LA Union Station, musings about my father, and a lesson for young men dating

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I’ve loved LA Union Station since my first time there, when, watching with my parents as arriving passengers from the Super Chief came through the tunnel from the trains, I spotted my grandmother’s small hat with a feather.

But the picture above makes me think of my father. On my mother’s vanity she kept a framed picture of him in his Army uniform in Okinawa. As a budding homosexual boy, I was fascinated by the picture because his shirt was unbuttoned. (In first grade I had sexual fantasies in which the man who drove the school bus I rode did heroic things; Dad was not spared my sexual imaginings.)

My other half and I were playing cards with my mother years after his death, and she told us that she had nearly left him early in their marriage because he had regularly lost half of his grocery clerk paycheck playing poker on payday. I was amazed. Drinking a couple of cans of beer after work was the wildest thing I had known him to do.

She also told us, while we were playing cards, that when she and my father were dating he brought his checkers to her house and they played checkers, until one time she swept all the checkers off the board and, she said, he had to crawl around the living room floor and behind the furniture picking them up. “Well, he could have let me win sometimes.”

The pictures above and below are from Bill Bradley, The Last of the Great Stations.

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