A Tribute to My Dad

My dad's 1969 driver's license that I keep in my Bible.  The only thing I own that belonged to him.
My dad’s 1969 Louisiana driver’s license.

Antonio “Dub” Hollier

I always end my articles with a verse from the Bible, but I will begin this article with verse from the book of Proverbs.  

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6. 

A Simple Man for Simple Times

This Bible verse is fitting for my dad. My dad didn’t teach me a whole lot about how to survive in this modern world I find myself living in. He was a simple man with simple needs and wants. However, he did teach me how to love people. He loved to talk and would talk to anybody he ran into. Guess who inherited that?

My dad passed away on November 14, 1972 of heart failure. Antonio was 82 at the time I was born in Opelousas, Louisiana in 1890. He spoke French and had only a seventh grade education. He was a carpenter by trade, but some of the houses that he built are still standing today in Southwest Louisiana as a testament to his skill. My dad was much older than my mom, and was 52 when I was born. I wanted to pay homage to him this Father’s Day by telling some stories about him. I think I got blue eyes from his side of the family, but most importantly, I credit my love of storytelling to him.

Cajun Bon-Vivant

I was born in LeCompte (pronounced LaCount, near Alexandria) Louisiana in July 1941. My dad would always tease me about how big my feet were when I was born. I wasn’t that big of a baby at 7 pounds and 20 inches long, but a newborn wearing a size 3 shoe did stand out. My dad took one look at my paddles and told my mom, “Well, Tiny, I think I’ll go home and get my rubber boots because I don’t think he’ll be wearing these baby booties.” My dad told this story dozens of times, each time with a hearty laugh and Cajun French accent.

A Self-Taught Carpenter

One of his favorite stories was about school. He would laughingly tell us, “I got kicked out of the second grade for not shaving.” My dad enjoyed telling these same stories over and over again as much as I enjoyed hearing them over and over again.

He was a carpenter by trade his whole life. He didn’t make much money but he managed to provide for us. Carpenters back then did not have labor saving tools such as hammer guns to make the job easier. My dad put houses together piece by piece and nail by nail. Each board was cut and nailed into place. There were no pre-fab structures and no extra men were hired for the roofing. He did that and did it shingle by shingle, nail by nail. Sometimes, he would have to stop working to come down a ladder and haul a few bundles of shingles back up to the roof. I was proud when I got old enough to take that job. It gave me a little taste of how hard this labor intensive job was.  

My dad would do all these things and would still have a sense of humor and joie de vivre that made it a pleasure to work with him. Dad didn’t let the job control him, he controlled the job.

He never went to a draftsman to have blueprints made of what he was building. There were no draftsmen in the town where we lived. He would get himself a few well-sharpened #2 pencils, a ruler and paper he was drawing on. The only thing he asked of my older sister and I was to hold down the noise a bit. He never fussed if he made a mistake. He simply would erase it and do it over.

Merry Mischief-Maker

Looking back, I am very impressed at his skill and knowledge for a man with little formal education. He could figure out algebra but he was never taught it. He played several musical instruments and was a pretty good singer.

I never heard him complain about anything, even when he would have to help me with my schoolwork. His favorite thing to do was to tease people who didn’t understand Cajun French. He would say some things to them and just laugh.

My point is that, even though my dad wasn’t educated, he was smart and wasn’t afraid to tackle anything. My dad was fun to be around and he enjoyed the people who were around him. He loved people, and for the most part, people loved him back.

A Man of the Arts

He told us ghost stories from when he was a child and wrote a poem for my sister that won first place in a school contest. He was a songwriter, a builder, a singer and a bon vivant (a man who loved people and life). Most of all, he was a kind and gentle man who would help anyone.

I miss my dad, but I know he is in a better place. I didn’t have him for many years because he died while I was still a young man. 

Cherish Your Time Together

Enjoy your dad and don’t compare him to other dads. Love him because he is yours. We all have our attributes and faults. We are human. Tell him on Father’s Day what he means to you, and do it often while you can. Don’t wait for the day when you have to look at the sky and pray to tell him.

I wish all the fathers out there that you have a happy Father’s Day. Take time to have fun and enjoy your family today and the 364 other days this year. 

God Bless,

David

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