It was Thanksgiving week, 1943. World War II was still going on. Mama and Daddy had moved to Alexandria, Louisiana and he had started his Pest Control Business. Daddy had not yet joined the Navy. My sister, Becky, was eighteen months old and I was due the first week of December.
Everything was wonderful, until daddy announced that he had invited his family over for Thanksgiving. Could mama put together a meal? I know that my mama did not take this quietly and exhausted as she was from taking care of Becky and being nine months pregnant, fussed and fumed while she prepared the meal. Thursday, family arrived, some with side dishes or pies, and everyone ate and then left. I/m sure, mama, being mama, told them not to worry about cleaning up, because “the maid comes in later.” I’m sure she expected daddy would wake up and help her.
After everyone left, daddy committed that he and his good friend and hunting buddy, Richard Mohon, were going hunting and be back Sunday. He gathered his gear and left. Here was mama, exhausted and furious. Becky was, no doubt, talking as if she were vaccinated with a phonograph needle and running all over the house like the hyper energizer bunny. I must have sensed this stress because Friday morning, mama went into labor. How, or who, got her to Baptist hospital (later Rapides General) is a mystery. I was born that afternoon. Friday, November 26th.
Someone found daddy and he returned late that afternoon. Mama had already been settled in her room (remember, in the dark ages of the 1940’s, women were required to stay in the hospital for a week). Mama had already given my name, James David, for the birth certificate. Daddy saw this and reminded mama that he had wanted the baby, if a boy, named after his buddy Richard Mohon. There probably was no response from mama. Daddy took the certificate, without mama’s knowledge, and informed the hospital that the name was wrong. It should have been James Richard. They changed it.
Mama didn’t find out until several months later. So, daddy, seeing that mama was settled in her room decided that he and the doctor would go hunting for the weekend and return Sunday since someone was taking care of Becky.
Soon after that, daddy joined the Navy and spent the rest of the war in China, spraying mosquitos for malaria since he had a degree in Entomology. I didn’t really get to meet my daddy until I had begun talking. My first memory was of this man being in the house all the time and him spanking me because I kept saying, “Stranger, go home.”
Happy Thanksgiving, mama and daddy. There were better Thanksgiving days through the years, even though daddy seemed to manage hunting most of them.
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