Page 73 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. CraneI would not be being doing my father justice if I did not mention that he was self-taught. When he left his home in Spring Valley, Illinois, he told me that he got as far as the 3rd Grade. My mother would respond, “If that.” Never-the-less, my mother told me that whenever she returned home from work riding on the street car in the summertime, my father would be waiting on her at the stop by sitting under a tree reading a book. He once told me that he spent a lot of time reading in the library. He knew the history of the Peloponnesian Wars, and could even name the generals both in the Greek and Roman armies. Most importantly, he read and often quoted from the Bible. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Another was, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Most importantly was that he often said, “A man is only as good as his word.” Time and time again, he reminded me of that. What really impressed me was his analytical abilities. I would often have to go to him to seek out possibilities whether they be mechanical, philosophical, or otherwise. Always, he had an answer and in some cases it was just a matter or right or wrong. If I were ever placed in a box, so to speak, and there was no way out. He would say, “Well, you did the best that you could. It looks like you have no alternative.” This often gave me peace of mind.As luck would have it, I was struck with a number of accidents and an illness that almost cost me my life. I contracted Lobar Pneumonia, which is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, at the age of 3. I spent a week in a coma and suffered deliriums and finally passed through the crisis thanks to my mother and grandmother and the doctor who provided me home visits. This was in 1936 and in-patient hospital care was few and far between in those days. Another time, I fell from a tree and my arm was so badly injured that the doctor thought that they might have to amputate it, as the nerves were so badly damaged. My father rocked me all night long while I was in excruciating pain and sang me lullabies. We had to do this because there was only one orthopedic surgeon available who could save my arm, as the original hospital that treated me had set my arm wrong and placed it in what one could only call a medieval metal torture cast that screwed down with wing nuts. The surgeon threw it in the garbage. This happened at the age of 6 in 1939. One time, my father took me to the beach at Lake Michigan. As he sat in the sand, I played next to the water and all of a sudden a seiche came up and took me away. A seiche is similar to wave at high tide and it can come up quite unexpectedly. When my father looked up he saw me trapped in a wave and dove in and rescued me. He laid me on my stomach in the sand and pumped my lungs of all the water as I choked and gagged.As I look back, I seem to think these series of events might have triggered something in my father as he started to give up gambling. My parents had already divorced in 1936, when I was 3, and his gambling was probably one of the reasons. I believe that he had some sort of awakening or epiphany because he withdrew from gambling and where I73

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