The King of Isabelle Avenue

I decided to take the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. When I told some friends at work the first thing they said was – “You’re finally gonna write that book about your dad – right?”

This is my pop as a clean-cut marine – with really big ears.

My father was the only son of one of the best story-tellers who ever lived on Isabelle Avenue in downtown Las Vegas. My Grandmother could tell you the story of her trip to the supermarket and it would be enthralling. She had a sense of exactly what details would captivate her audience. She loved the attention and we loved the stories. I always imagined Pop growing up in her shadow and wanting to have the biggest story.

The oddest thing about this photo is that we never saw things like this as even slightly odd.

I was in about 4th grade when I discovered that most of the stories Pop told lacked the ring of truth. He exaggerated details and added “facts” of his own choosing to make things seem both more fantastic and more believable. What Pop never understood was that his life was really the big story. The man pulled off some crazy things. Absurd, irreverent, silly, bizarre – he was all of these things – almost all the time.

I’m sure your dad could be found fighting a goat in buckskins on any given Saturday.

In truth, my pop was a complex person. He never grew up, he never wanted to – Peter Pan in all his glory. His escapades were fueled with Budweiser and a group of strange and wonderful friends who were all to willing to follow him on his journey like a modern-day pied piper.

I’m sure your dad drank moonshine from a crockery jug while wearing a bear claw necklace on your family vacations – don’t all dads?

What I want this project to be is fun and ironic – this is not an examination of the difficulties of living with Pop’s idiosyncrasies. I want this to be an exploration of the irony, the wonder, even the tenderness of a man who marched to the beat of his own drum (or maybe his own tuba).

If you would like to follow my progress, I’ll be posting excerpts and chronicling my experiences trying to pump out those 50,000 words on my new blog The King of Isabelle Avenue – I’d love to hear your comments. As of today there is nothing there but the About page that this post is based upon. I plan to start posting in earnest tomorrow!

Come along with me – there’s a good story in it. I should know, I come from a long line of story tellers.

18 thoughts on “The King of Isabelle Avenue

  1. I would have absolutely LOVED your Dad.

    (I come from a very conservative, traditional upbringing where you always had to look perfectly groomed and perfectly behaved. When travelling overseas in my twenties, the best part was being ‘free’ from that upbringing & influence).

    Now in ‘old’ age in retirement, I take great delight in living a lifestyle of my own choosing.

    • Pop grew up as the treasured only child of 2 parents that lived through the depression – they reveled in his individuality when he was a kid. My Grandmother was a lot like him – she lived an amazing life. Growing up in it was sometimes chaotic and I probably have sometimes wished there was a bit more consistency – but consistency doesn’t make for a good story:)

      It’s great that you have found your own path – I love being at an age where I’m no longer concerned about fitting in.

  2. I love the pics and the story already. I cannot wait to hear/see more. It would seem you have gleaned the best of your father and grandmother! I have a pied piper son. It can be thrilling and exhausting….. ♥ write on!

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