Of Mice and A Man

Reynold John DeAngelis
September 30, 1932 – June 7?, 1999

I like to post stories about my dad. He passed away 9 years ago today (probably — we’re not entirely sure of the time) so I’ve been wracking my head for a good story….

My dad during his Army service, probably around 1954
My dad during his Army service, probably around 1954

For a man of his size and profession (blue collar, working man), Dad definitely had a soft spot for animals. We had numerous critters around our property through the years, including a couple dogs (he named the really dumb, lazy one after the current governor of PA! haha), many cats, my brother’s cranky horse, and a spurt of chickens. (“Spurt” refers to the fact that we kept chickens for a few years till he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble of fending off the possums.)

My favorite “dad & critter” story took place when I was in high school….

As most of you know, I grew up in the mountains of Western PA, a rather secluded place. Wanting to get out of the city, my parents bought 12 acres of wooded land on top of “Rich Hill” (definitely *not* named for its economic status, unless the surveyor had a sick sense of humor). Dad and my 2 brothers built our house up there in the midst of the forest. It’s a pretty part of the world, and I can feel my heart longing for the wooded hills whenever we’re in similar parts of Appalachia.

our driveway looks like this … which explains why people never seemed to be able to find our house! lol

anyway
We lived a solid 10 minutes from town (Connellsville, the not-so-bustling former coal town of 7,000 residents). Dad would usually make a Saturday run into town to pick up a week’s worth of mail from the Post Office and restock the family pantry. (He took early retirement due to disability — another story for another time.)  The trip down Hwy 711 into town is a thrill– lots of downhill and curves. 

Although dad was a manual transmission, truck kind of guy, he tended to buy automatic cars for my mom’s sake (who had to drive 20 or 30 miles to work every day).  By the time of my story, we owned a little blue Ford Escort that zipped up the mountain just fine and got decent gas mileage. Mom was driving the more reliable Buick to work every day. The Escort lost its spot in the garage and got parked outside near the wood pile. (And boy, did we have a wood pile! lol)

My dad noticed one spring that a mouse had decided to build a nest in the wheel well of the Escort (which didn’t get driven much except on weekends).  He cleared out the nest and tried to encourage the mouse to find itself a different home in the great outdoors.  But when he hopped in the car one Saturday for his weekly trip to town, he noticed the mouse scurrying around near the car.

Dad parked at the Post Office and got out to lumber inside for the mail. (I say “lumber” only because my dad — though not tall — was a sizable man with enormous shoulders and huge hands — hard-earned tools won through several years of woodcutting and hauling after he ‘retired’).   Anyway, he realized when he got out of the car that the mouse had hitched a ride!  It hopped out and scurried away. Dad chuckled, wondering whether the mouse had gotten tired of its country life and plotted an escape to the city. 

A few minutes later Dad returned with the mail …. only to find the mouse waiting patiently near the car for him to return!!  According to dad — I am not making this up — the mouse hopped onto the underside of the car for his trip back up the mountain!

I guess the city life wasn’t for him either? haha

I’m sorry that very few of you ever met my dad.  He had a hard life and a lot of problems to work through — but the struggle itself ground a good deal of patience into his soul by the time the Lord called him home.
He passed away a year after Coart & I were married, just a few weeks before we were scheduled to visit him in PA (our first visit after our marriage).

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