Tag Archives: Dad

The 100th Anniversary of My Dad

They say the third time is a charm.  I don’t know who “they” are, but I’ve started writing two previous times, and I just got stuck.  I want to share with you about the 100th anniversary of my dad’s birth, which was November 28.  I was getting bogged down in the story, and then last night I remembered what I learned in my coach training.  Don’t get bogged down in the story.  We don’t need the story—we need to know why the story is significant.

First, he was my dad, so that has significance for me.  But, of course, not much for you.  So here are a few things that made my dad unique:

  1. My dad was an immigrant.  He was born in a German community in Romania, and when he was 10 years old, he took the voyage over the Atlantic Ocean with his mother, and four younger brothers, where they landed at Ellis Island.  After their physicals and whatever else they had to do to be admitted to the United States, his aunt met them in New York, and they took a train to St. Louis, Missouri, where they met up with his father, who had prepared for their arrival.

    ANDREW NOTHUM PASSPORT 1930

    The Passport Photo

  2. My dad was the oldest of eight children, with seven boys born, before his sister was born.  I think that made him a born leader.  His mother required the boys to wash windows and scrub floors on a consistent basis.  Not only was their home clean, these boys didn’t have a lot of time for mischief, although, my dad did tell a few stories of boyhood mischief.  He also learned a good work ethic.

    Grandma & N clan

    The only photo I have of all the children with their grandmother.  Photo taken approximately 1939 or 1940.

  3. My dad worked for two defense contractors (Curtis Wright and McDonnell Aircraft) Andrew Nothum Army Pvtbefore being drafted into the army during World War 2.  He was a noncombatant, and served as a medic.  His basic training was in Miami Beach, Florida.  He was there for 18 months.  He then was sent to Spokane, Washington, and Riverside, California until he was deployed to New Guinea in the Pacific, where he was stationed until the end of the war.  I don’t know a lot about his army days, but he always thought that young men needed to serve time in the military because it would make a boy into a man (whatever that means).
  4. He was an entrepreneur, and started his construction business in the early 1950’s.  Most of his family of brothers were “self-made men,” who like my dad, “didn’t play well with other children,” and became their own bosses as business owners.  Not only were he and his brothers business owners, they were very successful in their careers.  The American dream was alive and well with this family.  They worked hard to accomplish all that they did.  My dad started small and grew, from park buildings, to  homes, and then to commercial buildings with his specialties being schools and churches.  One can still drive around the St. Louis area and see many of the buildings he constructed.
  5. My dad was complicated, and not an easy person.  I don’t know if it was because of his first ten years in Romania, his being an immigrant and teased at school, or what, but he was not an easy person.  His life focused on business more than anything.  He worked long hours, and because of that, was not involved in his daughters’ lives, such as school functions.  As long as my mom ran the house well, he was hands off in most of our upbringing.  I wish I had a dad more involved, but I did have a dad who supported us well.  We were well fed, had a really nice shelter over our heads, and he paid for our college educations.  I am not complaining at all, but balance would have been nice.

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    The only photo I have of our whole family together, circa 1958

  6. My dad mellowed as he got older.  He was widowed at age 74.  He once commented to me that he would not have known how to cook and clean if my mom had not been sick for years.  It was skills he ignored in his young adulthood, which he had to learn later.  Well, maybe his mother, back in the day, taught him the cleaning skills, but he taught himself to be a pretty decent cook.
  7. When I look at photographs of my dad and his family, I am struck at how handsome
    Mathias N 17 yrs

    My dad’s father

    these brothers and their dad were.  I was told that my grandmother called it the “Nothum Curse” because women were always attracted to these handsome men.  There is a “Nothum look” that I cannot explain, but I see photos of cousins and their kids, and most of the boys have these handsome Nothum features.  I think it’s the eyes.

  8. I argued with my dad—a lot.  He was stubborn, and so am I.  We did not see the world the same way.  He had in his head what I should have been, and it was unspoken, but it was spoken when I wasn’t what he thought I should be.  There was a period of time where I didn’t like him at all.  I didn’t think he had my best interests in mind.  Maybe I needed to go into the military so I could have grown up faster.  Over the years I realized that in his way, he had my best in mind.  He didn’t know how to kindly share his dreams for his daughters, and was good at telling us what we did wrong instead of praising us for what we did right, but all in all, he really did want the best for us.  As I have gotten older, I have forgiven him for not being able to express that to us.

My dad passed away in 2010.  He was a few months over 90 years old.  He remarried after my mom died.  He was married to my mom for 53 years, and his second marriage lasted for eleven years until his death.  He moved to Arizona after my mom’s death, where two of his brothers lived.  He outlived those two brothers.  In fact, he outlived all but the three youngest siblings.  

What did I learn from this man?  Some lessons were learned through the negative example, and others through the positive example.

