Honoring my father on his 100th birthday
Tuesday, January 09, 2018
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My dad now lives in Santa Maria, Calif., a picturesque city of a little over 100,000 people near the coast about 70 miles north of Santa Barbara. He lives by himself, but he’s seldom alone, having a great circle of friends and neighbors. Physically he feels great but, as a performing pianist, he wishes he had a gig scheduled for tonight. He still keeps in shape by lifting weights and often going to the mall for long walks. He’s also looking forward to his next birthday. On Jan. 11 my Dad will be celebrating his 100th birthday. And what stories he could tell!
Dad’s parents emigrated from Czechoslovakia early in the last century and settled in New York City, where he was the firstborn, followed by a younger brother. In 1939, he became the first in his family to achieve a college education, graduating from Manhattan College with a degree in biology. During World War II he was a B-24 bomber pilot in the Army Air Corps, completing 35 combat missions over Germany and France, and earning five Air Medals. As a kid, I remember asking him about his experiences but, like so many combat veterans, he would downplay his own role, saying things like, “I think we killed a lot of cows.” When I pressed him for more, he finally admitted that he had fought with Eisenhower, Patton and MacArthur. I was very impressed until he added, with a smile, “I just didn’t get along with anybody.” So much for the sense of humor I undoubtedly inherited and can still blame him for.
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Ferenz, John Sr. [MC1939]
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