Happy Father's Day to all you dads and granddads. I hope you all are doing your fatherly duties - kids really need that, you know. Don't forget to say "thank you" for any and all gifts (great or small) you may have received. Did you get a special dinner? Kiss the cook.
Since it is Father's Day, I will tell you about my father, Capt. Carl Semon. Since I have never written about him, I thought it was about time.
He was born July 5, 1909, on a farm back of Stanleyville, Ohio, which is outside of Marietta about 11 miles. His grandparents had emigrated from Germany before his parents were born. One great-grandmother was so upset about the move that she is said to refuse to learn English and made everyone in her household speak to her in German. Why, I don't know. We think there is a deep story there, but so far haven't uncovered it. They had a choice of getting a farm along the Muskingum River in what is now Devola or a farm up in the high hills beyond Marietta. They chose the hills because it reminded them of the home they left in Bavaria. There, both Dad and his father were born.
From stories we have heard, Dad must have been very much like the teenagers today in liking to do whatever was fun at the time. Every young, he had a car - a Ford Roadster (wish we had that today.), and so must have been popular with the young ladies at that time. He graduated from Marietta High School in the same class as Carl Broughton in the 1920's. Not every child was able to go to high school back then, so his graduation was a big thing for the family.
He and his friend, Lloyd Schultheiss, went to work on the steamships on the Great Lakes, a profession he followed most of his life. He went from being the lowest on the totem pole to captain on the ships of the US Steel Co., sailing all the Great Lakes and being on the first freighter to traverse the St. Lawrence Seaway when it was built to give the lake ships an ocean port. They carried iron ore from the Minnesota mines to the steel mills on the lower lakes. They ran nine to 10 months a year during the warm weather, then had two to three months home during the winter.
He met Mother when he came home one winter and she was boarding with his parents as she taught school at Sugar Run School in Fearing Township. They were married on Oct. 25, 1934, and she continued to teach through the years and he continued to sail for US Steel. Maybe that was the secret to their happy marriage. She often said he never, ever raised his voice at her, but he surely could to us kids when we stepped out of line.
My brother, Bill, and I spent many happy weeks at the two grandparents' farms in the summertime while Mom visited Dad on the boats. Both sets of our grandparents were as stern as Mom was about working and behaving as "children should", so we got a solid background in good ethics with no relief and little chance to get into trouble. Our twin brothers, Dan and Dave, were born in November 1944, and Dad got to come home early for the winter.
The next February, while he was still home, his father died, and since he was the only son, Grandma didn't want him to go back to the lakes. He resigned from US Steel and tried farming. That is when we moved to the hilltop farm on which I now live. Those were the lean years, but we kids didn't know it. Dad and farming just didn't hit it off, so he and Mom talked it over and he went back to U.S. Steel (and a more dependable and better paycheck) and she taught school again to get the family out of the hole.
He retired in mid 1960's and they built their dream house in south Florida and lived there until he died. Most of us kids followed them to Florida, and it was great, having family dinners and fishing trips and beach picnics and the cousins growing up in the same area. Their house was on a "sailboat" canal in Cape Coral, and they could be in the Gulf in minutes. The Shrine Club was their Country Club and they kept a busy social and church activity schedule. Gradually, as the boys and I followed our own careers, only Mom and Dad were left in Cape Coral. They missed their family being around all year, so decided to build a new house back here on the hilltop in Ohio.
Dad died the January before they planned to move. Mom missed all the kids and I was the only one in South Florida at the time, so she wanted to come back "home." She built the home they had planned and lived there until she, too, died.
When I lived in Germany, Dad and Mom came over for a visit. We "did" Europe in the three weeks they were there and we all had marvelous and funny tales to tell about that trip. Dad climbed the Leaning Pisa Tower to the very top on a cold and blistery day. I was the only one to stand outside and wave to him on each level. We had an audience with the Pope in Rome on Ash Wednesday, ate grilled lamb on one of the hills in Rome, visited the castles in Bavaria, and saw more of the continent then most folks see on a tour. In Bavaria, Dad could speak and understand everyone, which the locals loved. He looked just like them, too, so there is no doubt where his family was from. The Hofbrauhaus in Munich was a highpoint to his trip. What a wonderful time we had.
Dad was what held our family together. He loved Christmas more than any other holiday - it was when he was always able to be with the family - and after he was gone, it just wasn't the same. So now, we all have our own small holidays and just remember the past ones when all of us were together. I miss you, Dad. If there is a Heaven, and I believe there is, then I know I have a lot of family waiting for me.
If you still have your Dad, give him a big hug today, and make some memories to hold onto in the years to come. God Bless all fathers.
The following recipes are from Mom's handwritten cookbook that she used while they lived in Florida. Enjoy.
HOT GERMAN POTATO SALAD
Six medium potatoes (boiled in the jackets)
Six slices bacon
Three-fourths cup chopped onion
Two tablespoons flour
One to two tablespoons sugar
One teaspoon salt
One-fourth teaspoon pepper
One-half teaspoon celery seeds
Three-fourths cup water
One-third cup vinegar
Boil potatoes whole just until tender. Do not overcook. Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Fry bacon slowly in skillet, then drain on paper towels. Saut onion in bacon fat until golden brown. Blend in flour, sugar, salt, celery seeds and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until smooth and bubbly. Stir in water and vinegar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear, about one minute. Gently stir in potatoes and the crumbled bacon pieces. Serve hot or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Then, heat thoroughly over low heat, stirring occasionally and very gently.
NOTE: I use caraway seeds instead of celery seeds and sometimes add thin slices of kosher dill pickles.
GRACE'S MIX UP
(This is a dish Mom concocted for a meal for Dad and her.)
One package macaroni and cheese, macaroni cooked as directed on package. In a skillet, brown hamburger (1/2 to one pound). Add one stalk celery, diced, and half of a large onion, diced. Cook this mixture on low heat until the macaroni has finished cooking and is done. To the meat mixture, shake in the cheese packet, one small can tomato sauce, and one package dry Italian Salad Dressing Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat one and one-half cups milk. Add six cups shredded cabbage. Cover and cook three minutes. Make a paste of one and one-half tablespoons flour and one and one-half tablespoons butter and one-half cup cold milk. Stir into cabbage. Add one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook six minutes.
One-and-one-half lb. beef, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
Two tablespoons cooking oil
One (10 1/2 oz.) can condensed onion soup
One soup can water
One-fourth cup vinegar
One medium bay leaf
One-eighth teaspoon ground cloves
Four small carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
One small head of cabbage, quartered
One-third cup finely crushed gingersnaps
Brown beef in hot oil, and drain. Combine the soup, water, vinegar, bay leaf, and cloves in a Dutch oven. Add browned meat. Simmer, covered, one and one-half hours, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and cabbage and cook one more hour or until meat and vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables from the broth and place in serving bowl. Add to the broth the crushed gingersnaps very slowly, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. Pour over the vegetables and meat.
Pitcher of ice - pour over it an ordinary bottle of red wine, a quarter of a cup of brandy and a small bottle of club soda (10 oz.). Sweeten to taste with a quarter to half cup of sugar. Garnish with slices of apple, lemon and orange.
Three cups diced cooked chicken
One-and-one-third cup diced celery
Three tablespoons lemon juice
One cup seedless grapes
One cup toasted almonds
Mix well and chill.
One cup mayonnaise
One-eighth teaspoon pepper
One teaspoon dry mustard
One teaspoon salt
One tablespoon capers
Mix this together and mix with chicken mixture. Chill several hours. Serve on croissants or lettuce.
Contact Patty Christopher at email@example.com