A Father’s Day message to Dad

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

As a child growing up near New Orleans, I have fond memories of my dad and mom loading my brother and I into our Chevrolet van every year and busing us down to the local Mardi Gras parade.

Because I was too short to see over the crowds of people gathered on the side of the road, Dad would often hoist me up and let me sit on his shoulders as I caught what seemed like several tons of beads and toys.

He would also cover my ears when the fire trucks drove by and blasted their horns a few feet in front of us – a noise I admittedly still despise to this day.

Every day, he would drive more than an hour one-way to his job at a steel mill in another part of the state, but he still always took time to hang out with me, my brother and my mom when he got home.

When we moved to Shelby County in the early 1990s, I remember spending entire Saturdays helping Dad make our yard the most pristine in the neighborhood. After a long day of yardwork, Dad would then fire up the grill and cook a feast for all of us.

As I got older, I began to become involved in various sports, such as soccer, baseball and track and field. During the high school indoor track season, Dad would often get up before the sun to drive me up to Priceville to run in what was then known as “the barn,” an indoor track venue usually filled with dust clouds and sub-zero temperatures.

Like most guys, I became a car nut when I turned 16, and Dad was more than happy to teach me everything he knew about caring for and driving a car. The first time I waxed my old Ford F-150 truck, Dad was right there with me helping me make it shine.

I can’t even count the number of hours we have spent cleaning and working on our fleet of muscle and sports cars over the years, going to Sports Car Club of America races and attending local car shows.

More recently, our shared love for any type of firearm has led to hours spent on the gun range putting an end to many an aluminum can and cardboard box.

No matter what my hobby, or should I say obsession, has been over the years, Dad has always jumped right in with me.

Thanks, Dad, for always supporting me and pointing me in the right direction. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you.