The Original Sam the Butcher

by POPSIE 1956

With Father’s Day coming up, and since I have to give equal coverage after writing about my mom, it’s time for a few words about my old man.

Sam WAS a butcher, in fact, although he preferred the title “meat cutter.”

And when you saw the scars on his hands, you immediately knew the meat being cut wasn’t a sirloin steak.

I got my sense of humor from my mom, from my dad, the accident proneness.

Not a week went by when I didn’t see a new band aid on one of his fingers.

Actually, if I remember right, it was because of one of those nasty cuts that Sam found out he was diabetic.

Yup, another thing we have in common.

Back in the mid ’60’s, it was MUCH more difficult to treat diabetes.

I first learned about it from a little girl who lived next door who had Type 1.

The word “diatetic” was much more common than “sugar free”.

Sam was in his early fifties when he was told he was Type 2.

That meant a change in lifestyle for him, and us.

He tried to eat right, but he was always sickly thin..THAT part I did NOT get from him.

I was a latch key kid, so I got home before him, my mom also worked, and she came home later.

One of my “duties” was to help my dad with a snack when he came home.

The same thing every day; a banana and a small serving of pig’s feet.

In the jar with the gel.

Looking back, it wasn’t healthy, but it paid the rent, so to speak.

One thing I did pick up from Sam, and I’m not proud of it, is his temper.

The smallest thing would set him off.

Let me stop for a moment, not once did he ever lay a hand to my mom or me.

When I was punished, however, I got “the belt,” but so did most other kids at the time.

I think there’s still a mark on my ass.

Behavior like that wouldn’t be tolerated today, and while I don’t advocate for it, I really don’t believe in “time outs” either.

Just sayin’.

For such a little man (see the picture below, that’s me with Sam when I was nine months old), he was like a bull in a china shop.

Sam wouldn’t care how big you were, or how much of a bully you were, he could, or at least he always thought, he could take you.

Two incidents always stick out pertaining to this character trait of Sam’s.

One was a day, while waiting at a red light; Sam behind the wheel, my mom next to him, me in the back seat, we got dinged by a driver, minor damage to the car, but enough for Super Sam to kick in.

He got out of the car with fire in his eyes!

The other driver was AT LEAST twice his size, but Sam was ready to chop him down.

I believe the other driver was lucky the cops got there when they did.

The other time was in the neighborhood, my folks got me a new Stingray bike.

One of the neighbor kids who always picked on me, took it from me, and started popping wheelies.

Till the handlebars broke.

I walked it home, and when Super Sam saw it, he knew what happened.

He took the broken bike, raised it over his head, and had me take him to this kid’s house.

Sam comes up to the kid’s father, grabs him by the shirt, and LIFTS him in the air(again, this guy was much bigger than Sam), demanding action be taken!

The next day, a brand new bike, better than the last.

The other kid never bothered me again, either.

I wish I had more time with Sam.

He died at 56, when I was 13, mostly from a series of heart attacks that day that doctors just couldn’t stop.

His last words to me were “I’ll be OK pal.”

He always called me pal.

For some reason, and it didn’t start intentionally, I call my oldest grandson Chris “Pally.”

Sam would like that.

One more thing about him, and this is creepy.

About three months after he died, in the middle of the night, I had a dream that he was in the living room, having a drink in his chair and smoking a Camel.

I woke up, and thought it was real.

I ran from my bedroom to the living room; at the same time, my mom ran out of HER room, she had the SAME dream.

And as we stood there, we both smelled smoke.

But my mom Marie never smoked cigarettes, and it would be a few years before I did (I have since quit).

I like to think that was Sam checking in to say “I’m OK pal.”