We all have our father stories. I'll be posting mine as a series of flash essays that make up a longer essay titled "Becoming Memory." It was originally published in "Upstreet 8." If you want to read the whole thing at once, you can visit http://upstreet-mag.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Buckmaster_08_website.pdf.
My mother, who will not be my mother for some years, waits on the corner of Broad Street and Oregon Avenue, waiting for my father, of course. South Philadelphia after the War, both from the same neighborhood, and somehow engaged though he wasn’t the boyfriend she always thought she would have. My father, the bad boy of Mollbore Terrace. His father, the steady draftsman at the Navy Yard with a job all through the Depression, keeping a bottle in the desk drawer and another down in his cellar workshop.
“You get out of that tree right now, Dick Buckmaster!” my mother had yelled at my father years earlier from inside the house where she was babysitting. By then, he was already a pack-a-day teenage smoker but still climbing city trees and teasing younger girls. He told her later on their wedding night, “I never thought I’d get someone as nice as you, Thelma.”
Now, here she is waiting for him, her fiancé. The sound of Benny Goodman’s clarinet slips out of the radio at Tony’s Corner Store each time a customer opens the door. They go in and out again picking up a pack of cigarettes, a half pound of cold cuts, an Italian ice, and still my father hasn't come. The streetcar stops, then clangs its lunge forward.
My mother bends to straighten the seam of her stocking. Streetlights blink on. She opens her handbag and pulls out her compact. She doesn’t yet know that this will be her life.