In May of each year we set aside a Sunday to remember mothers, and in June a Sunday for fathers. I am fortunate in having collected good memories of my parents from my earliest recall to their deaths in their 70s and 80s.
My father, Anthony Terselic, better known as “Tony,” was born in 1909 on a farm in what is now the Republic of Slovenia. At the time, Slovenia was a part of former Yugoslavia. He passed on his pride in our shared heritage from my early age. His father, Frank (Franc) travelled to America numerous times and probably wasn’t present for Tony’s birth. Tony also had little contact with his father during his early years.
In about 1920, Tony, his mother, Marija, and youngest sister, Terezija, came to Racine, Wis., where grandfather Frank was residing. Four older brothers and sisters had arrived earlier. Contact with his father in America was brief and less than warm. Frank left the family shortly after 1920 and nothing more is known about where he went. Such departures were not uncommon among immigrant spouses at the time.
At about age 13, Tony was sent to Cleveland, Ohio, to work for his sister and brother-in-law in their grocery and meat market. His wages went back to assist the support of his mother. In the late 1920s, Tony returned to Racine, married and opened his own food market. In the early 1930s, he and my mother moved to Cleveland where I was born in 1937. We initially lived above the store.
Given his limited relationship with his own father, I believe Dad committed to maintaining a warm relationship with me, an only child. I was well provided for when it came to toys. Dad had never had a bicycle or electric train, but I had both at early ages. Growing up, I spent much “quality” time with both my parents at the store, working there part time from my grade school years into the first years of my own marriage.
Dad had interests in sports and cars that he shared with me. From an early point, I spent time with him on baseball fields and at bowling alleys. He hoped that I would become a professional baseball player, but my skills never reached that level. He liked to drive late model cars, and, as a shrewd bargainer, was able to upgrade each year with little out-of-pocket money addition. During high school and college he generously made his cars available for my use. When I needed money to buy my first cars, Dad extended interest-free loans.
Over the years, Dad and I remained close. My teenage “revolt” was of minor consequence with little impact on my relationship with my parents. Because at least one of my parents had to remain present at the store, each made brief (and separate) visits back to Wisconsin. I accompanied both; with Dad by car and with Mom by train.
After I married and began undertaking home improvement projects, Dad provided advice and on-site help. When I started a family hubcap business he also provided valuable assistance. Dad had a life-long history of health issues and in the mid-1980s was confined to a wheel chair. That didn’t stop him from coming to the Saturday hubcap sales and serving as cashier. He died in 1987 at age 78 — the age I currently am.
Dad also developed excellent relationships with his four grandchildren. One of his great-grandchildren, Anthony John Terselic, was named after my Dad as well as his other grandfather, John Esposito, with whom I enjoyed a warm 50 year relationship.