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by Ron Cruger
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“Once, when I was working at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City…I met Edgar Rice Burroughs, you know, the man who wrote Tarzan.
I was a bell boy at the hotel and I carried Mr. Burrough’s bags. He tipped me a dollar. That was a lot in those days.”
was my father who told me this little story.’
Dad was proud of what happened to him when he was a struggling teenager, only
seventeen years old, living with a brother in the Bronx. It was 1923. My father’s mother and father had both died before he was sixteen
years old, leaving him with no option other than to ask an older brother if he could live with him and his wife until he had saved
enough money to live by himself.
I had heard the story about Edgar Rice Burroughs twice already.
Then, one day
my dad and I were sitting on the steps by the back door of our house when he said, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was a bell
boy in New York and I met Edgar Rice Burroughs, and….”
I looked at my dad and said, “Yes, dad, you’ve told us that story
a few times.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” my dad said. He was embarrassed.
Dad’s been gone since 1965 and a few times
a year I think of that day that he wanted to tell me the Edgar Rice Burroughs story again and I become embarrassed because I embarrassed
What’s even more embarrassing is that I’ve recently done the same thing as my father. I wanted to tell my own children
a story that I thought was interesting, not remembering that I had told them the story before.
As I began telling the story
of something that I had done when I was six years old I had this odd feeling that I had perhaps told the story before. Nobody said
anything to me, nobody said, “Yes, dad, you’ve told us that story a few times,” but I had this feeling that I had told the story to
them before. I had this dreaded feeling that I was boring one of my children.
I quickly finished the story and reflected.
look on my father’s face when I interrupted him popped into my mind. He was embarrassed and here I was over forty years later doing
exactly what dad had done.
In the large scheme of things it’s not a big deal, but it made me think about dad. He was a great
guy, who will always be the most important male in my life.
If I had that day that I embarrassed my dad to live over again
I would have listened to his story again and not interrupted him.
I’ll also be a lot more careful when I have a story to
tell my children.