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It’s alright to call me ‘little Jim’

Considering today marks Fathers’ Day, it didn’t take me too long to decide on what to write about. The only problem in write about my father is simply picking one thing to write about.

In addition to growing up in “his” house, I had the luxury of attending school nearly everyday of my elementary, middle and high school years on the same campus as the honorable James Robert Reeves Jr.

As a high school teacher for about 145 years — at least that was the math he used — my father had almost reached legendary status through the school long before I stepped into the high school wings.

For as long as I could remember at the time, I was around the high school students, been to senior events and even helped in arranging chairs for the graduation ceremonies my father helped organize. In fact, I probably need to check into child labor laws and see if I still have a claim.

And, up until at least my sophomore year in high school, I was commonly referred to by upperclassman as “little Jim.”

I remember being at drama club practices as my father worked to fine tune the organization’s next performance. And, to this day, I find myself laughing at the memory of him rolling empty Coke glass bottles (yes, they were once glass) across the stage during rehearsal to remind a flat-footed actor of the need to move about the stage.

My father had not always been a teacher. He spent a number of years in the United States Coast Guard, serving a duty stations throughout the country and had done a tour aboard an Arctic icebreaker and a tour in Vietnam.

He also spent four years in a Mobile, Ala. until my mother had given him the “be a father or be a cop” ultimatum.

As a teacher, my father brought together the proper amount fear and humor that earned him the respect of his peers and students. He was not only tough in the classroom but a classroom you didn’t want to miss.

In my sophomore year, I had the chance to be both his son and a student as I was assigned his sophomore English class. To this day, I can still recite portions of Julius Caesar, but never with the passion and flare he did when teaching it. It was part education, part drama. The display would have both impressed and disturbed Shakespeare.

My dad had often joked about retirement. He said his dream job was to be a greeter at Wal-Mart and has even come up with his welcoming address for incoming customers.

It goes something like, “Welcome to Wal-Mart. Get your stuff and get out.”

Having now been retired for a number of years, he and my mother, also a retired teacher of 30-plus years, fill their days cutting their grass within an inch of its life, cleaning the house to near surgical cleanliness, planting and replanting flowers so often that even Disney World’s landscapers would be impressed and doting over the nieces and nephews.

On this day of days to honor your father, I take note of the great stories that involve my father. And considering his personality, I only tremble a little at the stories that may come.

Happy Fathers’ Day, dad, from your loving son, “little Jim.”