coal miner’s granddaughter

Today is my dad’s birthday – Sept. 8th.

Albert Granville Rogers was born in Wales. His father was a coal miner. He was one of four children. The family immigrated to the United States sometime during the 1920s and eventually set up camp in a little town called Orient, Illinois.

He joined the Army during WWII and became a U.S. citizen. He liked to say he fought the “Battle of Las Vegas” because that is where he was stationed. It is also where he married my mom, Dorothea Cecilia Partridge. They had two wedding anniversaries – one from Vegas and the other from a Catholic church somewhere in Chicago where my grandmother promptly took them upon hearing the news of their nuptials.

The two of them moved to California at the encouragement of one of my dad’s Army buddies. My mom had never eaten Mexican food and felt a bit claustrophobic with all the mountains surrounding her. They eventually had nine children. She always said California was a great place to raise children (no snow clothes to bother with).

My dad never liked Richard Nixon or Prince Charles (said no Englishman should be Prince of Wales). He never thought much of the Catholic Church either, come to think of it, although he did convert to Catholicism sometime in the mid-60s. He loved horticulture and took night classes at Pierce College. He was smart, had beautiful handwriting and read a lot of books.

And he was loving. He was always trying to dance and sing to my mom. He said Welshmen had the best voices (Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck). My mom always said she was too busy feeding the kids to dance.

He liked to listen to the Ink Spots and Charley Pride and loved watching  All in the Family.

He walked two of his four daughters down the aisle, but died just a month before the next girl was to get married. My brother took his spot.

My mom still had four children at home – the youngest was my little sister who was 11. My dad was only 63.

My dad always had rough hands and deeply tanned skin, working outdoors most of his life. My brother still has one of his old work trucks. I had a baby a year after my dad died who looks just like him with the most beautiful crystal blue eyes. My oldest son carries his middle name as his own, and I have a nephew who fought in Afganistan named Albert.

My dad would be proud of how his large family still manages to stay close. He would be particularly proud of the fact he has more than 20 grandchildren and a couple of great-grand kids.

Yeah, he would love all that.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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