, Derry, New Hampshire


June 19, 2014

Column: Dad was always ready with a quip or a maxim

On Fathers Day I look forward to the nice restaurant dinner, a couple of presents, some words of appreciation, and a few hugs from my kids and grandkids. For me, however, the day has its measure of sadness because I am no longer able to wish my dad “Happy Fathers Day.”

My dad, John B. Holmes Jr. was born in 1912 in the (then) little town of Braintree, Mass. His dad worked at the local shipyard and later was a farmer with a stall at the Quincy Market. In 1925, the family bought a farm in Chester. In 1928, Gramps and Nana bought a larger farm in Sandown where they had a big garden, a few cows, some chickens and a couple of pigs.

Moving to Sandown meant that Dad had to drop out of high school; there was no easy way to get from Sandown to a secondary school and besides he and his brother were needed to do farm chores. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, Dad took a job in Nashua delivering coal and ice on his back to customers in three-decker tenements. During those Prohibition days, he belonged to a Nashua speak-easy called The Kit-Kat Club. He returned to Sandown when President Franklin Roosevelt’s WPA provided jobs rebuilding local roads; Gramps was a road crew foreman, Dad drove a dump truck.

In September 1939, Dad delivered a load of new desks to the one-room Pine Grove School. There he met Miss Andrews, the newly hired teacher of grades one through eight. They fell in love and soon would start a marriage that would last nearly 60 years. Dad was 6 feet tall, Ma was 4 feet, 10 inches. Soon enough my brother and I came into the picture. Dad now joined the Teamsters Union, driving logging trucks, a critical job in the home front’s war effort. His brother Bud was a Marine, island hopping in the Pacific theater of war.

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