Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. The One! The Only! The Ever-memorable Tommy Wynne—the man we lovingly referred to as…………….drumroll please………”El-Cheapo”!
Actually, my dad was quite proud of this nickname!
He was great—and he is surely missed not only by my family, but by all those who knew and loved him. He was a good kind of special.
He passed away when he was 64 because his heart simply stopped beating.
A New Yawk Cop with a heart of gold and a great sense of humor who never had to pull out his gun!
..and you wonder where I get my “spectacular” looks from!!! Seriously–weren’t my parents adorable? My dad was so handsome AND proud of his NYPD uniform!
But instead of waxing all sorts of sentimental and being all weepy, I’m just going to honor him with a listing of cool and fun stuff I remember about my dad. So here goes….
He really was “el cheapo” and we used to kid him about it all the time. He honestly didn’t give two shits what anyone thought of his cheapness either. After my dad retired from the NYPD, he and my mom moved to the West Coast of Florida; the Tampa area.
Anyway, on one of my visits, we all decided to make a day trip at Disney World. Granted, my dad would only go to Disney when they were having the “Florida Resident” fee, but what he pulled that day was classic “El Cheapo”. Lunch. We all sat down at a table waiting to be served and we couldn’t find my dad. He ended up at a hot dog stand because he refused to spend “idiotic” amounts of money for lunch! He just wasn’t a Disney fan either. All he could say whenever he reached the entrance was this:
“Oh for crissakes–to think a MOUSE started all this garbage”…and he would shake his head. We just eye rolled and laughed at his remarks! It was funny–and he had a point!
Nothing bothered my dad–not even the whinging and whining of his grandchildren. I look like Hell. Pregnant with Oona, Roman not happy–but my dad–he seems to be enjoying this scene!
Oh..did I mention? My dad was NEVER a slave to fashion. My mother would be mortified at his “going out in public” with a sleeveless t. shirt. He would laugh and tell her that the money saved was for her wardrobe! Here he is, once again, with a smile on his face because he saved money at Disney by eating a cheap lunch!
When I worked in the World Trade Center, he met me for lunch one day. My Aunt Terry also worked in the WTC and joined us. Now—this was back in the 1970’s, and when he saw the menu he refused to pay $6.00 for a sandwich. He sat there while my aunt and I ate—he refused to order—and we offered to pay but he wouldn’t have it. It was the “principal”.
As kids we were often times invited to the local Country Club as guests of our friends. One of the members had approached my dad and suggested our family become members—there would be no problem being accepted. My dad’s answer was “Why should I pay when my kids can go as guests!”.
My dad’s motto was “Southward Ho No–I’m not paying!”
True dat—and I laugh as I write this.
His favorite snack in the entire world was “Mallomars”—this confection being only sold during certain months of the year. Made of a graham cracker bottom layer and a fluffy rounded dome of marshmallow, topped with a chocolate shell, these tasty bits were his nirvana. We literally had to ask his permission if we wanted one. He kept them in the freezer and took to counting how many were in the box.
If he ever came home to an empty box of these, we would be answering to a much higher power than my dad! He LIVED for these things!
Luckily, none of us kids were crazy about Mallomars—if we were, I have no idea of what would have transpired.
He also had words and sayings that we referred to as “Tommyisms”
If we screwed up he would call us (and be patient because I’m spelling this phonetically—I don’t know Gaelic) “Omadons“. This is basically a Gaelic word for “moronic dopey person who made a huge mistake”.
If something didn’t make sense—like when he got a bad hand playing cards, he would announce it’s “Asshole to Breakfast time.” Years later I still cannot process the true meaning.
I’m guessing this is “asshole to breakfast time”! What a quote!
“Speak to me again, sweet lips, so I know where to find youuuuu“ was another of his favored sayings. This announcement always followed his passing of gas. Usually in the family room while we were all gathered around watching TV. My mother would always get really disgusted and leave the room, while we kids howled laughing! What kid doesn’t enjoy a dad who farts with glee?????
I know. I know. I know full well that my dad’s sense of humor could be crude. But it was funny as hell. Especially for kids–and he aimed to make us laugh! At EVERYTHING!
He always said “zed” instead of the letter “z”. I think that was the influence of my Irish grandparents. The nuns had quite the job explaining to me that “zed” just wasn’t used in the USA!
“Naught” for “zero” or “nothing”.
We all had nicknames. I swear to you, if anyone heard him call us, you would think we were a pack of wild wolves—Catherine, Theresa, Tommy, Germaine, and Peter were replaced with “Katie”, “Sissy”, “Skithers”, “Mainzie” and “Munzie”. That’s right. My dad never called me by my given name. It was always “Katie”—I’m guessing he liked me best because I had the most normal nickname!
The beginning of the pack of dogs nicknames. My and Sissy. My mom was pregnant with my brother Tommy, aka “Skithers” in this pic! ( I am NOT even going to go about explaining how THAT nickname was acquired!).
All kidding aside, he was the most incredibly doting dad!
Look at how my dad is so happy to see me! Probably because I couldn’t talk back!
His grandkids were everything to him!
My dad with Jake, Oona and Roman right before his heart stopped beating!
He’s the reason Oona took Irish Dance lessons–I only wish he had lived to see her dance and compete. He would have been so proud! But–he would have gone ballistic at the price I paid for her dresses. El Cheapo would resurface!
