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

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...