There is a special bond between fathers and daughters. No one can explain it, but we all know it exists. I have always felt it with my dad. I see it with my husband and our two daughters. I see it when my son holds his 3-week-old daughter and the way my two other granddaughters light up when their dad walks into the room. There is no doubt in my mind.
My dad is William Cobb, known to everyone around here as Bill. In fact, many people don’t even know me as Susan Lyons, only as Bill Cobb’s daughter. We have even had people call the office asking to speak to Bill’s daughter.
He was born in Millville on June 11, 1926. Yes, he literally was born in Millville, on Club House Road. As the story was told by my grandmother, she was out picking strawberries when she went into labor. She sent one of the kids to go and fetch Doc Hocker, who had an office on Route 26. But by the time the Doc got there, “Billy had come to town.” That was a typical phase that my grandmother would use.
So “Billy” grew up in Millville, where his father was a carpenter. Times being the way they were back then, his father would often go to Philadelphia to build homes up there, being away from home sometimes for months. His mother was the local midwife and, as she would often say, she “born most of the folks around here.”
In those days, she would move in with the expectant family for the last week or so and stay for about a week after the baby was born. The older kids were left in charge to raise the younger kids – my dad being the youngest. Needless to say, there are many family stories about some of the things the kids got into while the parents were away.
In the 1940’s, World War II broke out, and dad left to join the Navy. He served on a minesweeper traveling around the Pacific. More good stories here, I’m sure, but not ones to tell today.
After the war, he met Mom, who had moved here with her family from Prospect Park, Pa. Her parents had bought Doc Hocker’s place on Route 26 and opened a cut-rate drugstore and ice cream parlor. They later sold it to the Winterbottoms.
Dad has always had a love for cars. When he was young, he was constantly trading cars, sometimes keeping them for only a few months. His car, to this day, is always spotless.
When I was young, I remember what a big deal it was when the new cars came out. We would go to Georgetown, to Warren’s Motors. Dad was a big Chevrolet man back then. They would stay open late on the first day that the new cars arrived and have big celebrations. Sometimes there were street dances, with live music, and Mr. Warren would always give me a mini replica of the newest model car. I wonder what happened to all of them? Most likely, they are big collector items now.
Over the years, it seems that the small things in life end up being the ones that are the fondest memories. Playing catch in the back yard, working together on a school project or one for 4-H or watching the Friday-night boxing matches.
Dad worked for Murray’s Hatchery when I was young, and sometimes I would go with him to pick up eggs or to deliver them to another hatchery — a road trip in the big panel truck, and maybe we would stop somewhere for lunch or ice cream on the way back, and that suited me just fine.
I guess my favorite thing to do with dad was to go to Harrington Fair. Every year, we would go to the 500-lap stock-car race. That was way before NASCAR was the in thing to do.
Before the race, we would walk around and check out the animals, watch demonstrations on the newest slicing-and-dicing kitchen aid, critique the guy who painted on glass, ride a few rides and try to win some prizes playing the games. He was always pretty good at them. Good enough to impress me anyway, putting that backspin on a softball to get it to stay in the basket or knowing just where to hit the milk bottles to knock them down, winning me a stuffed animal.
Dad has never been one to just sit around. He is always busy. He always worked two jobs, working at Murray’s (later, Cargill) and painting signs during evenings and weekends. In fact, to this day, he still paints small signs or letters a truck or boat once in a while. He is one of the few that still hand-letters, a lost art nowadays. Most signs are now done on computers.
As I drive up and down Route 26, I can easily pick out a sign that my dad has painted. I know his technique, the type styles he likes and the colors he uses.
He is always puttering on something, and if he can’t fix it, he will remake it. He still helps me with projects that I am working on. I know that I get my creative side from him.
I’m sure the guys at Munford’s Sheet Metal love it when he walks in the door. He has brought them some interesting things to make. This last one has them wondering why on earth I would want a metal lining for a rotted-out box and why I just wouldn’t throw it away.
There is one thing that dad can really do well, and that is talk. Oh, boy, can that man talk. He can walk up to a complete stranger and just start up a conversation. A lot of people can’t do that. Sit him in the middle of the mall while the rest of us go shopping, and you will come back to a man that has three other guys with him, discussing all kinds of things.
That’s just one of the many special things I think of when I think of my dad. So many interesting stories and great memories…
So, on this Father’s Day, take a few minutes to think about your dad and remember some of the special times that you have shared together. To all the dads out there, and especially to my dad, “Happy Father’s Day.”