Tiny Bubbles - Bring Back Memories

Dad & Mom 25th

Nearly thirty-four years have passed since the day that my four sisters and I lost our dad on the first of October in 1979. I was just 25 years old and had become a father myself the previous year. Dad was 65. I wish I could tell you that it was a day that I’ll never forget, but to be honest I’ve suppressed the details and pain of that day for many, many years. Ironically, just this summer I experienced a moment that triggered a flood of memories about that day, and more importantly, about our dad.

I was sitting in the warmth of the afternoon sun and enjoying the peaceful cool breeze that whispered across the lake. The local radio station played a song called Tiny Bubbles that was performed and made famous by Don Ho in 1966. It was one of dad’s favorite songs and one we often heard him singing while working around the house or in the car. Ho’s distinctive voice and that familiar song reminded me of how many simple pleasures in life our dad really enjoyed.

Today, September 11th, would have been the day to celebrate dad’s 99th birthday. To honor his memory I’ve set out to identify more of the things he enjoyed in life. The things that defined him as being our dad – our very special dad!

Our dad, George Wayne Brooks, spent 37 years of his life quietly influencing and shaping the lives and values of his five children. Together, my sisters and I have come up with a random but descriptive list of things he liked or loved. I was hoping to identify 99 of them – one for each of the candles that would sit on his birthday cake this year. Let’s see how well we did. If you knew him, we would ask you to add to our list. Help us remember what we might have otherwise forgotten.



1. Dad’s youngest daughter – my baby sister Karen – said what was clear to all of us. Dad would want our mom, Laurel Francilia McDaniel Brooks, to be at the top of any list we would create to describe what he liked and loved in life. She’s so right. Dad fell head over heals in love with mom and never let a day go by without showing or telling her so. They were married in June, 1940 and lived out the rest of their lives together. 

Now… what else did dad like? Well his four beautiful daughters and his handsome son of course. This portrait - the color version - was our Christmas gift to the two of them on what I think was mom's last Christmas in 1977. 

Dads 5 kids

2. MJB (not Folgers) Coffee with cream and sugar made fresh in the best percolating coffee pot he could afford.

3. An absolutely spotlessly hand washed and vacuumed car. Especially his car!

4. A slow cooked pot roast with potatoes and gravy on Sunday afternoons. His day to cook.

5. His impeccably well-maintained vegetable garden in our front yard… Especially during the years when the beans grew taller and the cucumbers roamed farther than his neighbor Louie Gooding’s or his son-in-law Denny Kluin’s!

6. Homemade buns that he could slice into toast and slather with rich butter for breakfast on a Saturday morning… or any morning for that matter.

7. Sadly, our dad also liked his cigarettes. I think he actually loved them. There was a special time for menthol and then another time for plain. I remember the menthol ones were Salem and the plain one’s were L & M.

8. Smelling good. When I was little we knew where dad was by the scent of Old Spice after shave. By the time Bette and Karen joined the family dad had migrated to Brut Cologne.

9. Peanut butter milkshakes. I loved it when he made the special trip to the Hilltop Drive In in North Everett to get one.

10. The Snohomish Bakery and their absolutely w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l Swedish rye bread.

11. He taught me that the best treats from that same bakery had maple or chocolate icing too.

12. War movies… Just about any war was a good war on television for dad!

13. Westerns…. Especially if “The Duke” John Wayne was in them. Want to spend a night with my dad? Go rent a John Wayne western and you’re half way there.

14. Being on time! If we were less than 5 minutes early we were late on “dad time” and there were a few occasions that made it so he wouldn’t go. (Okay, so maybe I take a little after my dad!)

15. Playing softball as a young man with a group of good friends that got together to form a team.

16. Playing catch with a son who dreamed of being good enough to make the majors in our hometown little league system. (And he eventually got me there!)

17. Cheering on any of his kids who took the time to compete. My sister Bette remembers him attending all her games and almost all her practices. I don’t have the same recollection of my many seasons of baseball, basketball and football, but I always knew he was with me in spirit and would be there when he could.

