John Heaphy made me really lonesome today, when he wrote me, " one of my fondest memories at NDHS was the mornings that your Dad would drive us to school."
My dad was a simple, hard workingman. I got him to write his history just before he died. He wrote about chopping the timber on the Olympic Peninsula to make WWI airplanes, holding the first truck driver's license in Missouri , working as a cowboy in Montana, and being a rough neck on the oil rigs. He ended the little book by saying, "I never did anything important in my life, but I was born in age of horses and buggies, and lived to watch men walk on the moon."
He was generous to a fault. Once he gave this French Canadian kid Chenel LaBelle, his last five bucks. Years later that kid, then a man, hired him to work at General Concrete on Oxnard in Van Nuys. Since my pop was up in years, his friend (then, the foreman of the company) had my dad water down the concrete blocks. The Mexican guys, who loved him and plied him with hot peppers, called him "Aqua Bill".
Bill Fecht went to Mass as often as he could, sometimes two or three times a week. One time he won the 50-50 raffle at Saint Catherine of Sienna Church in Reseda. My mom and I were in the car waiting for him. He left the sacristy beaming. My mom said, "Oh my god, he's given the money away!" When he got in our old Chevy, my mother said how much we needed the money. His answer was, "I didn't enter the raffle for the money. I did it to help the school. Besides, it is God's money."
My mom was a "practical nurse" at Valley Receiving Hospital. She worked very hard. She was a convert to the Catholic Church, having been a "hook and eye" Dunker, before she met my dad. She followed the Church's rules down to the dots and commas. I used to torment her with her only doubt about being a Christian …. the story of Mary and
Martha, and how Martha complained that she was doing all the work, and Mary was sitting around listening to Jesus. "Mary has chosen the better way." It pissed my mother off, since she worked so very hard.
I would loaf around with my cat Frauzer and tell her, "I have chosen the better way."
They took Frauzer with them to Lake Stevens, Washington. Dad lived out his days growing things on his hillside terrace and sharing things with him neighbors.
They are buried in the GAR Cemetery in Snohomish, Washington.
Every time I hear the Quaker hymn, "Tis a joy to be simple," I think of them.