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Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Dad


My Daddy. I sure do miss him.



He took pride in us kids and spoiled me something awful. He gave the best hugs and loved to make us laugh and do things with family.



He worked hard and gave back to the community. He loved being our Dad and I felt like he was Superman when I was with him.



My Dad, Harry Simms, passed away in 1980 at the tender age of 55. He had an aneurism just 2 years after having suffered a stroke caused by the stress of our beloved Olney Inn burning to the ground. He left us much too soon. I was 5 months pregnant with my 2nd daughter, Kim, and was forever changed by his sudden death.



My heart skips a beat when I think that I am, right now, the same age my father was when he passed away all those years ago.  They bring back a flood of memories of a time gone by, and a man who I cherished.



My Dad was politically active for many years.  He ran for Congress and U.S. Senate in the 1960s and 70s.  He would include us kids in all his activities, from Grand Ole Parties (LOL) out at our home in Brookeville, Maryland, to campaign parades and more.  When he wasn't politically involved, my Dad sold real estate - mostly commercial real estate deals.



What I remember most about my Dad, was how much time he spent with all of us, taking us on vacations, riding motorcycles, playing board games, dancing in the kitchen with my mother, or watching television with me while enjoying Tastycake Chocolate Cupcakes with milk.  I loved my Daddy.


When Kennedy was shot, he was very upset and hurried home from his office in Wheaton, Maryland, to watch the news.



When Nixon resigned, he cried.  And cried.


When he lost an election, I would cry.  I remember one time my Dad was trying to be stoic about his loss to J. Glenn Beall, and I could see how hurt and upset he was.  I wanted him to feel good so I said to him "Daddy ... you are a winner to every one who voted for you."  I remember he looked at me and came over and gave me the biggest hug and kiss.  I could tell that those words meant a lot to him.



When the Olney Inn burned down, it took everything out of him.  He had lost everything - or almost everything anyway.  Two strokes and an anneurism within 2 years of the fire took his life.  He just couldn't handle the stress.



My father served in WWII.  He served in the ETO - European Theater of Operations.  He served in Belgium, France, Germany.  Whenever my Dad would get sick with a fever and sleep, he would begin squirming and yelling "Juba!!  Juba!!"  He was in a fire fight overseas and next to him was his military buddy, Juba.  Juba had his head blown off right next to my father and my father was also scarred and injured from that event.  He was sent home after that experience  to recover from his injuries, but the scars from war went deeper than any healing could ever hope to heal.  



Yes, I miss my Daddy.  I wish he could have known my children and grandchildren, my husband, Bob, and all that I and my brothers accomplished in this life.  He would be 88y/o had he lived.


Here are two stories about my Dad that should make you laugh.  One time, we were going on a vacation and driving down this road - a small highway - on our way to Florida I think.  Anyway, all three of us kids were in the back seat and my Mom was in the front with Dad.  It was really dark that night as we were traveling.  Coming in the other direction were headlights, but they were way up in the air.  I mean waaaay up.  Like 12-15 feet above the ground.  As the vehicle got closer, Dad was leaning into the steering wheel and squinting.  He said "What the hell?"  But, he kept going down the road.  Those lights got closer and closer and finally, while going about 50mph, my Dad ran off the road and into a field coming to an abrupt stop.  We were all shook up from the experience.  Mom said "Harry!  What are you doing!!!???"  The vehicle that passed us pulled over and the driver ran to our car to make sure we were okay.  Dad got out of the car and dusted himself off and the truck driver passing us said "What happened??  Are you all okay??"  Dad replied, "Mister, as you got closer I figured if you were as wide as you were tall I better get the HELL off the road!!!"  I'm sorry, I can't help but laugh out loud every time I remember that experience and hear my father's exasperation.  - - you are probably wondering what it was that was coming towards us, right?  It was an 18 wheeler carrying new cars.  The 18 wheeler had two blown out headlights, so the driver of the truck turned on the headlights for one of the new vehicles he was carrying.  Holy Crap!!


My Dad loved to play games with us kids.  He would invite all the neighborhood kids over to our house when we were living in Silver Spring, Maryland, and he made sure we all had fun, especially during the summer.  One summer evening, my Dad invited all our friends over for a game of fox and hounds.  The "fox" team would have a 10 minute advance to go hide anywhere in the community.  Dad was on the "fox" team.  There were about 10-15 of us kids on each team.  So, we all gathered in the garage of our home and made plans.  We all had flashlights, and the foxes would occasionally make sounds to get our attention after we came looking for them.  It was a great game of chase.  On this particular night, I was with the "hounds" and we were all walking down Tanley Road and looking for signs of the foxes.  Suddenly, we hear a loud ruckus from down the road.  We run in that direction and notice that there is an elderly man at the foot of a huge oak tree with his German Shepherd standing on his hind legs barking madly and jumping on the tree.  The elderly man was in his bathrobe with a rifle and a flashlight.  We stood back in the dark, turning off our flashlights.  It was just before midnight.  The man yelled "Get Down Out of My Tree You Hoodlums or I'll shoot your asses out of the tree myself!!!"  Oh boy.  They all filed down out of the tree, the German Shepherd on a leash growling at each one of them.  One-by-one, they filed out of the oak tree, one kid, then another, and none much taller than 5 feet tall.  The old man aimed the rifle at them and had them lined up like soldiers.  He took his flashlight and shined it right in the face of each kid who filed out of that tree ... then, he came to my father.  Yes, my father was up that man's oak tree on a very dark night.  The old man stopped in his tracks and shined that flashlight in my father's face for the longest time before he said anything.  Then, he said "Excuse me sir, but are you Harry Simms?"  My father replied "Yes Sir."  The old man said  "Aren't you running for U.S. Senate?"  My father replied "Yes Sir."  The old man studied my father for a minute and then said quite boldly ... "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING UP MY OAK TREE??!!!!"  

Think about that a minute.  Imagine what he must have been thinking.   Anyway, Dad explained to him how he enjoys playing these games with us kids to keep us out of trouble and it is lots of fun.  After a brief conversation, the man said, "Well damn.  That is best story I've ever heard for being in my oak tree.  You've got my vote."  We all laughed and were relieved, then we turned on our flashlights and said "Got Ya!!!"  That was a fun evening and the experience was one that I will never forget.  


Yep.  I loved my Dad.  He was pretty great.





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