18. His Lazy-Boy recliner chair that was strategically located to have the preferred line of sight to the TV set.

19. That chair was the perfect spot to watch his favorite teams and shows…

a. Combat

b. Lawrence Welk Show (Especially the Lennon Sisters)

c. Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color

d. Wide World of Sports

e. Bonanza

f. What’s My Line

g. The Sonics – He knew every player on that original expansion team roster and cheered them on whenever they were on TV

h. Burns and Alan

i. Groucho Marks

j. The Rebel, Maverick, The Real McCoys,

k. (I’ll stop… but you get the idea. This list could go on for quite a while but we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t find Lucille Ball or Phyllis Diller on it… EVER!)

28. Math! Yep… our dad liked math. He thought of math as one of life’s important principals to learn and master.

29. Now here’s one that surprised me. Karen remembers dad enjoying Miller Beer that had to be poured into a glass… and she says he would only drink half of it.

30. Along those lines, I remember him having the occasional shot of scotch on the back porch with a neighbor or friend. He called it a “high ball.”

31. Meat and potatoes. There were a lot of meals that dad enjoyed, but we seldom had a supper that didn’t include meat and potatoes surrounded by salad, a vegetable with a slice of bread and butter.

32. Speaking of meat, dad liked having a freezer and locker full of it. When I was little dad was still keeping a few chickens in the coop on our half-acre lot. Dad’s brother, Ray, raised a few head of beef. Between the two of them, our family never went hungry…and we never named the chickens or steers.

33. Our dad wasn’t a Kleenex tissue sort of man. Dad liked handkerchiefs, big red or blue handkerchiefs for work and neatly folded white handkerchiefs for dress or around home.

34. Dad didn’t finish high school himself, but he had an appreciation for good report cards. We did our best to give him report cards to be proud of.

35. Camping trips were the majority of our family’s summer vacations. Dad liked to camp and so did we. I can’t begin to count all the campsites dad set up our tent and Coleman stove in.

36. Dad liked camping even more when he was able to buy a brand new Shasta travel trailer for he and mom to enjoy. Oh what luxury!

37. Dad liked his black lunch box and his extra-large stainless steel Stanley thermos bottle.

38. He liked them even more on the many, many days when mom got up early to fill both up for him. Dad never took our mom for granted either.

39. Meal times at our house were family times. Back then we all sat down together and shared the stories of our days. Dad liked those times.

40. He also liked good eaters. (There were people starving in China you know!)

41. To say dad loved playing cards with his brothers, children, in-laws, and neighbors would be an understatement. Here are the card games that I think were his “favorite four.”

42. Pinochle (multiple varieties and decks, partners and cutthroat)

43. Hearts

44. Spades

45. Cribbage

46. Dad liked living within his means and keeping track of his budget.

47. He didn’t use a calculator and there were no computers. Dad liked small white tablets…

48. And sharp number two pencils.

49. Dad liked negotiating good deals that would make his hard-earned income stretch farther.

Brooks Brothers

50. Dad liked it when he made a large purchase and could negotiate payment terms of “60 days, same as cash” (I grew up thinking those were magic words).

51. Dad didn’t talk about money very openly. What he earned was personal and private. So imagine my surprise when during supper one night dad told us that he was now making $10,000 per year. He liked that very much and so did I. I thought that’s what doctors must make!

52. Steel-toed boots were dad’s shoes of choice for almost all of his work life. He liked those boots and kept them cared for so that the leather was soft and water couldn’t get inside. I don’t know how many times he would have had new soles put on before investing in a new pair of boots, but I do know it was definitely more than once.

53. Dad liked the success he had during his career and was proud of himself for coming from humble beginnings as a garden laborer and apple picker, to a millworker and shipyard employee, before eventually retiring from his role as water department foreman where he had become the person in charge.

54. Lake Stevens. Dad loved our hometown. The good. The bad (well there wasn’t much bad). And even the ugly.

55. He liked being able to cool off after a hot day at work by going to the lake or the river. Some favorite spots included Lundeen’s, Davies, Community, Purple Pennant and the swinging bridge.

56. High school football. Dad loved to roam the sidelines with the rest of the men while cheering for the team.

57. My sister Judy remembers that dad had a favorite place in Everett to get his hair cut. On Saturdays, after chores were done around the house, Dad would take the girls and mom into Safeway on Colby. Mom and the girls would shop for groceries and Dad would get his hair cut as needed.

