So today, July 16th is my Dad's 71st birthday. I am relatively certain my Dad does not read this, or any other blog. My niece does, so Ashely, maybe you can show this to Grandpa?
Happy Birthday Dad! My Dad's name is George Warner Tjardes. I have always thought Warner was a cool middle name for some reason. His name is George W., the same as our U.S. President. Awhile back I went through a phase of calling my Dad "Dubya"... I think he kind of liked it. When I was a little kid learning nursery rhymes, including "Georgie Peorgie Puddin & Pie, kissed the girls and made them cry" I felt compelled to call my Dad "Georgie Peorgie". I don't think he liked that as much as "Dubya". I thought it was great when I was four, and thought it was even funnier that my Dad had kissed the girls and made them cry. Speaking of crying girls, I only remember my Dad spanking me once when I was little. I can't remember for the life of me what I had done, but I remember being distraught about being spanked. From then on I remembered the tone of my Dad's voice immediately preceding the spanking, and then whenever it reached that tone again I knew to stop.
Growing up my Dad's favorite phrase was "Hide and Watch". Dad, where are we going? Hide and watch. Dad, can we stop for a donut and chocolate milk? Hide and watch. Dad, are we there yet? Hide and watch. We also got Monicals Pizza every Sunday night for dinner, always sausage, his choice. Dad always made us eat ALL of the outside pieces before anyone could have an inside piece... what was that about? And we all wonder where my structured, anal retentive nature comes from.
My Dad has taught me a lot of things. There of course is the whole work ethic, know the value of a dollar thing, stand up for what you believe in stuff. But some of the best things he taught me were about the St. Louis Cardinals, and the perfection that was Jack Buck's voice bringing the game to you. I was 12 in 1982 when the Cardinals won the World Series. That summer my Dad taught me what a suicide squeeze play is in baseball... as far as I am concerned, it is still the most exciting play in the game. We didn't really go to many Cardinal games growing up, but I love going to them now, my Dad taught me that. These days I take him to Cardinal games. He has a bad knee and a bad back and it probably is a lot more comfortable for him to watch at home, but he never turns down a trip to the ballpark. We usually share a bag of peanuts, sometimes we will drink beer... he taught me that too. We have a system, I fly he buys, it works for us.
My Dad taught me about the Illini too. He loves the marching bands, the Marching Illini in particular. The band is his favorite part of the game, he said he learned that from his Dad. The band is one of my favorite parts of the game too... (not to worry Jake, I am really starting to like the football part too). My Dad graduated from the University of Illinois, so did I, I like that we share that.
My Dad also taught me how to check my oil and transmission fluid, and told me he would always come pick me up if my car broke down, but not if I ran out of gas... if you weren't smart enough to fill up the tank, you could walk home. To this day my car rarely has less than a 1/4 of tank of gas in it at all times. Dad taught me the value of duct tape, I once saw him repair a lawn mower handle with duct tape and broom handle. Several years ago I made a similar repair with duct tape and a wooden spoon (okay so the wooden spoon is maybe more Mom, but you get the point). Beyond checking the oil, using duct tape, and measure twice-cut once, my Dad also taught me how to call professionals too... sometimes even duct tape won't fix it.
My Dad's favorite foods are gravy, butter, dressing and pepper. If you ever happen to be his server at Red Lobster know this... bring butter with the cheddar biscuits. Make sure his salad has "double" blue cheese dressing... not "extra" but "double"... that means he wants to see two plastic cups of dressing on the side of the plate. FYI, you can hold the cucumbers on the salad, but it is okay if you forget, because if you leave them one he will give them to me, and I don't mind a little extra cucumber. Now that brings us to pepper. My Dad likes pepper, so do I. He isn't the most patient when it comes to pepper. If the pepper shaker at restaurants doesn't shake much pepper he will take the top off and tap the pepper sans lid on to his food. If I were to try this I would end up with way too much pepper on my food, but Dubya has a pretty steady hand with the lidless shaker. This has become such a thing with him, and now me that when I am out with family and most of my friends we will actually comment on the speed of pepper distribution provided by various pepper shakers and will actually say "Well this pepper shaker is/is not George Tjardes approved". I get excited about the GTA shakers, I think I might start a rating system for the pepper shakers or something.
My dad is a farmer, the only farmer I know that can sleep until noon. Yet another quality to set him apart from others, along with the fact that he is the only man I know that hates to drive. If my mom isn't driving, then it is me. My Mom is nicer when it comes to the family rule of "Driver Has Control", and when she is driving she often lets him control the radio. I am not as nice as my Mom. A number of years ago I was driving with my Dad, he changed the radio, I changed it back, he started to change it again and I said "What's the rule?", to which he replied "Driver has control." I then asked "Did you want to drive?" He said "Hell No!", and took his hand from the raidio dial.
My Dad farms with my uncle and they raise corn, soybeans, Polled Hereford cattle, and MARIJUANA! Okay so they don't raise marijuana but a couple of years ago someone cut down some of the corn in my Dad's field and planted pot there instead. They managed to harvest at least a portion of it before my cousin noticed it when he saw the tarp some of the "harvest" was wrapped up in when he was on the tractor in the field. They called the sheriff and everything to report it, it was a big deal in Gibson City. It was just kind of funny because when you think pot/weed/reefer the image of my Dad so often comes to mind.... NOT! One of the best parts of this story is that my Dad was really mad that the "drug lords" cut down several rows of his corn from the field that was going to have the best yield... "if you are going to cut down my corn grow to grow weed, why can't you cut down the corn in one of my lower yielding fields?!"
My dad and I have the same eyelids... they are droopy, just like his Dad's. We can't open our eyes really wide. So I guess if you ever decide to throw us a surprise party, you may never know if we were really surprised or not, huh?
Well that seems like a good place to stop, how can I top the pot story? Happy Birthday Dad! May the pepper shake freely :)
Editors Note: This photo is of my Dad in elementary school. I actually work with one of my Dad's former classmates at the Hall (Ted for those of you from the Hall). Anyway several years ago Ted was cleaning out some stuff and came across a box of "stuff" from elementary school an found this picture of my Dad. Rather than throw it away he brought it to me. I love this picture... in many ways my Dad still looks exactly the same as this picture... the Tjardes droopy eyelids never change.