His voice was loud. He spoke with the “tickest” of Brooklyn accents.
On his “off” tours from work, he would come down to the schoolyard at St. Patrick’s and organize ball games for the boys. In fact, when we had a bomb scare at school (yes, lunatics were around in the mid-1960’s as well as now—only now there are more), my dad was the first one on the scene!
My brothers were excellent baseball players (both received baseball scholarships to college). Because my dad was such a baseball helicopter dad, there were times when his enthusiasm and criticism of the coaches became too much. As such my brother Pete’s coach had to place a tarp over the fence at home place so that my dad couldn’t see what was going on.
My mother came from an incredibly large family. Some of her brothers and brothers-in-law liked to partake of certain beverages. There were quite a few late weekend phone calls in which my dad would have to drive to various police stations throughout Long Island to ensure that my uncles got home safe. He never minded those calls.
I don’t think my dad knew what he was in for when he married into such a large family!
Who also knew this well-dressed groom would end up with a penchant for sleeveless t-shirts and (ugh) polyester baseball caps!!!
In fact, he always reminded us that if we were at a party and felt uncomfortable to CALL him at home. No matter what time and he would come and pick us up without any questions. He was true to his word.
After his first heart attack, he was told to quit smoking (he had a two-pack-a-day habit). He did, and replaced cigarettes with toothpicks. He always had a toothpick in his mouth!
He played poker every Friday night that he wasn’t working. We always knew when he won because the next day my mother would take a trip to the beauty parlor. When he lost, we would find him sleeping on the sofa in the family room the following morning.
This portrait pretty much sums it up–his love for poker and toothpicks! Oh..and note another clue to his el-cheapo-ness. Sunglass clip-on lenses in the wrong size. I’m sure he paid less than a buck for those beauties! I miss those nuances of his!
Being the only son in his family, he was treated like royalty. So much so, that when we went to visit my grandparents, we kids were NOT allowed to be served tea and biscuits or pound cake until my father was served first.
My grandmother, Margaret. Nobody got served before my dad!
Mmmmm. Mmmmmm! Leave some for us Da!!!
On any given Sunday during those cold winter months, when my dad was also in between police tours, you could find him seated in the living room. Not watching football, but waiting for us to come to him and recite whatever memorization homework we were given.
God forbid we missed a word—he would make us march back into our rooms to keep studying…and memorizing.
Actually, one Christmas we surprised him with a Baltimore Catechism—we were all laughing so hard at the sight of my dad being excited over this dogmatic gift that we were almost choking. My dad called us over and started asking us questions from that old-school book. I’ll be a sonovabitch if we all weren’t able to answer every question just as perfectly as we did many years ago! He beamed!
You have NO idea how many times we were quizzed on everything from why God made us to the Apostle’s Creed. At that time the only creed I wanted was Creedence Clearwater!
My mother, who despised Western movies, refused to accompany him to his favorite cinematic genre. Instead, I was the chosen one who got to sit next to him watching the iconic films like “Sons of Katie Elder” and “A Man Called Horse”.
Luckily for me, having a dad who was a cop meant that I could accompany him to the movies on a school night if he had weekend duty!
I had no words to even come close to describing THIS movie–but even as a young teenager, I still managed to see movies with my dad!
I was the winner in this because he would always get me the oversized box of malted milk balls.
..and the BEST part was coming home with an almost empty box and finishing it in front of my younger brothers and sisters. Yeah–I was THAT sister!
When I attended a school reunion about twenty years ago, many of the guys I went to school approached me and asked how my dad was. What about me????? He had passed away but it was so touching that these guys all remembered my dad so fondly.
He may have been a disciplinarian, but he was also our great defender. I remember once I was slapped clear across the face by Sr. Mary Josephita—the mere mention of her name gives me Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This nun, who was most likely the most satanic sister in the history of St. Patrick’s grammar school, thought I gave her cheeky answer to a question. I was both humiliated and in extreme pain, but I would not give her the satisfaction of shedding one tear.
Anyway, when I arrived home, my dad noticed the welts in the shape of fingers. I told him what happened.
He took me in the car and we drove to the convent. Now—remember, my dad was very good friends with the nuns—he organized games and would buy beer for the nuns’ beer and pretzel parties. He spoke to the principal, Sr. Mary Isabel, and told her that if anything like this ever happened again, all of his kids (four at the time) would be taken out of the school and placed into PUBLIC SCHOOL! Mention something like that to a nun and boy—things turn around quickly!!
I was so proud and happy of my dad that day! I knew from then on, he would always have my back!
I’m sure that when this picture was taken during my parent’s dating time, my dad NEVER imagined he would threaten a nun with sending his children to public school!
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you dad. Some days I cry when things suck and I can’t have you here to talk me through it. Some days I laugh just thinking about the fun we had! I miss you and love you!
I just miss hanging out with him. And I KNOW he and Bonaparte would have spent hours upon hours discussing WWII–one of his favorite subjects!
Tom’s heart may have stopped beating, but we all hold his memories close to our own hearts.
My parents were reunited three years ago. I’m sure they are having a grand time dancing and laughing together and swinging on stars…..
..speaking of swinging on stars….I’m posting one of my dad’s favorite songs. He sang it to us when we were younger–“Swinging on a Star!” Bing Crosby sings!