58. Two specialty stores in Everett were favorites of my dad. Billy’s and Sam’s were two specialty stores that were operated by Jewish brother’s that appeared to be in competition selling pretty much the same men’s workclothes. Dad loved getting the two brothers to compete for his business. Billy seemed to know dad personally and they both knew and greeted him by name when he came in the store. Dad wasn’t a big spender but he liked being treated like one.

59. Dad enjoyed a long and scenic drive. He would take the family over to Wenatchee or up the Mountain Loop just to see the country. Usually, we would drop by some relatives for coffee and snacks afterward.

60. He liked the freezer or Igloo locker full of meat for the winter and the cellar full of canned fruit and vegetables.

61. Dad’s top dresser drawer was his “special place” that was never was to be gotten into. Like his wallet (personal) the contents of that drawer were for him and him alone. We figured it must be for the stuff he really liked … so it made the list. (By the way, I eventually got the courage to doing the unthinkable and went into dad’s special drawer. Judy also admitted to taking a peak inside. That’s all we’re saying about that!)

62. Dad had an old-fashioned safty razor and strap before they were old fashioned. He liked to keep his razor sharp and his strap close by. I always knew it was never far away on days when I’d been bad.

Dad with Hat

63. Dad liked having weekday supper at 5 p.m. His commute from his “office” took about 10 minutes so he was off work at 4:30, home by 4:45, and washed up and sitting down to eat with plenty of time to spare.

64. Did I say “office?” Well it really wasn’t as much an office as it was a shop or maintenance barn. Never-the-less, he loved going there and having it just the way he wanted it. Everything in it’s proper place. I don’t know how often my sisters got to visit dad at work, but I did on a frequent basis. A boy can learn a lot by hanging with his dad in a place like that!

65. Dad was assigned a PUD truck to drive back and forth to work. He liked that and kept the company truck just as clean and neat as he did the family car. He was meticulous to the point of making sure the shovel was placed in the rack just the way he liked it.

66. Dad’s work truck had a radio that kept him connected with the dispatcher who worked in Everett. After each coversation dad signed off with call letters that I have never forgotten – “KOB504.” I never knew why he recited that mix of letters and numbers but now I’m wondering if they might have been embossed on the trucks license plate. The things we remember as kids!

67. Having that extra vehical gave dad the chance to leave a car at home for mom to use and helped hi save a few bucks on gas too. Of course he liked that!

68. Dad loved caring for his little piece of the Earth, and enjoyed keeping it looking as good as he new how. There was something to do nearly everyday – pruned trees, mowed lawn, hedges trimmed, gardens planted, driveways swept, and edges trimmed.

69. Unlike me, who likes seeing and having a well maintained yard, our dad actually liked doing the work!

70. Dad loved everything that makes a family barbeque special. From the charcoal briquets and starting fluid, to the hamburger patties, potato salad, baked beans and all the condiments (especially Heinz Ketchup) and trimmings.

71. Did I mention his pipe and cherry tobacco yet?

72. How about games of horseshoes at family gatherings?

73. Razor clam digging at Westport and making clam fritters when we got home. The digging itself often turned into a competition between dad and his brothers. Who was the fastest, who got the most, who dug the biggest and best.

74. Have a few specially designated “experimental rows” of strawberries that our cousin, Neil Cooper, set aside for family picking in the best part of his strawberry farm.

75. Strawberry jam, strawberry jelly, frozen strawberries, and fresh strawberry shortcake… as a result of frequent trips to the “experimental rows” at Coopers Berry farm!

Dad and Rod

76. Going to Uncle Harry Brooks’ house in Marysville shortly after Thanksgiving to cut a wild Christmas tree from what looked like a massive pine forrest. (But it wasn’t that massive). For years, dad helped me pick a small tree to cut myself that I could take to school for our classroom decoration.

77. Dad installed and truly loved his perfectly painted flag pole. He made sure the flag was flying proudly on each and every national holiday. Dad loved our country and the freedoms that we all enjoy.

