the rivals. As she stood outside, she admitted to me, she was checked out by the competition-knowing she was looking GOOD!

My father walked up and greeted her. She was hoping for him to pull up in front of the store, and to have everyone see her date and his NEW car. She was looking to make a splashy show in front of the other shop girls- CL girls rule! She thought he must have parked down the street. They started to walk, and my father, possessing the gift for gab, was talking about all kinds of things, while smoking his cigarette. My mother slowly realized that the farther they went, that there was NO car. She was going to have to walk the 12-14 blocks to the friend's home in her uncomfortable high heels! She was not amused!!! During the hike, she firgured he did not have a car after all, and just told this so she would go out with him, or that he did not think the date was worthy of the car. Either way-she was UPSET! Of course, due to her up bringing, she was not about to broach the subject with him. It was just all too embarrassing.

They arrived at the residence and played cards well into the night with a few other couples. My father then walked her home. My mother was vivid, making up her mind that no second date was ever going to happen.

Well, I am going to leave you here for now. The next part of the story is long and a little complex. It involves a sid story, that is one of my personal favorites.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Boulevadier

I am back finally, after vacation and yet another round of antiboitics for sinus and bronchitis. Vacation was San Deigo--rain, rain, rain, rain, etc. You get the picture.

Well, onto my father William. When I was little, I was a curious child and books were always a GREAT attraction to me. I will tell you the "Playboy" story later. There were several large photo albums, with pictures of many lovely ladys, of varying ages and looks, in my parent's bedroom. I asked father about them, and he replied we were his date books. I was shocked! My father went out with women other than my mother! I was appalled by it all! I then let curosity get the best of me again, and I asked about them. Some were classmates, and others were from the neighborhood. Some were friends of friends, yet others were blind dates. One picture of a older woman, who I remember as being very beautiful, was a teacher of his. There were so many. I was in awe of my father. WOW! I then asked my mother where her Books were (note: plural), and she showed me only a few pictures of the small crowd, who had courted her. I could not believe it. I was stunned by the vast difference in their experiences. Oh, how naive I was!

These days my father would be considered a "player", but back then he thought of himself as a "Boulevadier". A man of romance. A snappy dresser, who was light upon his feet. He told me he asked every girl out. He said it was surprising, when the pretty ones would tell him, that they did not get asked out much. He saw a "No" from a girl as simply a "no", and not a personal rejection. He believed in showing a girl a lovely time, and respecting her. He never tried anything with anyone of them. He told of one girl, who cried at the end of a date, for she was always treated like trash and used. She had never been shown such respect and kindness by any man before. He told me of going to seven proms one year, for his mother fixed him up with friends' daughters, that could not get a date for some reason. These were at various schools thoughout the region. He said he enjoyed each outing, and made the night special for each young lady to remember. One of his favorite song lyrics was :"I'll make you a day, like no day has been or will be again...". These were the ideals my father bought me up with, making me one of the last of the hopeless romantics. I hope to tell of some of his romantic gestures thoughout this blog.

It was after WWII, and my father was a fit and handsome young Marine. He was full of vim and vigor. My mother was a shy 20 something, working in her Aunt's clothing store in downtown Hammond, "Carrie Long"s". It was High couture for back then, alligator handbags, and designer coats. Items the other stores did not carry. (At this time, Hammond was the second largest city in the state, and a thriving suburban community.) I guess I will continue this from my mother's point of view. She was working a counter, when a good-looking young man walked into the store on a friday afternoon. The shop was for women only, so she asked he if needed any help. He replied he wanted a hankerchief box for his mother, though he had made no purchase. This stunned her, and she explained she could not give him one. The banter went back and forth for few minutes,when my father announced he would see her tomorrow. My mother was flustered at this point, and stared at him, asking what he meant. He replied "I am your blind date for tomorrow, and I just came by to check you out, to make sure you were not a dog." With a smile and a wave, he walked out of the store leaving my mother literally beside herself in shock. My father had an amzaing sense of humor, and my mother came from a world void of it.

Mutual friends of theirs had set them up for a blind date for saturday evening. She was a wreck, for she never had experienced anything/anyone like my father before. I can still see her face, as she told me the story of their first meeting. Oh, the smile and the flush in her cheeks, just as it must have been on that fateful day. My mother came from a Polish Roman Catholic family--her grandparents from the old country. She had led a pretty sheltered life until meeting father. He changed that for good.

Well, I think I will leave you hanging here for the first date story--there are a couple side stories to it and the second date/chance encounter is tied in as well. I do not want to make these posting too long, because you might not read them then.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Turning 21

I know I promised the blind date story, but today I turn 43 years old. It is 2:38am and I cannot sleep, after a long shift in the ER. So, I thought about birthdays past, and began to smile about a particular one, my 21st. I thought I would type about it, since the sandman has not visited me yet.