  1. I learned that positive words to my children build up their spirits, rather than telling them what they do wrong.  They, as I did, know what we do wrong.  We don’t need to beat ourselves up any more than what we already do to ourselves.  Because of continually feeling judged by him, I committed to myself to love my children unconditionally.  I don’t always agree with them or their choices, but that does not change my love for them.
  1. Working hard will bring its rewards.  My dad was poor as a child.  He worked hard, started his own business building bathrooms in parks, until he was a player in the commercial building business.  
  1. My dad was self taught—he only went through the 8th grade.  He was smart, and never quit learning.  We had a set of World Book Encyclopedias in our home when I was in grade school.  Every so often he would tell me to go to the bookshelf a pull the letter “B” or another letter of the alphabet—that’s how the encyclopedias were.  Everything you ever wanted to know about anything that started with that letter was in that particular book.  He would sit and read the whole book.IMG_0006
  2. My dad had a crazy sense of humor.  I think along with looking like his side of the family, I got his off the wall humor.  I don’t particularly remember any jokes he told, but he could always make everyone laugh at his antics.

     

  3. My dad was good at carrying through most promises he made, except for the little stuff he told us as kids.  It may not seem like much, but my dad promised two things we never saw.  The first one was a swing set, and the second one was a playhouse.  He was a building contractor and he would draw pictures of
    08/1978

    My son proudly on his swing set.

    a playhouse, and we would ohh and ahh over the drawings and promises in our heads, but those two things never happened.  When I had my first child, my sister reminded me of the swing set promise, and said she made dad honor it, so I called and asked for the swing set.  The next thing I knew, we had a swing set in our back yard.  I learned if I tell my children if I am going to do something, I just better do it.  Sometimes, I waited to the last minute, because I didn’t want to promise them anything I couldn’t deliver.  So, if I planned a special outing, I didn’t talk about specific plans until I knew we could make them.  I hope I was 100% consistent at this, but I may not have been.  I did my best, and still try to do my best with my kids and grandkids to deliver on my promises.

It is hard to believe if my parents were still alive, my mom would be 101, and my dad would be 100. I have become the “old” person now that they are gone.  That’s such an odd feeling.  Yesterday I was young, and then I woke up and wasn’t!  I still wonder how these years went so quickly.  

I don’t know what my family will say about me when I am gone.  I don’t know if I will have the privilege to become a centenarian.  I don’t know if I will depart this earth much sooner than that.  I just know our parents have an impact on our lives way past their departure.  I suggest to you, as I continually ask myself, what am I leaving for my kids and grandkids to remember about me?  Does my behavior teach them lessons in a positive or negative way?  Something to think about . . . .

FastFoto_2350

The only photo with just me and my dad.

Who’s Your Daddy?

With this being Father’s Day weekend, I thought I would talk about dads. My dad and I had a difficult relationship. As a child I was afraid of him. He was tall and big and his voice boomed. He worked a lot owning his own business, and he was tough. As a teenager and through college, I disliked him.

Andrew Nothum

Andrew Nothum

He had some tough rules that I thought were really more strict than they should be. He had two favorite lines he would tell us girls. The first was, “When your feet are under my table, you do what I say.” The other was, “What is good for Bullmoose is good for the nation. I am Bullmoose, and you are the nation.” He meant them both!

Over the years, we rocked back and forth in our difficult relationship. In his late years, I made peace with who he was. I made peace knowing that he was a flawed individual, and he loved the best he could. It wasn’t always how I wanted to be loved and cared for by my dad, but he did love and care for me, up until he took his last breath in April of 2010 at the age of 90.

My dad, Andrew Nothum, was born in a German community in Romania in 1919. He was the oldest child of Barbara and Mathias Nothum. My grandfather traveled between Romania and the United States several times between the age of 15 and until the whole family settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

Passport 1929

The first passport photo.  Barbara Nothum with her 4 boys, L-R: Joseph, Mathew, Emil, and Andrew

In Romania, my dad lived in a house with dirt floors. At that time his family was Catholic, and he served as an alter boy pumping the church organ for Mass. In 1928, Grandma got all her children dressed up for a passport photo and applied to come to the United States. She had four little boys. Unfortunately, the quota for immigrants from Romania had been met and they had to wait. My grandfather continued to travel back home to be with his family.

passport

2nd Passport photo.  Barbara Nothum with her 5 boys, L-R: Andrew, Mathew, Michael, Emil, and Joseph

The following year, Grandma was ready to bring her boys to the U.S. She now had five, yes, I said five little boys! By the time the family was complete, my dad would be the oldest of seven boys, with a sister as the youngest child. The last three children were born in the United States.

In 1929, not having yet sold their home, Grandma and my 10 year old dad took a trip to a neighboring town, about 7 miles from their home. They traveled by foot, then a ferry across a river, and walked to find a man they were told about from Detroit, Michigan. Since their home had not yet sold, she went to borrow money from him to bring herself and her children to the United States to join my grandfather. This man lent her $400 (equivalent today of almost $6,000), which they did pay back in full, according to my dad.

atc204

A brochure for the ship the Nothum family came on, The Bremen, arriving in 1930.

