Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Dad - Fred Seaver (1911-1983)

My father, Fred W. Seaver, was born in Leominster MA in 1911, the fifth of seven children, six of whom lived to retirement age. From the accounts of his siblings, he was a rambunctious kid, always playing practical jokes, teasing his older sisters, and was not a very good student. He loved all sports and played baseball, basketball and football in school, and attended Dartmouth for a year in the 1930's on a baseball scholarship, but he injured his knee and the family couldn't afford tuition. He did odd jobs around Leominster in the 1930's during the Depression and lived with his married sisters some of the time.

In late 1940, Fred left Leominster and drove three days across the country, showing up at the home of his aunt Emily Taylor in San Diego. He boarded with them for awhile, then got an apartment of his own. Soon, Fred met his cousin's junior high school art teacher, Betty Carringer, and they dated. They married in 1942 and settled down in Chula Vista. Both of them worked at Rohr Corp in Chula Vista during the war. He went into the Navy in mid-1944 and returned in early 1946.

They had three children, Randy (1943), Stan (1946) and Scott (1955). We lived in a second story flat on 30th Street in San Diego on property owned by Betty's parents. Fred got a job as an insurance agent working for Prudential in 1947. Our first family vacation was to Bass Lake near Yosemite Park in 1954. He was an avid bowler and was in several top leagues in San Diego well into his 50's. We also took several vacations to bowling tournaments in California during the 1950's.

We had a traditional 1950's family home environment - Dad worked, puttered and read, Mom shopped, cooked, washed, cleaned, and took care of the kids. Dad did a lot of his insurance work at home so he was often home when we came home from school. We enjoyed our cats and played ping-pong, whiffle ball and basketball games on the brick patio in back. We played word games at the dinner table and board games and card games before TV really took over the evenings. We also had Lionel model trains that ran throughout the house and we spent many evenings over many years racing engines and trying to bash them together. Competition was a big thing for all of us.

Dad's real passion was baseball - he was a lifetime Red Sox fan, hated the Yankees, and supported the local San Diego Padres. Youth baseball became his life - he wanted the family to have a baseball star. I never played in a league due to my physical limitations (small, weak, scared, eyes). He managed my brothers Little League, Pony League and Colt League teams as they grew up, and was a successful, competitive and aggressive coach and manager. When my brothers played high school ball, he went to the games. However, they didn't go any further with baseball. We all disappointed him in this regard.

I left home in 1966 after my college graduation. Stan went into the Air Force in 1966, leaving Scott in the house with Mom and Dad. I visited often and talked sports and politics with Dad.

In 1971, he had an accident in the workshop and lost two fingers. He retired in 1972 after 25 years of work at Prudential. They got Charger season tickets during the 1970's (a real bad time for Bolt fans!), but he was always frustrated by their play.

My wife and I had two daughters, and Stan and Scott each had one, born in the 1970's. Four girls - cute, happy and fun, but girls. Dad was disappointed that there would be no star baseball player named Seaver from his family.

Mom's parents died in 1976 and 1977, and she inherited their house on Point Loma. They moved there in 1978 and he became very protective of her and the property, almost reclusive. In 1982, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had an operation and radiation. He died in 1983 of a heart attack (watching a Lakers game on TV at the hospital) that resulted from complications from the surgery. He and Mom are buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay.

Growing up I thought the world of my Dad - he was big, strong, smart, competitive, worked with his hands well, loved sports, especially baseball and bowling. He demanded respect, and was a stern disciplinarian, not very sympathetic to our complaints, and not patient with our failings. My brothers got the brunt of it - I tried to stay out of his way as a teen and young adult.

Needless to say, I struggled over the years with my relationship with my Dad. I realized long ago that he was a pretty normal human being, with wants, needs, cares, worries, strengths and weaknesses. I appreciate his example - and tried to emulate his good traits in my life as a coach, employee, husband and parent. The bad traits? Let's just say that I learned how to overcome most of them.

The thing that I appreciate most about him now is his fantastic New England and English ancestry. Mayflower passengers, colonial governors, a poetess, some Revolutionary War soldiers, and a whole bunch of hard working tradesmen, farmers and housekeepers. It's kept me busy for 18 years now.

Thank you Dad - for teaching me right from wrong, encouraging me to get an education and work hard, and for providing a stable home to grow up in.


Lee said...

That was beautiful, Randy!

Anonymous said...

Your Dad would be very proud