Monday, January 2, 2017

My Dad - Wayne Lance

 January 2, 2017 - Today, my dad would have been 103 - Jiminy Cricket wanted to live to be 103 - so did my dad! Dad died in 2012 at the age of 98+. My dad shared his birthday with his father, who was 28 at the time dad was born. My dad was 28 when I was born.

Wayne Lance born 2 January 1914
 
Born in Homerville, Ohio, his parents were older when he was born. He remained an only child until he was 14 years old and his parents adopted a baby girl they named Mildred.

 Wayne Lance High School graduation picture

 Four generations - Margaret being held by great-grandmother Carrie Lance, with grandfather, Vernon Lance and dad, Wayne Lance about 1943

 Wayne Lance

I have mentioned before that dad was a musician for most of his life. He played various instruments including the trumpet, guitar, ukulele, harmonica, piano and organ. After he graduated from high school, he went to Chicago to attend the Sherwood Music School. His dream was to be a music teacher in the public schools. After a year at Sherwood, it became financially impossible for him to continue. He returned to Ohio and found factory work. He maintained his musical ambitions to a point by playing in small dance bands and for private affairs. He became a church organist for several churches during his life. At the age of 95 he was playing his organ at a local coffee shop in Prescott, AZ.

Dad was 25 when he married my mother, Allene. He was 7 years older than she was. They had met at a school musical function. My parents were married for 39 years before they divorced. They had 4 children; me, Gloria, Janet and when I was 14, my brother, David, was born.

Dad worked at a foundry in Spencer, OH when I was born. He had worked at Eagle Rubber in Ashland, OH making balloons. My dad had no sense of smell. But he said he could smell the ammonia fumes from the large vats the balloons were dipped in to. By 1945 my parents were living in Elyria, OH and bought a home on Lafayette St. Dad was working for Romec Pump - later Lear-Seigler - as a tool and die machinist.
 
When I was 5, my dad started teaching me how to play the piano. I continued to play and take lessons until I graduated from high school. I can remember sitting at the piano that was sitting in the middle of the room, as they were removing wallpaper in the living room. Dad tried teaching my sisters, but they weren't as in to it. We all played other instruments, though. I played clarinet and bassoon, Gloria played flute and violin, Janet played trumpet and violin, and our brother David learned piano/keyboard and guitar. (My mother had played the violin and piano as well).

From the late 1940's to the late 1950's our summer vacations were marvelous adventures.

Dad built our camping trailer from a blueprints he ordered from a magazine. I have the original blueprints. This camping outfit took us to the Smokey Mountains, to New England in to Canada. To upper Michigan, down through Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Dells, to Minnesota and the iron-ore ranges; to North and South Dakota. We saw Mt. Rushmore and the new sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse that was just starting to be made. Many of our trips were to the southwest and to Colorado. We all loved Colorado. We rode the Durango-Silverton Railroad; we climbed the ladders and trails in Mesa Verde. We crossed the bridge at the Royal Gorge and rode the little train with signs that said "Deadwood Ahead". Sure enough, there was a pile of dead wood! We rode the incline at the Royal Gorge. We went to the top of Pike's Peak. We camped at Dinosaur National Park. We camped at the Grand Canyon and saw the canyon in the light of the full moon. We took a jeep tour of Monument Valley and it touched our hearts as to the life of the Navajos that lived there. They were just starting to build water tanks for water supplies in the mid-1950's. We went to White Sands, New Mexico and to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We went to Tucson, Phoenix, Sedona and Prescott in Arizona. It was a magical time and we saw so much. Dad loved to travel and see new things.
 
 

In 1961, my dad decided his family was moving to Prescott, Arizona. He left his job at Lear Seigler, 3 years short of full retirement; sold their home to my mother's sister; packed up and headed west. My brother David and my sister Janet went with them. Gloria and I were both married.

Dad never really found a steady job after going to Arizona. He delivered newspapers, he worked as custodian at the local theater, he found playing jobs, he sold organs and pianos, he taught music, he became organist for the First Congregational Church. After my parents divorced, he moved to Cottonwood, Arizona and bought a music store there, but it didn't work out for him.

Dad was married and divorced two more times. My mom never remarried.

Dad was a technical person. He loved new gadgets. He learned to develop his own pictures and had a darkroom in the basement. The little room beside the furnace also was his "radio shack" where he was a ham radio operator K7LRN (lizards, rattlesnacks, navajo). When the computer became affordable, he loved it. He never mastered it, but he could instant message with me from Arizona to Ohio twice a day. When I asked him once what he thought the greatest invention was in his lifetime, he said without hesitation - the computer!
 
I miss our conversations.
 
Happy birthday, Dad!




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