Setting the Record Straight (Or When “True But Not Always Factual” Won’t Do)

Tom Brown transition

My father, the fact checker!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a visit I’d had with my dad.  When it comes to writing about family, I tend to follow the dictum that I first used in It’s a Wonderful Life (For Tom Brown on His 90th Birthday) back in July. In that post, I listed 90 things about the wonderful life of my father and included the caveat that these were “all true, even if they are not all factual.”

Well, I guess that wasn’t good enough for my father!  As an engineer, he likes things precise.

So earlier this week I received an email from my dad entitled, “More to Come, editing.”

I had recounted a story I’ve heard many times before.

My parents were part of the post-war (WWII) marriage boom that begat the well-documented baby boom.  Both were from the small town of Franklin, located about 20 miles from Nashville.  My father had just graduated from Vanderbilt and he and my mom were married in the First Baptist Church in Franklin.  Before beginning his life-long career with the Tennessee Valley Authority, my father and his new bride had a honeymoon to take.

Luckily, they had relatives (my father’s sister) in Chicago, so they came to Union Station – like so many honeymooners, soldiers, businessmen (in those days), and families before them – and boarded a train bound for Chicago.  I’ve heard stories my entire life about the plays they saw in the city, visiting Wrigley Field to see the Cubs (that must have been how I got those baseball genes), and so much more.  But the stories always begin with that train ride from Union Station.

I got the story wrong (at least factually) on two counts.  Here’s the edit from my father:

David, I began working for TVA before Helen and I married. (Mother pounded in my head “you don’t get married until you can support a wife.”)  I was in a TVA  training program first in Chattanooga when we got engaged, and then in Columbia for field training when we got married.  Our first apartment was in Columbia at Mrs. Cooks on 7th Ave., now torn down. We did go to Chicago on our honeymoon.

Mary Dixie’s (my father’s sister) next door neighbors, the Standards, took us to Cominsky Park, on July 4th to see the White Sox play the St. Louis Browns. It was windy and cold.  Mrs. Stanard made some newspaper capes to break the wind. We went to Wrigley Field on later visits to Dixie & Howard’s. The Stanards also furnished us a meal.

I love both of these accounts.  My Grandmother was a very smart woman, and to tell my father that you don’t take on responsibilities until you can handle them adds to my understanding of her worldview. And then to hear that mom and dad went to old Cominsky Park to see a team (the St. Louis Browns) that had players named Ribs, Snuffy, Cuddles, and Stubby takes me back to another era.

So – in the spirit of Joe Friday – there you have them:  Just the facts, ma’am.

More to come…

DJB

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