My dad’s birthday is today. Happy Birthday, Daddy. I miss you every day.
My father didn’t make it to ninety-eight to celebrate today in his Camden home, He lived only to eighty-three. I have to squinch back the tears.
I’m sharing a happy photo of my dad, Bill Wunsch, Jr., with three of his favorite beautiful people…Cass Lewis, the wife of his best friend, Ed; Marguerite Wunsch, my mom; Marie Wunsch, his sister. There they are–under the boardwalk at Wildwood, New Jersey–back in the fifties.
What sweet Wildwood vacations my dad and our family shared with the Ed and Cass Lewis and their two sons, Eddie and Bobby! Sometimes other Wunsch family members came with us, my Aunt Marie or my grandfather, Charles Wunsch. My dad got up at six a.m. to cook breakfast for my grandfather while the rest of us slept. My mom said she was on vacation–that was too early for her to cook! My aunt stayed up late with us kids and she taught us to sing, “Found a Peanut.” How can I remember that?
My brother, Billy, and I played on the beach with the two Lewis boys. The chatting adults kept an eye on us as we dug in the hot sand and sometimes under the boardwalk in the wet, cold sand. In spite of our families’ caution, one summer Bobby Lewis and I got lost on the beach. When the fathers found us standing on a stranger’s towel to keep our feet from burning, our dad’s faces burned with anger and relief. They had told us to stay near the red and white beach umbrella. We did, but we had walked to the wrong red and white umbrella!
Sometimes those vacations coincided with Dad’s birthday. I remember my mom gave him new swim trunks for his birthday one year and he opened the tissue paper wrapped gift. We all watched him open it in that living room of the tiny rented cottage across from the Wildwood train station. Dad didn’t care much about clothing so I remember him not jumping up and down with joy. Perhaps he would have enjoyed wearing his old trunks for the rest of his life. He probably would have liked a six-pack instead.
Dad loved that annual week at the shore. He worked all year in hard jobs so that week off with family and friends meant the world to him. I’m sure that Mom and he were proud to give us kids a real vacation–a rented cottage, beach and boardwalk. I’m grateful for those memories.
So many good memories. I was blessed. Thanks, Dad and Mom.
So, Happy Birthday, Daddy! I hope you are having a beer and a hot dog on the beach somewhere up in Heaven with Mom, your friends and all loved ones who have passed on. Love you so much…
Thanks to Ed/Bob Lewis for the photo. Priceless. Thank you.
Marguerite (Wunsch) Ferra
Cramer Hill resident