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Remembering William B. Dake on Father's Day
Photo illustration © Virginia McCorkell

Taking A Walk Down Memory Lane
In Honor Of Our Dad
by Gertrude Dake Pettit
Howard Lake, MN

As a small child I don't remember much about our dad, other than what our mother told me. She said when supper was over he would hold me in his lap, sitting by the big table so I could play. But as I grew, the memories of him grew also.

Dad's reprimand for me when I was a younger child was sitting on a chair, QUIETLY and NOT MOVING until he gave permission to get off the chair. That was usually at least an hour. Dad also believed that when adults were discussing current events, that children should be seen and not heard!

Dad was not hesitant to say NO if what we wanted to do wasn't to his liking. And we didn't plead nor argue with him about the answer NO. Of course, per normal, we sometimes tried to use Mom as the go-between.

When school was in session, and there was farm work to do, Dad never kept any of us home to help. He felt it was more important that we got our education. He wanted us to get a better one than he did, as he only went through the 8th grade.

As normal kids, there were times we didn't want to get out of bed in the mornings. Dad would go out to start the chores and Mom would come to the bottom of the stairway and call for us to get up, and the older ones were to go out and help Dad. If we were not up and out in a certain length of time, we would hear the house door open and heavy footsteps come to the stairway -- and before Dad's voice called out "GET UP!" five sets of feet would hit the floor and kids would grab for their clothes. I don't remember it happening too many times, but it did happen!

Dad would never do any extra work on Sunday, other than milking and animal feeding, as it was a day for worship and rest.

He made us rest even during the days we did field work in the summer. When we would come in for dinner, we would eat and then spend one hour resting. The kids would either lie on the floor in the living room or out on the front lawn. Dad would either lay his head down on his arms on the table or would stretch out on three chairs at the table. He could always take a nap in either one of those positions.

Dad was a very honest man. He would "short change" himself rather than let someone else lose a penny. He was above honest when, of his own will, he turned his driver's license back in to the state, because of his very poor eyesight.

Dad loved to have people come and visit with him, but didn't like going anywhere very well. He did not like going into town, because he felt people might think he had been drinking, when he couldn't keep his balance very well. The reason for that being later in life classified as Friedreich's Ataxia Syndrome, a neurological disorder.

Dad was a man who believed in keeping everything in the best shape. When he repaired a building, you knew it would never fall down, Where most men would pound in two nails, Dad would use at least four. Even after he retired, he kept a few sixpenny nails in his overall pocket. One day as he was getting the tractor ready for field work, he thought he heard an unusual noise in the motor, so he had me drive the tractor to Cokato to the repair shop. After checking it over and finding nothing wrong, Mr. Koglin told me to take it back home and to tell Bill to quit listening to it!

Speaking of Dad's overall pocket, how many grandkids remember sitting on Grandpa's lap and listening to his pocket watch tick? And how many remember the jokes Grandpa loved to tell them? Do you remember any of the elephant jokes?

I have seen tears of fun and tears of sorrow. He used to listen to a record made by Bill Cosby. It was a very funny record about Bill Cosby and his brother, and Dad would laugh until the tears would come. And the tears of sorrow I saw when Dorothy contracted polio.

Our Dad was not an outwardly emotional person. I have no memory of getting a hug or a kiss or a spoken "I love you" from him. But I know he loved us by the way he provided for us, during good times and bad. The word LOVE can be said by anyone, and mean nothing, but when it is lived out in a person's life for you to see, that is when it is real. And that is how our father told us he loved us.

These word describe the kind of man our dad was:
Faithful -- (loyal to one's promise and duty) He was faithful to God -- to our mother -- to his children -- to his friends
Amicable -- (friendly, peaceable)
Trustworthy -- (worthy of trust, confidence, reliable)
Harbor -- (to give shelter or refuge)
Emotion -- (any of the feelings of joy or sorrow)
Repair -- (to restore to a good state)

I am thankful that he was the man in our lives that we could say "Happy Father's Day" to.

William B. Dake
born Jan. 22, 1900 - died Oct. 19, 1973

It was very typical for him to sit with his hands like that... --Ginny Dake McCorkell.

Dad did not have the same ebullient personality as Mom -- but he was a wonderful family man who worked hard to help all of his family. He was stern, and very strict, so he took understanding -- but I loved him dearly and still dream about him on occasions. He had many light hearted times, too. --Dorothy Dake Anderson.

Bibbed denim overalls suited his style for everyday wear.