Grandma and her five little boys left Sekeschut, Romania, traveled by train to Arad, Hungary, then to Vienna, Austria and their final destination of Bremen, Germany, where they sailed out on the maiden voyage of the ocean liner Bremen. From the time the ship was out of sight of land, my grandmother got sea sick, and my 10 year old dad took care of all his little brothers until they saw land again. They came in through Ellis Island in early 1930. My grandmother stated of her experience on the ship upon seeing the Statue of Liberty, “Everyone on the ship stopped what we were doing and gazed at the Statue of Liberty. People were crying, the tears streamed down my face. There was silence on the ship and it seemed no one talked, we just cried and gazed at the statue.”
When my dad arrived in St. Louis, he and his brother, Joe, enrolled in school. Dad knew two words in English, “gum” and “pencil” — very important words to know in school. He was demoted from 4th grade to 3rd grade because he did not yet speak English. Fortunately, his teacher could also speak German and Hungarian, so when she gave the class instructions, while they were working, she walked to his desk and gave the instructions in German. My dad did well in math because it is the same in any language. He and Joe went to summer school in 1929 in order to learn English. Being big for his age, when he was bullied by the others calling him “Germany,” it only took a couple times of my dad walloping them that the bullying stopped!

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Andrew Nothum

Dad dropped out of high school his freshman year to help support his large family. He worked at the family grocery store. Although, it was not a very profitable venture for the family, it did feed their family well, and they sold it a few years later.

Andrew married my mom in 1942. He met her at church. Dad was working for Curtis Wright Aircraft and had a draft deferment working at a defense contractor. When that deferment was up, he moved on to McDonnell Aircraft. McDonnell Aircraft later became McDonnell Douglas, and then

Mom'swedding1942

Wedding photo: Andrew and Dorothy Tomich Nothum

in 2000 was purchased by Boeing. He was employed as a foreman until the deferment by McDonnell was up, and he was drafted into the army. He served as a Private 1st Class in the 1892 Engineer Aviation Battalion of the Army Air Corp.

Andrew Nothum Army Pvt

Andrew Nothum

Dad was a conscientious objector and served as a non-combatant medic. That meant he served without carrying a weapon. It was the stance of the church he belonged to in his youth. He spent seven months of basic training in Miami Beach, Florida, where he worked in a medical office and drove an ambulance. He then served in Spokane, Washington, and Riverside, California, and then saw action when he was sent to New Guinea where his unit built airstrips.

When Dad came home from the army he continued working for McDonnell Douglas, and in the early 1950’s he started his own business, Nothum Bros. Construction Company. He began by building bathrooms in parks, built the homes that surround the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, and by the time I was an adult, he was building schools and churches all over the St. Louis area. He also purchased a company from one of his brothers, Emil, who designed and patented a machine that rolled out the seamless gutters that you put on your house. Most people in St. Louis who have seamless gutters on their homes had them manufactured by a Grover Machine Company roll forming gutter machine.

My dad was a shrewd business man. He was tough at work and tough at home. I did not really appreciate how hard he worked until I was older.

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Andrew Nothum 2009

I wanted a dad who cared about my education and the activities I was involved with at school. That was not him. He never attended parent/teacher conferences, looked at a single report card, or attended any activity that I participated in at school. Because he was successful without an education, I don’t think he recognized the importance of education in those days. When I received my Masters of Business Administration degree in 1991, he told me he was proud of me. That was big.

I wanted my dad to be loving and affectionate with my children. That was not him. He was when they were babies, but as they grew older, he grew more distant.

I wanted my dad to call me often just to see how I was. He never did that until after my mom died in 1995. The first time he called without an “agenda” I wasn’t sure about how to take that. I got used to his later years of calling me just to know what was going on. That was nice.

He was tough and he was hard. But he was my dad. I was with him shortly before he died. He outlived my mom by 15 years. We made our peace. He is my dad. I do love him. Forgiving him freed me to love and respond to others at a much greater degree.

Fabulous-Happy-Fathers-Day-WishesHappy Father’s Day to all you dads. Let your children know you love them through thick and thin—even if you don’t like what they are up to at the time. Kids need to hear this over, and over, and over.

If you have the ideal dad, count your blessings. Let him know how much you love and appreciate him for his love for you. For those of you who do not have the ideal dad, remember, he, like the rest of us human beings, is not perfect. They are flawed, some are very flawed. Forgive him. It will make your life so much better. Let him know you love him through thick and thin—even if you don’t like what he is up to at the time. Dads need to hear this also.

If you have a difficult relationship with your dad, or your dad is gone, and you had a difficult relationship with him, work on forgiving him. It makes such a difference in your life when you forgive. It frees you up to live a life without regret. Start today . . . .

Happy Father’s Day!