Daisy Bost: Unca Darrell always made me proud
I grew up in the little town of Faith – still live there. No better place. Many people in that small town helped shape my life. But one in particular is the subject of my Father’s Day story. As dads go (I never called my own dad “father”) I had a top notch one. As the Irish say, he was a “darlin’” dad. But my dad is not the topic of this little story.
This particular dad was born in Faith, the last of eight children – two daughters and six sons — in a white house sitting on a hill across from Faith School. He entered the world, kicking and screaming, 92 years ago.
His childhood in those hard times was pretty normal. Enough to eat, a place to sleep, work to do and a generous amount of love. In the way of worldly possessions, he had few. His dad worked in the rock quarry, hard physical labor. Mom was in charge of food, clean clothes and clout for her brood. There was a cow named Beauty, a dog named Jack and a baseball, wrapped and rewrapped among his possessions. The baseball would later prove beneficial to him.
Summer days brought out the best of times for this young lad. They also brought out something that plagued him throughout his high school years. For when summer sun shone, an amazing crop of freckles popped out on his face. They didn’t bother him so much in elementary school, but high school was another story. He tried every home remedy known to erase the determined spots. It was to no avail. Finally, the hated spots disappeared on their own, but not before earning him a lifetime nickname of “Freckles.”
When you are part of a family of eight, there comes a time when you get a job. And so he did. His brother owned a barber shop in Faith and he became the shoeshine boy there. “Shine for a dime, sir?” Spread the polish, snap the cloth, so it went, and the dimes added up to a few dollars occasionally to take home to Mom to help out. One for all, all for one.
Somewhere about this time I entered the Williams-Drury brood – the first grandchild. From what I hear, my baby days were less than perfect. Mom, my grandmother, was enlisted as help as my own mother begin to wonder at the wisdom of bringing a small crying, non-sleeping tyrant into the world. Mom, being busy herself, issued a call for Freckles to aid this battle for peace.
Being 12 years older than me, he wanted none of it. However, there I was and there he was. Thus began the summer of the swing on the front porch. Hours and miles of swinging occurred before my baby eyes would close, and he was freed to his own pursuits.
He still remembers this and, I believe, looks at me with jaundiced eye from time to time. Great practice for his own five children, though.
High school began and so did the building of a lifetime career. He began to glimpse the wonder of the written word. With gifted teachers to guide, stories, poems, fact, fiction and experiences were penned. Just high school stuff, but the light had been turned on. He knew the road to take and take it he did.
Dec. 6, 1941, changed the world forever. It also changed the future for this writer. After high school, Uncle Sam came calling and Freckles, along with three of his brothers, answered with pride the call. One Air Force, one Navy and one Army. By God’s grace all three returned home, never forgetting friend, buddies and comrades who didn’t.
A saying goes that out of any experience good or bad, there is always more good. The “good” in this instance was provided by Uncle Sam in the form of a baseball scholarship to attend Duke University. Imagine — a Faith boy going to Duke in 1947. (Sorry, Carolina fans).
Here the world opened up for this young man. He always knew he would enter the literary field. He graduated from Duke University and went on to become editor of the Gaston Gazette. The pride this family has in his accomplishments is still felt today.
While at Duke another life-changing event took place. He met a lovely intelligent young lady from Baltimore named Betty Bockmillen. They were married in 1950 and are the proud parents of five successful children.
As I have said, many people influence you throughout your formative years and into adulthood. When I was little, my uncle gave me a nickname. He called me “Duck.” I assume it is because my name is Daisy.
He himself has many titles to his name. In Faith he is known as Darrell Brown Williams; in Gastonia, it’s Bill Williams which was also the name of the preceding editor of the Gastonia Gazette; to some he is still Freckles, but to me he has always been Unca Darrell. His influence has been present in my life many times – including his stamp of approval on the man of my choice. When you are growing up, you watch people you admire and try to emulate them.
So, on this Father’s Day, for you who have written about so many folks, this is my tribute. You have been a shining star to me and an example to many.
Happy Poppy’s Day, Unca Darrell, from Duck.