The Bledsoe Firm - January 2020

The Bledsoe Firm | 949.363.5551 JANUARY | 2020 THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MY FATHER Charles R. Bledsoe

wagon. Somehow, one of us shifted the car into neutral and released the emergency brake. As I recall, the car started rolling in reverse down the driveway. It went through the back alley and crashed into the neighbor’s block wall, breaking through to the other side. Well, my dad happened to be at home sick that day. So, he got up from bed, went to the hardware store, bought some blocks, and fixed the wall. Then he went back to work. He figured being at work would be more restful than being at home. A few years later, our family moved up to Agoura Hills. My dad wanted the best for us, so he made considerable sacrifices for us to live there. He was working for the LA County Fire Department and would work 24-hour shifts, as well as double shifts totaling 48 hours. The overtime was great. You’d work a shift and have a couple days off. It’s great if you have hobbies, and for my dad, his hobbies were his kids! But soon after we moved to Agoura, he got a business opportunity servicing bars and restaurants. It was a cleaning business, and he worked with various cleaning chemicals that we stored in the garage. On service days, he’d call from the fire department, where he still worked, to let us know he was going on his route. We needed to load up his 1965 Dodge van with approximately 90 gallon-sized bottles of detergent, chlorine, or other such chemicals. My dad bought the chemicals from the franchise. About a year into being a franchisee, he decided he could make more money if he mixed his own chemicals. We started mixing these chemicals in our garage. It got to the point that if you visited our house and walked into the garage, you’d think you walked into a brewery or a factory. We kept three 50-gallon vats to help Dad mix chemicals for his route. Some mornings, I’d have to get up before school to mix chlorine or soap. It was a lot of work. Then, we’d load the truck, and Dad would be off. I say all of this because I want to talk about one incident in particular. I was in the seventh grade, and one early morning, my mom got me up to mix and bottle the chemicals before my dad got home from the fire department. It was before school, and I was not in the mood to work for 2 1/2 hours mixing and bottling chlorine. So, I really let my mom have it. I yelled at her about how unfair it was that all of this work had been put on me. I wanted to go back to bed. I didn’t want to do any of this. Of course, I did the work very grudgingly. Then, I went to school. A few hours later, I was sitting in class when my dad walked into my classroom. When I saw him, I was both embarrassed that he was there and fearful that I was in big trouble. I thought to myself, “Oh boy, you have really done it this time.” He announced to my teacher that I was leaving and would not be back at school that

You grow up with a certain perspective on your family, but as you get older and raise your own children, you gain new insight into your childhood. I’ve reflected quite a bit on this the past several weeks, as my dad passed away in November. By the time my parents were 25, they had six children. That’s the age I got married. Looking back, my dad was gone working a lot. I often wonder what must have been going through his mind at such a young age with all these active little boys running around. I think he felt tremendous responsibility, and I appreciate the huge sacrifices he and my mom made to raise and support us. I can assure you that we were extremely active, energetic, and curious boys. I remember him coming home and being bone tired. Most of the time when he was home, I’d find him in a horizontal position, resting. He couldn’t always keep up with us. For example, when we lived in Anaheim, I was about 5, and I took a bunch of newspapers and matches out to our small side yard. I wanted to see if these newspapers would burn up. Well, they did, and my dad wasn’t particularly happy about that.

This was not an isolated incident. Not long after that, my brother David and I were playing in the family station

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