Our Dad had a suit for weddings and funerals -- and important events that didn't rate a suit at least had dress pants, shirt and tie ... but I do believe the rest of his life was spent in a pair of bibbed, striped denim "overalls" ... mostly Lees, if I remember right ... with a good, sturdy, blue chambray work shirt (washed until it was paper thin!) and "Red Wing" work shoes from Thelander's Clothing Store of Cokato. So the pictures should include one where he was dressed that way. --Dorothy Dake Anderson.

Grandpa Dake wearing "wild" tie.

I have a really hard time picturing Grandpa Dake in a tie like this ... ha! ... even though it is a fuzzy picture, taken when Carol Dake Printz was a toddler, it might be worth using as I am sure that the other cousins would enjoy seeing it as well! --Ginny Dake McCorkell.

The wildest tie our dad had was one that appeared very respectable and was worn to very respectable places ... but then one time he happened to notice while tying it that it had a very curvy (though tiny) nude on the back ... so this gift that came from Bill and Lois for Father's Day disappeared from sight. Lois assured us that when she bought it she thought the very sober color would be right for Dad. I wonder if the salesperson got a chuckle. --Dorothy Dake Anderson.

He Was MY Grandpa, Too
by Steve Miller
Coral Springs, FL

Awhile ago, Shari wrote a nice article for The Bulletin, which she titled "MY" Grandpa. Wow, I thought, What a nice tribute to a wonderful Grandpa. You know, I should share a few of my memories of him, too.

Well, I just never got around to it. Now it is Father's Day ... that and a little prodding from certain quarters ... and so here goes!

Grandpa Dake was, in my eyes, just as wonderful as Grandma Dake, but in a totally different way. Grandma was talkative; Grandpa was quiet. Grandma was excitable; Grandpa was calm. Grandma would get flustered; Grandpa was unflappable. They were opposites, but a great pair!

Grandpa Dake had many unique ways of doing things on their farm. The screen door on the back porch, for instance. Most of you would know that screen doors had a spring that would pull them shut after kids went in or out and invariably forgot to close them. Not Grandpa Dake's. His had a counterweight connected by a small rope through a series of pulleys that would pull it shut. Neat! (I wonder how many hundreds of times we kids were chased away from there!) The stairs going to the second floor had a banister on one side but the other side had a thick rope with knots tied every foot or so, instead of a wood handrail.

Backing a four-wheel wagon with a tractor is a very difficult, but necessary, maneuver on a farm. If you don't think so, just try it! Most farmers just leave the wagon hooked to the back of the tractor and back up with their neck craned around, desperately turning left, then right, then left, attempting to get the obstinate wagon somewhere (anywhere!) into the shed. Not Grandpa Dake. He had a hitch on the front of his Ford tractor, as well as the back. So he could sit comfortably on the tractor seat and easily steer it wherever he wanted it.

Although he was quite a serious person, grandpa Dake had a great sense of humor. It was not really a "ha ha" type of humor, more of a wry, dry humor. For example, Shari told of Snooks and her built-in washcloth. He had me half convinced one time that he was going to get a pig with a zipper in its side so whenever Grandma needed bacon, he could just open the zipper, take out a pound, and zip it back up.

I can remember begging him to have old Tippy sing for us. He would blow across the top of a Pepsi bottle and Tippy would howl in tune with the whistle! Great fun! Grandpa had lots of little poems that were very entertaining. I have forgotten most of them but I do have a couple still rattling around my head:

I am like the native Hindu, who does what he kin do; if he doesn't have shirt or pants, he simply lets his skin do! Or:

I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life; it makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife.

He kept us kids well entertained! And speaking of entertainment, all I remember in that department is Honest-to-Goodness and Twins baseball on WCCO radio.

If we kids were really good, after supper Grandpa would bring out his little box of special toys. He had a cigar box full of the most wonderful little gadgets, gizmos and toys imaginable. I don't remember everything that was in there but there was a miniature revolver. (The cylinder turned just like a real one!) My favorite was a pair of white and a pair of black Scottie dogs on magnets. We would take one of them and try to sneak up on the other and we could get just so close and the polarity would snap it around. Pretty cool stuff!

Grandpa Dake had a way of making each of us grandkids feel special, and although I don’t ever remember him saying it verbally, we knew he loved us.

Grandpa Dake's Tool Shed

Their farm had so many interesting places to explore (but never, never Grandpa's tool shed!) and things to do (get into!). --Steve Miller.

