I have already written about the wonderful legacy Cathy’s dad, George Young left for his family and friends and some of the wonderful character traits which marked his personal life. He was a master builder who owned the oldest building contractor business in Fort Lauderdale. He purposefully kept the business small so he could assure every customer 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 this struggle affected him greatly. Cathy has told me on many occasions the empathy her Dad had for anyone with a speech impediment.
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 excited not only to see a Dolphins game but have a chance to spend time with both men whom I admired greatly. Early in my marriage to Cathy I bonded with Cathy’s brother George, and he helped me understand many of the family dynamics. He drove 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 forty mile trip to Miami. He responded, “About forty 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 forty years.”
He told me the following story concerning his travels (or lack thereof), and this is one my favorites. It probably occurred ten to fifteen years prior to entrance into family which was in 1965. He had a trip scheduled with another man to go to Atlanta for either business purposes or for a training seminar. 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 then was not as well-developed, and an automobile trip to Atlanta might take as long as twelve hours depending on traffic and the numbers of stops one made. According to Dad when they were about fifty miles outside Atlanta, the driver looked over at Dad and said, “You don’t talk much, do you George?” This was when they realized not one word had been exchanged between the two of them since they left Fort Lauderdale eight or nine hours earlier. They each had a good laugh knowing how quiet they were
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, and when Dad did speak everyone stopped to listen, because it would always be relevant.
He never raised his voice toward me in correction or rebuke, but if it had happened I would have been shocked. 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 innocently 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 eight or nine hours for us to re-engage in conversation.