Growing up, we did not have alot of money, and having a birthday after christmas, sometimes meant not getting alot of presents, though the love was there. Also, I have had two relatives buried on my birthday--not the best of memories. Well, when you turn 21, your thoughts go to wonderful presents and becoming an adult. You are legal now and all that stuff. Well, birthday parties were never part of our family celebrations. We had cake, gifts, and cards usually. Well, my father, with my mother's help, came up with the most original birthday presentation for a girl turning 21 years old ever. My father was a generous man, but loved being frugal. I had dreams of jewelry, or jewelry, or even jewelry, as other college classmates got at this turning point of their lives. Well, it was not jewelry for me! It was "Go Fish".

I was lead to the living room, that morning, by my mother. The door to my father's workshop was open, with a sheet across it. On the sheet was a "Happy Birthday" sign drawn by my mother. She was quite a talented lady. I have always wished I could be as artistic as her. My mother,smiling, handed me a fishing pole, and said I had to "fish" for my presents. Was I ever stunned! I was 21! I was an adult now! I was fishing for gifts! Well, with my father behind the sheet, I started to fish. Sometimes a gift, sometimes a witty remark written on a card, sometimes nothing on the line at all, but a witty verbal remark from father about my lack of fishing skills. This went on for the better part of an hour. My parents giggling, and I trying to hide my disbelief, that this was how I was celebrating turning 21!

In the end, there were 6-8 presents--all from clearance from Kaybee toys!?! They all were children's toys--nothing adult at all! My favorite was the plastic fishes floating in a bowl, and you make them swim by pressing a button. Back upon that day, I was dissappointed that I was not given an adult gift, but as I look back upon that birthday, I realize I was given so much more, then most children get. I got time with my parents, to play with them once more as a child. They spent alot of creative energy on making that birthday special for me. It was most special indeed. They gave me memories that last forever, and a smile that grows across my face, whenever I think about turing 21. :)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Where to now?!

I have been trying to figure out how to proceed from the first entry. Do I just tell scattered stories, as the pop up from my memory, or do I go for chronological order. This has delayed my second post for a while now, but I have reached a compromise. Compromises are always good, I feel. I will go in order, until all the major players are introduced (i.e. the children, mother, and some of the relatives), and then I will jump around a little bit.

My sister Carrie, who is 10 years older than me (I am 43 years old this month), emailed me about a mistake in the first entry. My Aunt Myrna was really my father's younger sibling. This error was not due to forgetfulness, but due to tall tales told by my father. He was a GREAT story teller, always the life of the party. I will always let you know when a story is a tale versus a real event. I promise you, when you read some of the real events, you will think them tall tales, but I promise they are non-fiction. Because of our father, we have led amazing lives as children. No, we were not rich nor famous, but we saw and did things few children get a chance to do with their parents.

Well, back to Aunt Myrna Jean Gillian Carpenter. When I was young and cute, I was the apple of my father's eye (avoid typing "favorite" to avoid sibling conflict!?!). Grandmother Gillian (Noran Edith Snieder Gillian) always played favorites with her two children. She lived with Aunt Myrna, who was married to Bennie F. Carpenter M.D., and resided in Crown Point IN. Whenever she visited us in Hammond, she would always pick on father. Since I was the "apple", I was picked upon as well. She would tease me about my father and I would defend him. My Grandmother Edith (what she liked to be called), was not malicious, but just loved to stir the pot up! Myrna this and Myrna that she would say, as she knitted away drinking spiked tea. After she left, I asked my father why grandmother treated him so. Our mother did not act that way to her children, for she loved them all equally. I just could not wrap my little mind around the concept of mothers not being nice to their children. My father said it always was that way growing up, since Myrna was the first born, she was the favorite. She had a pet dog, while he was only allowed to have a pet ant. He told me how my aunt killed his ant one day in the alley. I know many of you are thinking of the old joke based on the Pink Panther, but this pre-dated that joke by a number of years. She had a bike and he had to walk. She had shoes, and he had none. She ate at the table and he ate with the dog. She had toys, and he had a log. At christmas, she got gifts, and he got the wrapping paper from them. So, over the years, I just never had any reason to question these tales, nor the age of my Aunt. When she passed away from liver cancer, I found out her real age, in relationship to my father. When I asked him about it, he just grinned. He had forgotten about the tales, and it brought back some fond memories for him of his mother and sister.

Where to now? Well the next entry will start with my father as a young man, set-up on a blind date...