Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clues to Dad's Mystery Past...

Most of what we know about my Dad's past was told to us by our Mom. He never liked to talk about his early childhood since that was a little rocky, we never heard stories about what my Dad did for the first 40 years of his life before meeting our Mom, and we never knew anything about his Dad's side of the family. Obviously, we do know that Dad was married twice before my Mom and had two children from his first marriage -Kelly and David. We know some facts, but would like to know the stories.

Blake's Uncle John, who's hobby is tracing family trees, was able to find a little bit
of information recently about the Brandt family but that was all we had. Until now.

Last week we went to clean out Dad's mobile home in Fallbrook in 100 degree weather... great timing. We found some interesting photos and information about Dad and his
family. The baby picture to the right is of Dad, and we found his 10th Grade yearbook where his friends called him "a swell guy", and we now have his High School Letter from John Muir High School in Pasadena. I think it was from playing football and baseball.

Mom always told us that Dad was in a bowling league but this picture of him bowling at age 23 (Megan's current age) is just amazing!!! Megan just stared at the picture and tried to imagine him at her age. And it's just amazing to see my Dad as a young person in his twenties. We don't have many or any pictures of him at this age. He's so cute.

We also found pictures of Dad's Grandfather who we know almost nothing about. One was taken some time in the late 20s or early 30s in Pasadena and the other was found with his "Chauffeur"
certification when he lived in Chicago in 1914 and worked as a taxi driver. Once he moved to Pasadena he became a gardener for a private family (from what Blake's Uncle told us) and/or a botanist teacher (which is what it says on the back of the photo). Must have been where Dad got his green thumb. Dad doesn't remember him since he was only 1 year old when his Grandfather died.

The last photo we found was a picture from the 30s of Dad's Dad in the infantry when he was around 18-20 years old. He
died at age 61 in 1976.

I'm sure this is pretty boring to everyone else, but to me and Megan it's like finding lost treasure. It's also sad. How else are we supposed to learn about Dad's past and family?... it's not like he can tell us! The only person that has known my Dad since high school and is still in his life today is his friend Mike O'Rourke. We're gonna have to pick his brain some day t0 learn more about Dad's early years. Dad's stepmother, Olive Brandt, and her whole side of the family is still living in Upland and surrounding areas... I need to get a hold of them.

What we do know about Dad as a person is that he was an awesome cook, an awesome gardener, an awesome fisherman, and he collected SO MANY COINS. We don't know what to do with all of them. He doesn't seem like the coin collecting type, but someone got him into that. We'll never
know the story behind that. We also have hundreds and hundreds of photos of him fishing and holding up his catch. But, who taught him to fish? Who taught him to garden? His Dad, maybe, now that we know it runs in the family. Or maybe those were just things that every kid knew how to do back then. These are the stories that I wish I knew. Unfortunately all that information is lost inside him. To this day, I kick myself for not getting the recipe to his Teriyaki sauce. How would I know that at 17 years old I should have been asking him to write down recipes or tell us stories about what made him the person he is now?

Had to add this fishing picture! AMAZING!

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