Wednesday, October 31, 2012
To a casual observer, it probably seemed like a fine childhood for my sister and me - a house, my father with a steady job - but trouble developed. My mother was wonderful. But my father was a drinker. He was not an alcoholic in the sense that he couldn't function; he always worked. But he was a mean person, especially when he got drunk.
One of the first things I remember, it was around Christmastime. I got a log-cabin set. I wanted to put it together, and he was helping me. Apparently I disrupted his train of thought or got him mad because I wanted to do it and he wanted to do it for me. He picked me up by the pants and the shirt and started swinging me around. I thought he was going to throw me in the fireplace.
My mother was screaming, and he finally put me down. When something like that happens, you never trust a person again - and that's the way it was for me and my father. My mother finally left him when I was eight years old or so. I can't be sure, but I think he might have hit her. She moved into a one-room apartment with me and Rosemarie.
My mother loved to dance. In those days, they had dance nights at some place, I think it was called El Capitan. But my father, who was still working in a bank, evidently thought she was playing around. I guess he'd been drinking, and he got a gun. He went over to the club when she was coming out and he shot her. She was hit three or four times. She ended up in the hospital, fighting for her life.
Jerry Coleman, from An American Journey, 2008.
We grew up with "Aunt Pearl," Jerry Coleman Senior's wife. She was my Granny's sister and my dad's aunt. We never were told of the shooting. Family secrets revealed in a book by my dad's cousin.
Bonus: The Exemplary Life of Jerry Coleman