By Doug Peterson, writing about his dad Andy.
If you were to get into my father’s car, unlike so many vehicles, you wouldn’t find spare change in the ash tray or any of the little cubbies so common in cars. My dad had this little change purse that you would squeeze to open and put your pennies, nickels, etc. in it. I still remember it; it was green plastic and branded from the Credit Union “Not for profit, not for charity, but for service”.
It always seemed strange because nobody else did that. But, when we would buy something, he’d be able to pull out that thing and pay for whatever it was in the exact change. That was always impressive. I suppose it was consistent with the old adage, “Take care of the little things and the big thing will take care of themselves”.
My dad had a number of different positions with the bank but ended up permanently working as the treasurer for a Credit Union. It eliminated the transfers and moving that were so common.
I think he was successful because he never overlooked any detail. Just like the small change, every detail was addressed. It’s a trait that I’ve always admired; he was never caught out of place. So many memories surround these details.
We had books and everything was accounted for. Monthly financial statements were always checked (I don’t ever recall finding any mistake in our favour). I learned how to do my income tax manually with him. I learned his procedures for checking and double-checking everything. The arithmetic was always done manually and then we checked it with a calculator. I had every intention of becoming an accountant when I went to university but somehow mathematics / computer science took my attention. I tried to keep them all going but it was too much to juggle.
We played so many sports as a family. He was a lefty for just about everything. I ended up being a bit mixed. We had a family membership at a golf course and he and I shared a set of left-handed clubs. That was, until a new rule came in that said everyone had to have their own club, and I had to buy my own. Right-handed clubs were cheaper in the catalogue so I switched. My game went downhill from there. But I still play hockey and baseball left-handed.
In the side yard, we’d often played catch. Word was that he might have been able to have a career in pitching and we knew why. When we’d catch a baseball thrown by him, our hands would go immediately numb from impact, he threw so hard. When we would beg to play with a tennis ball, it was a different type of pain. He could throw curve balls and sinkers that seemed like they were falling off the edge of a table. He was self-taught from a book “How to Pitch” by Bob Feller and practiced, practiced, practiced.
Family was everything to him. We weren’t allowed to overlook any details there. We were reminded by him about holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. and we were expected to observe them appropriately. There was nothing hidden about this from my mother; we would make it known that we were going with Dad to buy presents. I suppose it was his work at the Credit Union, but we were expected to be on top of what was going on so that we could make an informed gift purchase!
Going to post-secondary education was important. So important that, we were expected to put away some of our allowance into an account to use it some day! Ultimately, it came up short but things could have been worse.
Maybe it was the credit union philosophy or just him but I remember asking him once why he went overboard in support for a friend who was starting an endeavour. “You do good when you make others look better”. I’ll never forget that and try to live up to it all the time.
Probably the most revealing thing that you can tell about people are their nicknames growing up. I still remember Swannie, Titter, Beaner, Paulie, … My nickname was his name “Andy”. It’s still humbling when I think about it.
Oh, and I have a little change purse in my own car these days. The pennies have been replaced by one dollar coins but I don’t rattle when I take a curve.