Happy Birthday Dad!
He was born Melvin Charles Updegraff December 10, 1910, in Bethany, Missouri. He passed away January 19, 1992 in Bethany, Missouri. He hated the name Melvin Charles so he had it legally changed to Bud. He was and still is one of the greatest men I have ever known. One of my many regrets in life is that I never really told him how much I admired and loved him.
He was born with a defect ind his left leg, which gave him a noticeable limp as a young man. He could never keep up with the other kids in sports so he spent a lot of his time hunting and fishing. A botched operation left him even more crippled but he never complained. I don’t ever remember him not limping.
Like many men of his era he wanted desperately to join the Army to fight in World War II. Because of his leg they wouldn’t take him, even though he argued with the Army that he was fully capable of driving a truck or a tank. He was devastated. As you can see in the image above he was finally reduced to using crutches to get around and in his final years he was confined to a wheel chair.
It never stopped him though. He was a mechanic (self-taught) and had an auto repair shop in our home town of Ridgeway, which he operated with his Father. He went broke because he didn’t charge a fair price and gave away a lot of his work to his farmer friends who couldn’t pay him. Many times I remember my Mother saying, Bud you at least have to cover the costs of the parts. I don’t think he ever had two quarters to rub together at one time.
Later he went to work for a large Quarry operation as a mechanic and finally driving a gravel truck. Before the Americans With Disability law he built a hand clutch for the truck he drove so that he could keep his job. Built it on his own time and with his own money. He was up at 4:00 a.m. every day, worked until 6:00 p.m. and worked 6 days a week, never once complained. I asked him about it once and he simply said, “Davy, I’m so thankful I can work.”
When the state passed a law that all gravel trucks had to have their load covered with a tarp he designed a spring-loaded covering that he could crank open and closed from his cab. The materials and the work were on him.
When he finally retired, he drove a truck for the sheltered workshop delivering and picking up products and also chauffeuring the “kids” to and from work. Finally he would mow the neighbor’s yards with his old lawn tractor that barely ran but it gave him a little spending money.
Shortly after I was born he was the manager of a lumber yard in Minneapolis, Kansas. He had a promising career for a young man with an 8th grade education. He could figure the materials for building an entire house and there wasn’t more than a wheel barrow worth of left over materials. He was ripping some lumber with a radial arm saw and cut all of his fingers off of his right hand. There was no workers’ compensation in those days so his company fired him because they said he wouldn’t be able to do his job and they didn’t even pay his medical bills.
When people met my Dad for the first time they were sometimes taken aback when he would thrust his fingerless hand to shake theirs. The loss of fingers didn’t slow him down a bit. I can still remember him grasping a small nut or screw between his thumb and the tiny stub that used to be his little finger. He never complained about the loss of his fingers or his handicap leg even though I know there were times his leg hurt so much he could hardly stand it.
The little dog on his lap is Tippy. He loved that dog so much. He had always had dogs but Tippy was his favorite. When Tippy died some of my Dad died with him. He was never the same.
I found a picture the other night of Dad that I had never seen. It is the only time I have ever seen him with fingers on his right had.
He was a tough disciplinarian and was strong as a rock but he was also a gentleman who wouldn’t know how to do something wrong if he tried.
I think about you a lot Dad and so many times I wish had told you just how proud I was and am of you and how much I love you.
I remember your dad’s jolly ole laugh Dave. It was always fun to visit with him and you never knew whether he was serious or kidding you till he would laugh and smile. Indeed he was a great man and missed by many. I can see him in you with some of the things you do. The apple did not fall far from the tree. Both your parents were a joy to know and be around. Loved them both.
Thank you Daryl, how very kind of you to say that. Our parents were the salt of the earth. I will never forget Tuffy and all the good times I had listening to his stories. We were both very lucky.
Take care my dear Friend.