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Saturday, June 2, 2012

No. 104 "Never Again!" Daddy's job in Petersburg, VA

My father, Charlie Hancock, standing by
a sign announcing his charter business.

Not long after they were married, my father accepted the invitation of his father-in-law to become part of his dredge boat crew that was then working near Petersburg, VA.  Perhaps he had grown anxious about the responsibility of supporting a family by working the water. Or maybe he was allured by the thought of having a steady income, a sirens song that called more than one fisherman’s son from the Island to a mainland job.

Daddy's initial commitment required that he be gone for six weeks, but that might not have seemed so very long to someone who had his whole life still ahead of him. So off he went, leaving Mama, who was expecting their second child, and his son, Ralph, who was still less than a year old.

When he returned home after the first six weeks of his new career it became apparent that his mind had changed as to his interest in a dredging career. If his mind was not already made up, his decision was driven home for him when, as he greeted his family, Ralph ran from his grasp to the arms of Mama’s uncle, Telford. At that very moment he made a vow never again to allow that his children would prefer some other man over him.

So it was that almost immediately he announced that he had changed his mind about working on a dredge boat, or more specifically, about doing anything that took him away from his home and family after sundown. The rest of his life he would boast, or lament – depending on the occasion, that his first trip away from his family was also his last, and that if he had it to do over, he would have skipped that one as well!

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