Fathers serve an important role in children’s lives, and we often have fond memories of our childhoods revolving around the antics of our dads. My dad was a notorious prankster, and was always doing something ornery. My sister and I love to sit around reminiscing about all the silly things my dad did. He told dad jokes like nobody’s business, was always up to something, and was fanatically frugal.
This year, I wanted to write an article about all of the quirky things our dads did when we were young that they thought were saving the family money, funny phrases, and just dad stuff in general.
My father in law smells everything around him everywhere he goes. Furniture in furniture stores, basketballs in sporting goods stores, things at Walmart. He swears you can tell the quality of an item by its smell.
My dad loved to scuba dive and would find all sorts of what he called “treasures” on the bottoms of the rivers, lakes, and oceans, and bring them home to my mom, sister and me. And most of the time, we would be horrified by the condition of these items. But my dad was always so proud of every find.
Every time a boy came to my house when I was a teenager, even if they were just a friend or even in a study group, my dad would sit in the living room cleaning his shotgun. It was so embarrassing.
One day a few years back, I was helping my dad switch his info from his old phone to a new iPhone. I told him there was a place to securely keep user names and passwords for different accounts and it was then I realized my dad had about 35-40 email addresses and passwords. He had been making a new one for every single account he had online not realizing he could use the same one for all of them.
“My dad smoked when my siblings and I were growing up. My mom insisted my siblings and I couldn’t catch him. My dad used all sorts of excuses to go outside to smoke a cigarette even though my siblings and I knew that he did. He would say “I’m going outside to check the yard” or “I’m going to go check the tire pressures on the cars.” at 10 p.m. or “I’m gonna go measure the grass.”
My dad’s best friends had an indoor pool, which they taught swimming lessons and water sports out of. My dad used to call right when he knew they would both be preoccupied in the pool so a parent of one of the swim students would have to answer the heavy rotary dial phone on the table downstairs. Upon answering, he would pretend to be the water company stating that his friends had not paid their water bill and the water company was coming to repossess all their water. No matter how much Don and Mary Ann protested that it was only their prankster of a best friend, the parents were always worried that the water company was truly coming to drain the pool their children were swimming in and repossess Don and Mary Ann’s pool water.
My dad was an electrician and an inspector at a factory. The days he had to inspect the light beams, he would fill a five-gallon bucket of water and dump it on workers that weren’t paying attention to their line. He was so high above them, they never knew where it came from because when they would look up they were so blinded by the lights above them.
My dad was always trying to mess with my mom, and because he talked to anyone and everyone, in any situation, he would concoct the craziest plans. One day, he ran into a man that had a pet brown bear. He convinced the man to bring the bear to my parents’ house and tied the bear to a large tree in the yard. A bit later, my mom came home from work and. of course, spazzed out. My mom was too scared to get out of the car the entire hour my dad tried to convince her to keep the pet bear. Finally the bear’s owner walked out of their house and told my dad he needed to hit the road with “Cuddles” so they could meet up with other bear pet owners. I really thought my mom was going to strangle my dad that day.
My dad would call into Dial-A-Trade to “sell” his friends’ cars, grills, above ground pools, motorcycles, anything they had. Random people would show up at their houses looking to buy their brand new expensive grills for $50 and his friends would be so mad. They still come by to visit my dad and talk about all the stuff he “sold.”
When a boy would call my house, my dad would go knock on the “bathroom door” (in actuality any surface he could find) and say “Hey! You done in there? There’s a real nice sounding chap on the phone and you’ve been in there for a long time. You ok? I’ve heard terrible sounds coming from there. And whew! It smells terrible out here.” I would come running from my bedroom to grab the phone to do damage control if the boy was still there, but most of the time, he had already hung up.
My father in law washes out and reuses Ziplock bags. My mother in law throws the used bags away if she finds them.
My dad got tired of hearing my niece, his granddaughter, complain about wanting individually wrapped snacks in her lunch. He bought the usual groceries and then took the crappy sandwich bags that you just fold over, and put the chips, cookies, and crackers in those, making her “individual sized snacks” out of those little bags. My dad was so proud of himself, but my niece was not impressed.
My dad had a phrase — “use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without” — every time my sister and I asked for something new. We would be so frustrated by his phrase that we wouldn’t ask, buy it on our own, or just do without to avoid hearing his message. To this day it haunts me every time I buy clothes or shoes I don’t need.
My dad refused to buy store bought Halloween costumes and always had my mom make us homemade Halloween costumes. One year, I desperately wanted to be a werewolf. The costume ended up looking like a rat, and my dad spent all night trying to convince me that I looked scary.