My Father

When I posted my piece about my callsign in Vietnam, TG-3, I mentioned that my father forged checks against my bank account. A reader found that hard to believe. Here’s the full story.

My father was a lawyer in Oakland, California. When I was twelve or so, he sent my mother and me on a trip across country to West Virginia to visit her mother and family. We came home on a luxurious train trip through Canada.

Years later, I found out that my father got the money to pay for that trip by embezzling $40,000 from one of his clients. He was indicted and convicted, debarred from practicing law, and spent the next few years in prison. We lost everything—our house, the cars, our savings. My mother and I moved to the Oakland slums where we rented a small flat. She got a job as a telephone saleswoman in a jewelry store. Her dependence on alcohol became more pronounced.

When my father got out of prison, he lived with us and became a bum. As far as I know, he never, in those years, had a regular job of any kind. Shortly thereafter, he went back to prison. I don’t know what for.

I honestly don’t remember how many times he was imprisoned. From my early teenage years on, I became more and more self-reliant. My mother became completely addicted to alcohol. I was forced to take care of myself. In my teens, I had part time jobs as a paperboy, working as a delivery boy for various stores, and waiting on customers. I went to college at the University of California in Berkeley because I could afford the tuition. I worked twenty hours a week while in school and did the best I could to avoid my father.

More next time.

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