Short stories of my larger than life Father
Hello, how does this day find you? I hope well. I wanted to write a short intro to lay the groundwork, so to speak, of what you will be reading in this blog post series.
My Dad, born Baby Boy Holder in Corning, California, on April 19th, 1942, was turned over to an orphanage by his teen mother. He wasn’t given a proper first name at that time. That honor would go to Nancy Richards, a hard-nosed, five-foot-nothing British immigrant who became Dad’s adopted mother.
Now Melvin Arthur Richards, the boy was a rebel from the get. Here was a soul that was just different from those around it. Here was, to use modern-day parlance, a natural-born influencer.
Dad spent his time as a child much the same as he did as an adult: causing trouble. He was one hell of an athlete, anchoring the Corning High School football team from the linebacker position. I used to proudly sport his letter jacket in high school and college.
Remember the old Uncle Sam “I Want You” posters? Yeah, my Dad was the Marine Corp poster boy for those. My sister still has one of the originals. That’s right, Mel was boy band pretty back in the day.
I always described my Dad to folks who hadn’t met him in a couple of different ways. One was as an adult version of Popeye the Sailor. Take Popeye, blend him with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, and then sift in every single cuss word ever created by man, and you would get Mel Richards. I also often portrayed him as a human tornado. When you were around him, you’d get whipped around, some damage was bound to happen, but you would have the time of your life in some way, shape, or form.
These posts will depict some of the quintessential Captain Mel moments, primarily from my youth. Some of them will be told as memories, and others as short stories. Undoubtedly, all of them will take some literary license. That being said, Mel genuinely was larger than life. All of the significant events in the tales I will tell did happen. We were, in fact, escorted for two days up the West Coast by a whale. I did spend the day on the aircraft carrier Nimitz and sat in the captain’s chair. My family did go six miles round trip over open ocean water in a tiny rubber dingy with a nine-horsepower outboard to get soft-serve ice cream on a whim. These things, and so many more, really happened. I’ve always stated that I’ve lived a life of considerable myth, and much of that was due to Captain Mel.
Now that the blueprint has been set, in the next blog post, we will dive into the legend that is Captain Mel. I hope you all enjoy reading about these adventures as much as I did living through them!