Widgets Magazine

Sep 1, 2011

Strongest Man Alive

 A long time ago I promised you more stories about my amazing father-in-law. He passed away in 1989, but since my sweetie and I were married in 1983, I got to know him pretty well. For some strange reason he liked to talk to me. He was a wonderful man, kind and generous with his time and talents. He was a plumber by trade, but before that he was a Master Sergeant during World War II. He was strong and fit even in his later years when I knew him.

He often worked out of town as a contractor in Wendover, Nevada, helping to build some of the large hotels with casino money. This was a long drive for him since he lived in central Utah, so he usually stayed in Wendover all week and only came home on the weekends. One evening he was doing some work down in a manhole. His truck was parked nearby, loaded with supplies and tools. As he was working, he heard someone rustling through his things, so he climbed up out of the manhole and hollered, “Get away from there!” The thief sized him up, put down the tools he was about to pilfer, and picked up a hammer. He smacked my father-in-law with it, knocking him off the ladder and back into the manhole. Then he calmly proceeded to gather goodies from the truck. Imagine his surprise when a minute or so later my FIL poked his head out again and shouted, “I told you to get away from there!” The exact same scenario happened, and my FIL again ascended the ladder. The third time the thief was taking no chances. Instead of a hammer, he grabbed a 2” x 4” and slammed it right on my FIL’s head. It must have been incredibly difficult for him to drag himself back out of that hole, bruised and bleeding, but I think he knew that his livelihood depended on those tools and equipment. He had a family to think about. For a third time he crawled back up the ladder, broken but ready to fight for what was his. The thief eyed him incredulously. “You should be in the hospital!” he blurted. “You must be the strongest man alive. I’m leaving.” He dropped the tools and hustled off to find his next victim. And my FIL was…one of the strongest most stubborn men alive.

Sorry, crooked in the scrapbook.
When we were starving students, sometimes we would come down for the weekend and help with the garden in exchange for some vegetables. (Gas was cheap then.) Often my sweetie would help clean a few drains to give us enough to get by. Even when my FIL didn’t have extra work for my sweetie to do, he would insist on giving us a little. When I refused, he had a way of grabbing my wrist and putting me on my knees until I would agree. Yeah, it was a little humiliating…he could have just asked. I would have done anything for him.

My sweetie’s half-sister tells a story that was passed through her side of the family. During a training period while my FIL was in the war, someone said he could run faster than a deer. Others laughed at this speculation and it became a huge discussion point that couldn’t go unanswered. Hundreds of dollars were waged and a deer was brought in. My FIL was always willing to be a good sport. The distance was 50 yards, man against beast in a foot-race. The men crowded around, eager to watch this unlikely pair. The race was close and I guess it could be argued that fear was a factor, but my FIL crossed the finish line first. Not only the strongest man alive, but the fastest one too.


Erin said...

Your FIL sounds amazing! He is the strongest man alive! What a blessing! I can't believe that he was able to cause that thief to flee! Thank you for stopping by my blog. I left a follow up comment for you there!

Emmy said...

Holy cow! All incredible stories. I am so glad he didn't get really really hurt with the thief, that is crazy!

Emma Frances said...

He sounds like a truly amazing man! I love my Father-in-law too and he is very inspiring and humble. I love getting a whole new family when you get married! :)

M-Cat said...

What an awesome story and tribute.

And fun for your kids to have to pass on down


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