A father has a tribute to all fathers

General George Washington led his army of patriots to defeat the British Army in the Revolutionary War, and declared our freedom and independence from the British hierarchy. Washington ultimately became our first president, and became known as the “FATHER of Our Great Country.”

John Thomaides was my FATHER, and the FATHER of three more sons and a daughter. My oldest brother, Tommy died of an unintentional, careless error of poisoning at age five. I was 3. I attended my first funeral to see a large hole in the ground.

My Dad was born in northern Greece in November, 1890. With only a 4th grade education and an unknown small amount of money, he sailed on a very overloaded steamship to emigrate to America in 1914. He moved in with relatives in Detroit, Michigan.

World War I began in Europe in 1914. America became involved in WW I in 1917.

After working on a few odd jobs, Dad joined the U. S. Army in 1917. He was assigned to the 85th Infantry Division. After a few months of basic training, his unit sailed to France. Shortly thereafter, the 85th Division was reassigned to serve in northern Russia, 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle where they experienced weather temperatures down to 30 degrees below zero. The soldiers nicknamed their military unit as the “POLAR BEAR DIVISION.”

Several very odd situations developed. These American soldiers had to serve under British officers whose english they had difficulty in understanding and obeying orders. Worse than that was the Americans needed to learn and use French weapona…. and continue to wear unifoms that were not suited to North Pole conditions… and their forlorn sleeping arrangements were the sleeping bags they laid on the snow-piles after their “barracks” had burned completely… and the very worst of all their miserable conditions was they didn’t know their purpose or mission to be lodged in such a barren, frozen location.

Fortunately, one day at “roll-call,” Dad met another countryman from Greece named Arthur Zoyiopoulos. They became very good friends. In fact, when these two soldiers returned to America, Arthur’s sister Maria married John and they became my parents. As a result of having served in the U. S. Army, both men, and thousands of other service earned their American citizenship.

Dad went to court and had his last name changed from Tho-ma-ides to THOMAS. He often said, “I got tired of people pronouncing my name that sounded like TO-MA-TOES, so I pulled the “ide” out of “THO-MA-(ide) S, pushed the “S” up to THOMA, and my name became THOMAS.”

Arthur Zoyiopoulos would not change his name although he allowed for people to call him “TOM” … so when his sister, Maria married John, Tom became my Uncle Tom (after I was born.) Uncle Tom also became a FATHER of three sons.

My FATHER became a barber and operated his own shop starting in “The Roaring 20’s.” He had an attention-getting red and white barber-pole near the entrance to his shop. Cutting hair and facial shaves enabled my FATHER to open a second barber-shop, and he hired two barbers in each shop. Dad prospered through the 1920’s until the 1929 “Great Depression.” Many men, out of work, no longer could afford to have their hair cut as often as usual. Fewer men wanted professional shaves after the long-lasting “safety razors” was invented, and less expensive “shaving creams and after-shave” lotions were sold in the local drugstores.

I remember in the 1940’s, haircuts were 25¢, shaves were 15¢’ and I shined men’s shoes for 5¢ on Fridays after school, and all day on Saturdays. Dad and I were often “paid” with home grown fruits and vegetables. Whenever some FATHERS came into the barbershop with a few sons, they paid Dad with a live chicken for all the haircuts and shaves they received.

And during the time my FATHER suffered the agonies of stomach cancer, he determined he and my mother would ride the train from Detroit to witness my wedding in Durham, North Carolina.

A few years later my parents came to my home in Lakewood, California, primarily to see my son, Tim, be baptized. Dad was so happy and glad to complete his final mission in life. Soon after his return to Detroit, Dad’s horrendous disease caused his death.

How lucky I am to have had a FATHER-IN-LAW (and mother-in-law) to have borne and raised such a beautiful daughter to whom I have been married to for over 66 years; and has helped me raise our three wonderful kids. I’m happy and proud to be the FATHER of three bright, happy, and successful kids; and the GRANDFATHER of seven aspiring grandkids.

My two sons-in-law, each, are FATHERS to two children of their own.

My brother is the FATHER of five lovely daughters, and GRANDFATHER to eight grandkids.

Most men, worldwide, primarily of their own choosing, will also become FATHERS and/or GRANDFATHERS. God bless them all.

Attention, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandmothers, aunts, etal, enjoy your relationship with your FATHER, not only on FATHERS’ DAY but everyday, in one way or another—WHILE YOU CAN.

We thank our SUPREME FATHER, of whatever religion or none, for all the goodness HE has bestowed on each of us. “HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY” to all.