Wesley Gibson Hall (1926-1983)My father was a wry, humanistic, sensitive man. Also an intolerant spiteful bastard. I didn't know him for that long, but we enjoyed games together. I think we respected each other, but I was not old enough to fully engage him before he died.
He was a lean, broad man just over six feet tall who developed a bit of a pot belly as he aged and continued to drink and smoke. His skin was a crisp pink, he sat under sun lamps to maintain a luxuriant radioactive glow. He had a large open face. His hair was thin straight silver.
Conservative as hell in his politics - rock-ribbed republican, he wrote curmudgeonly letters, made waves in his community. He had a decent gun collection, which he used on at least one occasion to dispatch some burglars.CHILD CARE- attorneys' family on nr. North desires reliable woman to live in on weekends & care for 2 boys, ages 3 & 7, from Fri. PM to Sun. PM. Must be energetic & enjoy children. Salary:$60 per weekend. Call Mrs. Hall, 222-9350x346
He was liberal in his musical tasters. I remember he used to play folksongs a lot, he linked to sing along with them. He played for me Peter Paul and Mary, and Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte or Tom Lehrer. Touching moments on a couch as a young boy, he would sing along songs to me.
rumour has it, once,
Sitting as he did, in the coach house behind our house, he saw some men prowling through unannounced. Torn between putting his family at risk with frontal assault, or police involvement, he opted for shooting the windows out of their getaway car, parked in the alley behind. It worked, they left, the family unharmed, and tons of consumer electronics stacked neatly by the door.
Chris remembers visiting the house in Chicago, and him answering the door in a robe with his gun drawn.
I remember once coming downstairs during a big thunderstorm and he was out with a drink in the garden, dancing wet on the bricks in his light blue boxers.He was born February 5, 1926, in Evanston, Illinois. His mother, Bernadine, died when he was nine months old. His father, John, remarried Catharine, Dad and her never got along. He went to live with his grandparents, with whom he was very close.
Dad never graduated from University of Illinois undergraduate before he went to law school. He tried out for the navy, but an injury kept him out.
He married Jane in September of 1949. They had two daughters, Chris and Lynn. The lived in Hinsdale, a white western suburb of Chicago.
He was a corporate lawyer at the firm Jenner and Block. He worked with big corporations like General Dynamics and Ceco steel, performing mergers, serving as general counsel.
There he met my mother, a up and coming young female attorney. Both were caught up in unhappy marriages when they had an affair together.
Three or four years later, they birthed Colin Michael. I found a letter that my father wrote after the birth of my brother where he extolled the virtues of raising children with nannies - "You only have to see the child for an hour a day, at feeding time."
By the time they had me, in 1974, my Mom reports that divorce was imminent. She decided to stay on because she belived that my father would fall apart without her.He had been an alcoholic for many years, before my mother married him. There was little she could do to stave his descent into depression - his health and morale continued to deteriorate. Once he tried to stop cold turkey and his body shut down - he passed out cold. His body could not survive without alcohol.
I remember him spending much of his time alone in the coach house, a little two story behind our four story house in Chicago. He would sit in there alone, drinking and reading trashy murder mysteries and spy novels.
I would go over to visit, we'd play chess or cards; gin rummy mostly.
One time I remember going over there and spying a little gun holding his place in his book. "A toy for me!" I exclaimed, and picked up the barretta. Fortunately, it was on safety.
My father killed himself on November 14, 1983, when I was eight, four days before my brother's thirteenth birthday. Gramma says I was the last one to talk with him. He left a note and an obituary. General Dynamics sent us a foot tall majestic porcelain fighting eagle. A family friend, John Tucker, wrote a eulogy that probably describes him better than I can.
I can't really remember his voice, but I still dream about him. Some of my most potent writing is about him.
other folks have been have mourning their fathers online.
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justin hall | <justin at bud dot com>