I love my dad. Ralph Lewis Croy was born in Henryetta, Oklahoma on November 27, 1912 and died in Sacramento, California on May 12, 2004. In between, he reveled in the outdoors, mathematics, history, and family.
He loved to fish and spent time as a young adult fly-fishing in Colorado. His idea of a vacation was throwing us all in the back of the station wagon and camping from California to Wyoming. I relish the memory of us on his little aluminum fishing boat on Lewiston Lake in Trinity County, him leaning over me, helping me unhook the perch I’d caught, smiling his half smile. I really didn’t like perch, too bony, but I loved my dad.
He combined his love of math and the outdoors into a career surveying, studying long hours through a mail order course to gain his training following his stint in the army in WWII. His job took us to Trinity County where I grew up and where he surveyed the Trinity portion of the California water project from its beginnings in 1955 to its completion in 1965. I loved living in that mountain paradise, and love my dad for taking us there.
Besides sitting and working out complex math problems for fun, keeping up with his very liberal politics, (As a product of the depression, a Roosevelt man, his greatest regret was ever voting for Nixon.), he read history voraciously, both fiction and nonfiction. On our long family vacations, we stopped at every roadside historical marker and every history museum. It was never boring, whether because I was born to love it or I just loved my dad, I will never cipher.
He loved his family, close and historic. A quiet man, he could wax poetic about riding the rails (and his mother’s shock seeing her dirt-worn son returning home,) or the escapades of his uncles (shot in a poker game, died in WWI, coal mining accidents,) or his sons’ homers that won the game. I was his princess, and a favorite tale was of taking me to see Lady and the Tramp where I happily showed everyone my new, ruffled underwear. He wanted me to study engineering, he engaged me in civil and intelligent debate, and he always asked me, “What do you think?” I hear him asking it of me even now. This happened when women’s equality was not yet correct (and when he really preferred his wife to serve a wifely role,) and I love him for it.
He is a part of me, visits me often. I love you dad, Happy Fathers Day.