78. He loved us so much and was so proud of us, we never wanted to disappoint him. He loved being George Brooks or one of the Brooks boys.

79. I told you about dad’s love for his cigarettes and pipe, but I didn’t tell you about his fondness for orange and green ashtrays strategically placed around the house. Somehow that always seemed to be clean too.

80. Dad liked having a welcoming lap for his two baby girls and grandkids to rock and cuddle on… even after they were grown and a little too big for his lap.

81. Dad liked to be well supplied. He seemed to keep extras of everything. Shoe laces, tablets, notebook paper, pencils, erasers, you name it. If it was small and affordable dad had an extra.

82. Dad liked seeing the Frontier Village get built. He knew all the contractors, developers, and store owners that helped make going shopping a lot more convenient as Lake Stevens started to grow up.

83. Dad liked traditional Christmas mornings at home and the annual extended family celebrations on Christmas Eve.

84. His Christmas tree was perfectly trimmed with tinsel going on one single strand at a time.

85. Dad liked to sing… in the car, at work, while doing chores around the house. He had a deep and distinctive singing voice that made any song sound better. One of his favorite songs was “Rambling Rose.”

86. Dad liked breakfast and didn’t mind having breakfast for dinner when the mood was right. Pancakes, waffles, bacon, hash browns, buttered toast and HARD fried eggs. Mmmm! One of dad’s fried egg sandwiches sounds pretty good right now.

87. Dad kept a giant sheet of plywood stored in our garage. On several occasions each year, that ordinary sheet of plywood became a giant dining room table when dad carried it into the front room, covered it with table linens, and set a dozen or more mismatched chairs around it. That table is where memories were made and love happened!

88. We had the biggest mailbox on the neighborhood mailbox stand. It was strategically located at the end of our driveway. I think dad secretly liked being the “big box” on the post!

89. Dad liked it when he was able to purchase his “investment property” that would be the location of the brand new house he hoped to build for mom. It was a half acre lot almost directly behind our existing house that, for years, made a great place for forts, tree houses, and childhood games. When the time came to clear the lot and build the new house the decision was made not to proceed. There were simply too many memories in the old house for mom to move away. Dad never admitted it, but I think he felt the same way.

90. Dad built a new garage that he was very proud of. It had room for his car, his lawn equipment, and a fully equipped workbench. When the garage went up, the old gravel driveway went away. We ended up with the longest cement driveway and basketball court in the neighborhood. Dad was happy and so was I.

91. Dad liked food combinations like sugar cookies with peanut butter on them, and pears with cheese on them.

92. Dad liked being the first to read his newspaper, slippers with a good sole, desert in his chair after dinner with a hot cup of coffee.

93. He loved his mother and his brothers. He was very proud to be one of the Brooks Boys.

94. Dad liked his hat and when he wore it he looked extra handsome.

95. Dad liked the journey as much or more than the destination. I remember one summer vacation that we started a drive to Disneyland. When Bette got sick and we needed to return home dad helped eliminate any disappointment that might have been present by making the best of the moment we were in at the place where we were. His glass was always half-full and never half-empty.

96. Dad enjoyed being able to help others (haying and fixing things). He was a hard worker and a good friend to many.

97. Cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles and all his extended family were important to our dad. He knew the importance of staying connected with one another and strength that only a family can provide.

98. Dad, more than anything else, was a family man. His rough and callused hands were just part of the exterior that came from getting things done. His family knew the soft parts that made him special. It was his loving heart, his generous spirit, and his never-ending commitment to our mother and the children she helped him raise.

Dad and Mom - young

99. And now that I’ve arrived at the ninety-ninth entry on the list, I know that there are likely to be as many entries we’ve forgotten as there are that we remember. Our dad loved life and lived for the bright spots of happiness. He was encouraging, supportive and was always there for each of his children when we needed him most. Still, I’ve chosen to end this list the same way I started it. The same way that dad began and ended each day of his marriage. If he were allowed just one entry on the list it would start and end with the love of his life – our mom.

That’s just the way he’d want us to begin and end this birthday tribute – with a shout out to his best girl! Here’s to you mom! Happy birthday dad!

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.