On Christmas, my brother brought some unexpected loot: A stash of the yardsticks my father used to hand out to promote his plumbing business. These were all over the house when I was a kid, and I hadn’t seen one in years. These were produced so long ago, that the phone number still uses the exchange name “Edgewood,” instead of being entirely numeric. Very cool.
Oh, and did I mention these were also my father’s weapon of choice?
My dad was a great guy, but not shy about meting out corporal punishment. Now, if he were in a hurry he’d just use his hands or whip off the belt, but when there was time to plan, he’d reach for 36 inches of pain: the John L. Madeo yardstick. I should note, he’d often bundle several yardsticks together in his meaty hand when dispensing justice.
I know what you’re thinking. Look, they were different times, and I know now he was doing his best. And frankly, we were probably asking for it.
My father lost his dad when he was very young. My grandfather, Louis Madeo, was know as a bit of a hot-head, which certainly contributed to him being gunned down in the Bronx in 1934. Did he pass this trait down through the generations?
My father was only seven-years-old when it happened.
My memories of my father are all good. He worked hard and made a great home for us. Like everybody, he had his issues. Today I laugh about some of the things he did, especially when he lost his temper. I tell people about his antics and they don’t look amused, but it’s funny to me. I know my older brothers got it worse than me, so I don’t know how they feel when holding one of those yardsticks in their hand.
I put the yardstick up on the wall in garage by the door and I walk past it every day. It will never come down, except maybe to sometimes take measure of things.