I don't think I'll ever forget the "privilege" of being "grandpa's eyes." That's what he called it when you went out to the oil-smelling shop and helped him fix up something for Grandma. He'd ask you to help get the screwdriver in the right spot, or put the screw in the hole. I'll always remember the rides on the little Ford tractor and the nails he kept in his pocket that he had "just in case." In fact I have one of those for a "keepsake" after he died. --Patty Anderson Henderson.

I think something I kind of missed with the first read was the simple, touching eloquence of Patty's piece about Grandpa Dake. I can just see a little Patty Dee in that old work shed, and when I was reading her essay I could actually smell that old work shed! --Douglas Anderson.

Photo © Larry McCorkell
Grandpa Dake with constant companion, Snooks.

His tongue in cheek sense of humor was fun ... when I would sit on the floor by his big wooden rocker ... and Snooks would lean down and lick my face, he said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could carry a washcloth to clean up with anytime ... just like Snooks does?" Which would make me giggle every time. --Shari Miller Larson.

I remember sitting on the back porch of our new house in the country with Grandpa Dake and watching the men move their new trailer next to us. We sat there and visited and what was the most special was that he didn't talk to me like I was a kid, but like I was all grown up. I don't remember what we talked about, but I still remember how I felt talking to him. --Marlene Anderson Johnson.

Grandchildren enjoyed being "Grandpa's Eyes."

I especially remember Uncle Bill, sitting in his chair, not seeing well, but listening intently to everything being said and done, and how he always, always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone, and how he seemed to enjoy the children, especially. --Diana Mellon Martin.

One very vivid memory that I have is of Grandpa Dake eating onions. He would sit and eat them whole, like anybody else might eat an apple, occasionally pausing to season with a little salt. I guess that really made an impression on my little 3- or 4-year-old mind, because in a haystack of memories, that one sticks out like a pin. --Douglas Anderson.

After they moved over to our house on Hwy. 12, Grandpa and Grandma let us play the record player for hours. I can't imagine hearing the same tunes over and over and over again, but that's what happened. Imagine, they invented Karaoke before anyone else! I wonder where those records are ... hum a few bars and I bet I could still join in! --Patty Anderson Henderson.

When I was young, Grandpa would visit with me, as though I were an adult. I felt so mature and listened so carefully to him. I loved the stories he told, some being purely fictional. (Hear that thunder? That's God rolling coal into the basement!) Other stories were of his youth in Montana and things he'd done while growing up. I remember one he claimed something about someone's tonsils being cut out on the way to or from school. (Anyone remember the real story?)

I enjoyed visiting the barn and various other out buildings with Grandpa. (Ardis drew a picture of the farm from many years ago; it brought back so many memories! Thanks, Ardis!) The smells were different in each particular building, seems I can bring them to mind even yet -- the mustiness of the straw, the manure smell from the pens, the dusty smell of the lesser used areas, the shop smell, and then the various animal smells. They were good smells to me as a child, following after her beloved grandfather!

My Grandpa also stressed to me being honest. He was such a very honest man and I admired him for all he stood for. He taught me about children's need to respect their elders. When Grandpa said, "Stop," we stopped! I could also see how much he loved each of his grandchildren and wanted the best for them. I can see him sitting with my dog, Snooks, on his crossed arms, listening to WCCO radio, more than likely Honest to Goodness or Top of the Foshay Tower. --Donna Anderson Johnson.

Now my Grandpa Dake was a very special man ... no matter what ... he was always happy to see ME. He seemed to enjoy it if I would just come and spend time hanging out with him. How special it was to be the recipient of such unconditional love! He was interested in hearing all about my life ... always had time to listen ... AND ... the very best part ... he would share stories of his childhood ... over and over and over ... as I just loved to hear all about them, over and over and over. --Shari Miller Larson.

William Benjamin Dake and Amy May Mellon Dake
on their wedding day, September 3, 1919
Click here to read more "About Bill and Amy Dake"

The Bill and Amy Dake Family

That's Billy, then "Mom" (Amy) holding Gert. (I would say she was about 6 months, old which would make the photo date 1932), LeRoy (Bubsy), "Dad" (William B.) Dake, Dorothy, and Blanche. That is in front of the home place where we had many enjoyable times! --Tom Miller

Bill & Amy Dake holding four grandchildren.

The four little ones with Mom and Daddy are Donna Anderson and Duane Miller and Steve Miller and Ernie Dake. --Gert Dake Pettit.

Photo © Larry McCorkell
54th Wedding Anniversary, 1973.

Special thanks to Ginny Dake McCorkell for her work on the photos. Quoted material in the photo captions was mostly gleaned from The Bulletin archives.

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