The best teachers are storytellers. I can’t think of a better storyteller than my Dad. (Thanks for the ocelot story, Dad!). His birthday was in May and I had this big grand plan to share his stories in written and podcast form. Turns out posting podcasts is more complicated than I thought…I could’ve learned by Father’s Day but that deadline has passed, too. While I figure out the podcast thing, I can still do what I do best: write and share.
My Dad told me a story today and in the moment after his last word I realized he had taught me several things without spelling them all out.
The story always starts with a cool fact:
“That old nursery (Howard’s Nursery on Koenig Lane) used to be an airport.” [My Notes: a little research yields the name and history: Haile Airport-- read more on the Austin Explorer, see site for photos of the hangar!]
From 1939 to 1948 Doc Haile ran an airport in what is now the neighborhood of Skyview. The small facility was on 50 acres and primarily used for general (i.e. not commercial) aviation. During the war some GI training apparently also took place. ~Austin Explorer
A man in North*** Austin called my dad one day and asked him to come out and discuss selling his home. My dad is a commercial real estate guru, much like his dad before him. Dad thinks my grandfather had sold this gentleman his home where he raised two boys with his wife.
When my dad came out to the property the first thing he noticed was the large cage, [10 foot high, right Dad?] filled with sport balls. Basketballs, Footballs, Soccer – - Baseballs – - probably Kickballs, Tennis Balls, and Softballs, too. It turns out this guy would go fish in Town Lake ( I guess it’s officially called Ladybird Lake now) and he would pull up or come across all the sport balls that run into the lake from the high school and public sport fields flanking the lake.
He stored them up in his grate and gave them away. Then he went fishing again and got some more…
So my dad is with this guy at his house and he says, “Is your wife dead?” The guy says, “No”. And then the man tells my Dad a story for the true Austin page-book, a story no one else would probably ever hear unless we told it here.
The man had two sons and when they were old enough they learned to fly at the little airstrip that eventually became Howard’s Nursery and now stands vacant. One day the boys were flying together and they crashed. Both boys died. Their father came home one day to find the preacher consoling his wife on the couch in a very, ahem– intimate fashion. He kicked his wife (and I’m sure the lusty clergy) to the curb and told her to get out. She left and never came back.
“So did you divorce her?” my Dad asked the man.
“No, I never did.” He had not seen her for 25 years.
“Well, sorry to say, you can’t sell this house unless she signs the papers.”
My Dad has thousands, THOUSANDS of stories like this. And if I listen, I hear more then Austin history. I hear life lessons:
Real Estate – -
If you want to sell a house with someone’s else’s name on it, make sure they are willing, available, divorced from you, or dead.
Religion – -
If the preacher seems keen on consoling your wife, you might want to oversee this process. Better yet, jump ship and get a new preacher. They aren’t all slugs.
One man’s lost ball is another man’s treasure. It’s also trash if it goes into the lake. Try to avoid this.
Flying– I don’t know the lesson here. My dad loves flying. I flew in his small plane once and cried the whole way. I guess the lesson is, flying is fun– and risky, weigh the costs and benefits. Know that an entire family can be destroyed in a moment– it can happen anywhere, not just on a dinky airstrip. Lesson for me: Do I have a God who is big enough to help me withstand this kind of loss and pain?
‘The Times’ – - people like to deal with someone they know. My grandfather probably sold him the house. He called my father to sell it. If I build trust in relationships and people will call when they need me, even 30+ years later.
History– without the stories, we’ll lose touch with our past. If I listen to the voices of those around me. I’ll learn things no website or book could ever tell me.
Thanks for the lessons, Dad!
***North Austin has since moved. 290/Koenig/2222/Allandale is Central Austin. North of 183 is the slight beginning of what some might consider to be North Austin. For true North Austin you must go to Round Rock.