Today would be my Dad’s 102 birthday. Bruce Loyd Turnbull was a kind Father for five energetic children.
With the boys, he was the coach of their basketball, football and boxing teams. In the fall, he would take them hunting and to explore in Northern Michigan.
He had to come up with different activities with me. He found that we shared a love of music and singing popular tunes.
The electric store was given many record albums to play on new stereos. Some of my favorite were songs from movies or stage shows.
I would be able to take them home and play them on my blue record player. I learned the songs by heart and would dance and sing for hours.
One day, my Dad asked if I would like to go to the movies with him. He chose a Sunday matinee. We went the movie,”Music man.” I had been singing with the record for over a month. I ignored our shared popcorn as I belted out all the tunes.
When I was old enough to learn to swim, dad enrolled me in a beginning swimming lessons. I learned to float and perform the crawl stroke, but I didn’t learn to breath while swimming.
On the last day, all the parents were present to watch their children pass their swimming requirements.
I had passed all requirements except to swim the width of the pool. I took a large breath and pushed of.. I swam until I was out of breath. I put my feet down only to discovered I was two feet from the edge. Failing, I saw an extended hand and grabbed it. It was my Dad helping me out of the pool.
Why didn’t you breath? he asked.
“I don’t know how,” I wailed.
“Don’t cry, I will teach you,” he replied.
He had been a lifeguard in high school and college. He was true to his word and taught me so well, I earned my senior Lifesaving certification.
When I was in college, my Father liked to visit each of his children and go with them to class. He would write grade each profession on his presentation and teaching methods. This scoring saved me from a reprimand when I received a D in earth science. The room was warm and stuffy. The professor had written the text book text. He referred to the text but did little in the way of explaining. Additionally, his voice was quiet and he spoke with a monotone. My Dad fell asleep in his class while in the middle of writing a sentence.
In graduate school, my State and Local government professor invited Dad to talk to the class. He was the head of the local planning commission in Northville. There was a piece of property in the Northville limits that belonged to Detroit. Mayberry was an abandoned tuberculosis care center. The local people wanted it to be offered to the state for a park. Detroit wanted it for housing, even though it was twelve miles from the city.
There was quite a discussion from several young men from Detroit asking my Dad tough questions about the decision. He was holding well, but the professor put a stop to the questions with a reminder that Mr. Turnbull was a guest.
My Dad worked in downtown Detroit and didn’t show us any prejudice towards any group of people. He taught us to take each person individually. He did have issues with people from India. He was losing his hearing and the vocal pattern and higher voices made it difficult to converse with people with an Indian accent.
In his later years, he would spin stories about his youth and early young adulthood. I never tired of hearing about his antics.
So today, I raise a glass of beer, Gobel was his favorite and toast the treasure of stories. Thank you Dad and Happy Birthday.
Handsome in his suit
tall walking with his sons
his smile was quicker than his frown