Memories of Charles W. Hirby
By Tecla Powell

I was the youngest of four children. The only girl. One of the first memories I have of my father is of him rubbing my back to put me to sleep at night. I felt a lot of love from those hands. I think it is a special kind of blessing a parent can give a child.

I learned my love of nature from Dad. He would often let me tag along on excursions out to Bob Roegner’s farm. Once when they were hunting I had strict instructions to not follow, to stay out of the line of fire. I contented myself to mill around a group of trees. Unfortunately I stepped on a thorn from a locust tree. That cut the hunting trip short. Sometimes on the way back he would set me on his lap and let me guide the steering wheel.

I think Dad strove to give us a sense of fair mindedness. I remember well him coming into my room to administer discipline. He would say something like: “Now you are going to get spanked but, first we are going to talk about what happened to be sure you understand why you are being punished.” He gave me a lecture full of his own brand of wisdom. I would feel pretty good about what had transpired. When Dad proceeded to spank me it took me by surprise.

Dad enjoyed nurturing things. He would bring a tree seedling from some unusual place to see if it
would grow. I still have a filbert tree in my yard that he planted. It produces nuts every summer, most of which the squirrels enjoy.

Dad always had a vegetable garden. Once he wanted me to weed for him. He took me out to the patch and showed me what to do. When he returned there wasn’t a green plant left in the garden. That one has been hard to live down.

In our basement at 1007 Park Dad set up an incubator. I remember it as a round contraption with a place for forty or so eggs. They were to be pheasants. It was exciting to watching those eggs everyday until finally the shells began to crack. We had pheasant chicks all over the place.

Dad usually had a good hunting dog. H e liked pointers and beagles. I remember when we lived on South Street we had a dog named Pluto. We also had Trixie. She moved with us to 1007 Park Ave. She was more of a family dog. She died one morning under the Christmas tree.

Beauty was another pointer Dad had. She had eleven pups. She did not eat her placenta. So, it meant her milk didn’t provide all the nutrients the pups needed. Dad went out to the barn every morning to bottle feed all eleven.

Dad was a lot of fun at family gatherings. He would be out there playing volley ball with the rest of us kids. He knew how to encourage youth and to help you make your own decisions about things. He had strong feelings about right and wrong., often disgruntled about some inequity he or someone he loved had encountered.

Once when I had a pair of shoes resoled I was disappointed because the soles were too thick -- not at all like the originals.
When Dad found out I had meekly paid for the shoes without even mentioning my disappointment, he marched me right back to the shoe repair-man and showed me how to give him what for.

After Mom died Dad was pretty lonely. He talked about the possibility of adopting a son. He said he still had a lot of love to give. He needed someone to give that love to. That was before he met Dixie.

Once when Charles and I were visiting Dad on Cottage Avenue. He took the last of Mom’s pie-crusts out of the freezer. We had apple pie. We were grateful he shared it with us. Sometimes I called my father Pop.

Last winter when I was visiting Dad & Dixie, Dad had me go to the basement to find some tomato seeds he had saved. They were “hillbilly” tomatoes. They were yellow with red stripes and large. His neighbor Anna Mae had given him the original plants. I managed to start some seedlings this spring. They were pretty scrawny. Charles predicted those plants would overtake the other tomatoes I planted. They did. Those were the sweetest tomatoes I have ever tasted. I just ate the last one last week. A bitter-sweet moment.

In June of 2002 I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Dad while Dixie went to her grandson’s wedding in Kentucky. How I value that time. It felt good to just be in the room with him not doing anything in particular. We had asparagus from the garden.

We went into Lucas. Dad had a watch to be repaired. The first jewelry store was closed for vacation. We got the walker out and Dad walked half a block to the jeweler down the street. I know it took a lot of determination and grit for him to walk that far that day. When we got into the store they had to move the display rack in the center isle so Dad could get to a chair. The watch was fixed. Dad wanted to look at diamonds. He was thinking of Dixie. While we were in town he made sure I went in the variety store. He said Dixie liked to shop there.

Now, I think of Dad often. Sometimes I find him sneaking up inside my personality. Sometimes it feels like he is inside of me. I definitely know there is a lot of him in me. How glad I am that he has been my father.