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Jun-19-2011 12:49printcomments

If Your Dad is Around, Tell Him 'Happy Father's Day'

Give your dad a hug for me.

Tim King's dad Charles King
Tim King's dad Charles King around 2002, on a 1913 Harley Davidson single cylinder that he restored from the ground up.

(SALEM, Ore.) - I lost my dad very quickly three summers ago and incredibly, my mom died the same day. I can try to communicate in a few words what kind of people they were.

Charles & Nellie King in Morro Bay, Calif.

I was born when my parents were in their 40's, so they had been at this 'life' thing for quite a while before I came along. For this reason I didn't have them as long as most people (hopefully) have theirs. My dad was 46 when I was born, and I was 45 when my dad died. I miss my parents a great deal.

My dad grew up in Los Angeles when things were very different there. Street cars were a common form of transportation, as the Great Depression greatly impacted the financial ability of the majority of family incomes, sort of like today.

In the 20's and 30's LA wasn't a gray skied gangland. When my dad was a kid, both Long Beach and Dana Point had great waves, and in the years since then breakwaters have been built. It is hard to imagine for anyone who knows Long Beach.

My dad used to ride a 1927 Harley Davidson across the Cajon Pass at night and go to Big Bear for the weekend. The motorcycle didn't have a headlight, and that didn't stop them from taking some pretty crazy nighttime journeys. He and his contemporaries weren't 'crazy' as grown men; in fact very reserved and humble, but they had to have been a little touched to do some of the things they did, like most of us.

My dad's brother Albert knew a man named Duffy who had a mine way deep in the desert of Nevada. We would take family vacations and, in my dad's homemade dune buggy, we would actually go into the mountains and visit the mine. The trip I most vividly recall involved finding everything but the old guy who lived there. I think there was a small concern that the man had possibly died, his personal things were everywhere. We never found out.

Last time I saw my dad alive, his 90th birthday.

Charles and Tim King with Tim's bike, 1995.

In my lifetime my dad restored antique cars and motorcycles and his shop was awesome. When I say he could make anything, it is because he had most every item needed to shape and form metal and wood. Lathe, drill press, an endless set of tools... the guy was amazing. Prior to my birth, he built one of the very first motor homes in existence and we traveled all of my young life in that 'camp car' on vacations.

We were pulled over near the Golden Gate Bridge once and the officer was expecting to see a hippie at the wheel. He took one look at my dad and was immediately headed back to his CHP cruiser.

Something tells me that I never told my dad 'Happy Father's Day' enough times.

Those who have their parents today can perhaps hijack a lesson from that. Man, when they're gone they're gone. You can't ask them a question, you can't share good news with them, you can't tell them about your most personal accomplishments, because they are gone, they are out of here. No more vacations to see my parents, no more rendezvous with our friends who would always come and stay at a beachfront campground when we visited my folks. All of my friends knew my parents, they were a kick and a hoot and interesting beyond description.

Rich of heart, humble, kind, sincere, this was my dad. His old school approach will always make sense to me and if I can end up being a fraction of what that man was, then I will not have wasted my life.

I know they really are here in a way too, it does make me sad if I let it, but most of the time all is well and we just keep walking forward, doing what we know they would want us to do.

I miss my dad today, be sure to tell yours how much he matters to you, and if you happen to be in my shoes, be sure you still tell them.


Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 88 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Colli June 19, 2011 5:26 pm (Pacific time)

Very touching tribute Tim and I am certain well deserved. Your Dad sounds like the kind of Dad every kid should have. If only the world were full of Charles Kings . . . what a wonderful place it would be!

Here is a tune I dedicate to all of the fathers we all miss so very much: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQnhDBiTjvg
Bless all of "The Old Men"!

Thanks Coli! I didn't mention that my dad was also an outstanding film photographer and we have hours of 8mm records of their lives.  One thing that always stands out to me is the wreckage of the destroyer (there were actually seven) at Point Honda in California where 7 Navy destroyers crashed on the rocks in the middle of the night in 1922.  And another thing I didn't mention is that my dad considered himself a 'Conservative' and with his approach to life, based upon growing up in the Depression, like our writer Ken Ramey, he was a conservative person in regard to his lifestyle, it didn't mean what people often think of today when hearing the term.  My favorite part of that memory is his 1941 Graham Hollywood (super cool classic American car) had a license plate frame that read: "Member of the Establishment" and I always chuckled over that.  He was a great man, thanks so much for adding this.  

Cindy Mulligan June 19, 2011 1:39 pm (Pacific time)

Beautiful tribute, Tim. Sounds like your Dad and mine were very similiar men. Probably close to the same age - growing up in the LA area in the 20's.
You said a mouthful when you said - when they're gone, they're gone. My Dad died 18 years ago... and I still miss him everyday.

Tim King: Thanks Cindy, we are in a special club and yes, it is all very final.  Sorry about your loss, thanks for writing.  

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.