My father liked to quote Jack Parr, who once said that he was “so sentimental that he cried when he took the bottles back to the A&P.” That would still bring a smile to most people’s face, if most people 1. Knew who Jack Parr was, 2. Knew what an A&P was, 3. Knew what taking bottles back to the aforementioned A&P meant.
Parr was the Tonight show host in the years before Johnny Carson, a quiet, cerebral type of humorist, much beloved by Americans, circa 1959-1962. The A&P was the largest chain of grocery stores in the world at the time Parr made his statement, now dwindled down to a precious few in the east, notable now only as the Ozymandias of the grocery store world. The majority of the population has never seen or heard of one.”Taking bottles back” referred to the fact that, in those days, you paid a two cent deposit on every bottle of soda you purchased and took off premises. In those days there were no cans. You got your deposits back when you returned the bottles to the store the next week. As you checked out, the check out guy would say, bring your bottles ? You would point toward the bottle return area and tell him how many you brought back and that amount would be deducted from your grocery bill. Usually between twelve and twenty four cents. The large “family size bottle” deposits were more, but I can’t recall the number, maybe a nickel.
I thought about the Parr statement as the dog and I rounded my block this morning and noticed that a beautiful old Spanish style house had been knocked into kindling the day before. I did not even know this had been planned. It made me very emotional, I’m sure that the dog had similar feelings. How anyone could think of tearing such a beautiful home down is beyond me. I realize that, like Parr, I am overly sentimental about such things. Most people probably understand that the owner feels that he/she will benefit economically by the tear down, and, if they out wait the current housing slump, they probably will. I know from personal experience that you are a lot less sentimental about things when profit is involved. Parr would not have wept if he’d gotten to double his deposit money when he took his bottles back. So I am not casting stones at the owner, or the decision, I just crying for the loss of a thing of beauty.
I am overly sentimental today anyway. Today is the last day that I am the father of a true child. Tomorrow my daughter turns 18 and I will become the father of an adult. There is a difference in the two. It hurts me that she can go out and get a tattoo without my permission, as well as make over a million other less obnoxious choices that I can no longer do anything about. It bothers me that “childhood” is over. It was wonderful having a minor around the house. Now we are just three old adults living together. Although the pecking order will not change, she will still be in charge. Millions and millions of people have said before me, that it is amazing how fast they grow up. As trite as it is, I can’t help but echo those sentiments. How did this happen ? How did 18 years pass so quickly ? How can a daughter of mine legally buy cigars ? , join the army ?, contract with anyone in the country except for Hertz and Avis ? How did I not get around to doing all the things I was going to do for and with my child ?
I guess a lot of it happened when I was at work, or watching a ball game on television. The hours creep up on you, but still, 18 years ? really ? Yes really, tomorrow is coming, no matter how sad it makes me. I am glad that the sadness is overshadowed by pride and love, and the knowledge that no matter how old she gets, she will always be my daughter, and in some special ways, my little girl. Happy Birthday Stacey, welcome to adulthood. It might not be all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s still a pretty nice ride.