First time I met “The Man” (as I liked to think of him back then) was the day I was introduced to his son. I had driven my little Chartreuse VW (Love Bug) Beetle through the busy streets of Washington, D.C., on my way from Virginia where I resided with my Mother (we were best friends). Two weeks before I had finished working with a local dance band (floor shows), featuring two brothers both recording artists.
Quite by chance the young man I was dating, who was a clothing designer and enjoyed a studio with some of his artist friends, was key in introducing me to the artist who had painted portraits of another local recording group. Knowing I performed he said they were scouting local talent for recording purposes. He took my phone number and delivered it.
The guitarist drove out to hear us the last week of my performing with this band, at the 602 Club, located in Jessup, MD. He issued me an invitation to his and his partner’s studio as soon as I returned from a planned trip to Daytona Beach, FL. A friend of the family was racing his motorcycle in a big race and my Sister and I were to drive there together for a week of fun. It was the week The Doobie Brothers hit song “What A Fool Believes” was released. The radio stations played it over and over, drumming it into our party heads. I found it to be bittersweet as it resonated how I was feeling about my present dating situation. But that is another tale.
I arrived at 13th and Taylor and guided my car into a legal parking place. In the District of Columbia you have to move your vehicle every two to three hours if you are not a resident. I grabbed my bag containing my Florida oranges plus the small juice jar indented to scrub your fruit to extract the nectar (manual of course) and some musical items, pens and a notebook. I didn’t travel light … just in case I might need a kitchen sink. Looking both ways I crossed the street and climbed the stairs to knock on the storm door of 1303. The Man opened the door wearing a slightly disapproving look and asked me what I wanted. Perhaps he thought I was selling something. I promptly introduced myself and announced politely that I was there to do some recording. He smiled then … it lit up his face and he told me to enter in. I was met in the foyer by Orville and escorted downstairs where I met and later fell head over heels in love with my Joe.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. It also marked the thirteenth anniversary of the day Papa Hall left our world to transition into the next. It is a day of love and let me tell you that so many people loved this man. He was cantankerous, opinionated, a force to be reckoned with, a talented mason and carpenter, a leader in his church and community, and just the sort of guy you might run and hide from if you were the timid type. Fortunately for me we earned one another’s appreciation, trust and finally love. It took a while, and he did eventually accept me as his son’s choice … but only after Joe’s Sisters and Mama Hall ganged up on him. We used to have rousing debates and I always loved snapping his suspenders whenever I visited. He finally understood I was a little kid inside a woman’s body but had as sharp a wit to match his own. We were a pair and through the years we enjoyed a wonderful friendship.
Now Joe (they called my husband Jose because he was a III), he was a good cook, just as my own Father had been, and if he saw you eating in the kitchen he would say, “Sit down and eat so you don’t make the house poor”, which was one of those old sayings I still do not understand. Joe was a curmudgeonly but lovable guy. He had answers for just about anything you asked him and they were good common sense ones, too. He offered advice freely and he was the head of a household that had quite stolen my heart. He married the girl of his dreams and together they raised a fine family. Jean was as sweet and gentle as they come, and lovely … just lovely. Papa Hall as I now think of him, was someone who we respected and looked up to. Oh yes, we bumped heads but in an affectionate way and he always understood that I truly loved not only his precious namesake … but the entire family. Quite often I confide to my husband that I really married him for his parents. Ha!
Today is your birthday Papa Hall, and I want you to know how much we talk about you and have your photograph where we can gaze upon you and Mama Hall everyday. You taught all of us how to be upstanding citizens, not hide our talents under a bushel, and that family matters most of all. Who knew that day was going to be more monumental than both of us could have ever imagined.
I loving memory of my Father-in-law
Joseph S. Hall, Jr.
1918 – 1999