My father made me wear hand-me-downs – even though I was our family’s only boy, with five sisters.
It wasn’t too bad most of the year, but Easter Sunday was a bear. You know how hard it is to outrun the neighborhood bully with your panty hose bunching up and your bonnet flopping in the wind?
My father was born during the Depression, in 1933, when life was a lot tougher. When he was only 3, his father, who had a good job working for the Mellon family, died at age 34.
My father and his sister and mother moved from a nice home into a cramped apartment in the city. Without a father to nurture him, and with his mother at work all day, he had to fend for himself.
Bigger kids bullied him – until he fought back. Money was tight, so he scrimped and saved and set some aside for rainy days. Unsavory people tried to cheat him, so he developed the street smarts that guide him still.
He longed for a family of his own and, more than 50 years ago, at age 23, he married my mother. They never gave my sisters and me material wealth, but we had an abundance of other riches. So strong was their love, devotion and stability, optimism came naturally to all of us.
Oddly, my optimistic childhood proved to be a source of worry for my father. He…