I have already written about the wonderful legacy that Cathy’s dad, George Young left for his family and friends and some of the wonderful character traits that marked his personal life. He was a master builder who owned the oldest contracting business in Fort Lauderdale. He purposefully kept the business small so that he could assure every customer that the work done on their particular project would have his personal attention and would be of the highest quality. His reputation as a quality builder was widely known in Broward County and south Florida.
Dad Young was a quiet and thoughtful man who did not easily share his personal thoughts with any but his closest family members, and not all of them. According to his son, Dr. George W. Young, Dad had a stuttering problem as a child and was able to overcome that problem with time and personal discipline. I don’t believe his parents retained any professional help for Dad, and I’m confident that this struggle affected him greatly. Cathy has related on many occasions the empathy her dad had for anyone with a speech impediment and in particular any young person.
Another characteristic of Dad Young was he didn’t like to travel outside of Broward County. On one occasion when Cathy and I were visiting, her brother George obtained tickets to a Miami Dolphins football game, and Dad agreed to go with us. I was very excited not only to see a Dolphins game, but a chance to spend time with both men whom I admired greatly. Early in my marriage into the Young family, I bonded with Cathy’s brother, and he helped me understand many of the family dynamics as he took me all around Fort Lauderdale, pointing out landmarks and especially homes and businesses that Young Construction Company had built. The football game in Miami was exciting, although I don’t remember the opposing team nor the outcome. As we were driving home following the game, I asked Dad how long it had been since he had made the 40 mile trip to Miami. He responded, “About 40 years.” I said, “I know the roads are much better now and it is easier to get there. When do you think you’ll go back?” In his usual quiet manner and with a little chuckle he said, “In another 40 years.”
He related to me the following story concerning his travels (or lack thereof), and this is one my favorites. It probably occurred 15 to 20 years prior to my entry into the family which was in 1965. He had a trip scheduled to go to Atlanta for either business purposes or for a training seminar. Early in his life Dad was not one to make leisure trips, and I don’t recall him ever travelling with anyone except Mom. The interstate system in Florida in those days was not as well-developed, and an automobile trip to Atlanta might take as long as 12 hours depending on the numbers of stops one made. According to Dad when they were about 50 miles outside Atlanta, the driver looked over at Dad and said, “You don’t talk much, do you George?” They realized at the same time, that not one word had been exchanged between them since they left Fort Lauderdale. They each had a good laugh knowing they had not spoken for 8 or 9 hours! Dad was very content within himself to be quiet, since most of his life he was with people who had a need to talk. It was such an obvious quality known by everyone who knew him, that when Dad did speak, everyone got quiet to hear what he was saying because it would always be relevant.
He never raised his voice toward me in correction or rebuke, but if that had occurred, it would have terrified me. The only time he verbally showed some displeasure toward me was in his misunderstanding of something I had said. Cathy and I had just arrived on a visit from Valdosta, Georgia where I was stationed in the Air Force. Mom had just been elected Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, and we were very excited to hear all about the election and her new role. As Dad was helping me unpack our car and we were alone in the garage, I looked at him and asked, “How does it feel to be married to the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale?” He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye and said, “What do you mean by that?” He must have thought in some way I was demeaning him and he felt judged. I quickly said, “Oh, I didn’t mean anything except a compliment to her and to you. Cathy and I are very proud of her accomplishments!” He picked the bag back up and made no other remark. I assumed my explanation cleared the air and nothing else needed to be said. Thank goodness it didn’t take 8 or 9 hours for us to re-engage in conversation.