My name is Charles Randall “Randy” Vanover. I am the fourth son and the seventh child of the late Estelle and Everett Bruce Vanover Sr. If you will let me into your hearts and minds for a few minutes, I’d like to jump up on The Mountain Eagle soap box and tell you all one more story about my dad.
My dad wasn’t around a lot when I was growing up. Eight kids and a wife will do that to you. He was always working. I was born on Travis AFB, Calif., in 1961. Dad was stationed there for 14 years. He would work his shift running the print shop on base, sometimes working a graveyard shift print checks for Bank of America, then work weekends for his buddy Tony Syar, who owned a big construction outfit and was starting a retirement community in the next town over. The senior community would be called Leisure Town. The golf course by the name of Green Tree was where my dad laid all the sod for 18 holes and the putting green. It sported a giant golf ball you can see from the freeway with different sized holes in it. (If you hit your ball in one, you won a trip to Reno, Nev.)
My dad started chewing tobacco at 15 years old and didn’t quit until 90 years young. He always chewed Beechnut with a giant chaw in his jaw as big as your first. Any down time he had at home, I was always at his side. If we weren’t sitting on the couch watching baseball, basketball or Westerns, we were rolling in one of his classic cars. And believe me, there were a lot of different cars. (It was my job to wash his cars for my weekly allowance.)
From the ’49 Cadillac ragtop he used to drive the family across the country in, ever summer we’d load up and drive from California to Jenkins to visit his parents, to the infinite number of ’55, ’56 and ’57 Chevys and Fords, to the Mercedes he bought in Germany for $50 which had big sweeping fenders and running boards looking like a Rolls Royce, my favorite was the ’49 Oldsmobile that had Rocket Olds on the valve cover.
In the ‘70s, when he was stationed at the Pentagon, he always had Fridays off. We’d load up the ‘49 Kitty and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Just me and my old man driving from one side of Virginia to the other. I bet we didn’t say five sentences — just enjoying the scenery and a boy enjoying spending time with his dad, him with his ever-present coffee can to hold his tobacco juice, a little Bromo Seltzer, and a canteen jug used to hold drinking water. I think I was 10 years old. I still have the tin cup we’d use to drink from.
I once told Dad if I could fill his shoes halfway, I’d be a hell of a man. That poor country boy from Letcher County, Kentucky went out and made his way in the world and lived a heck of a life. I’m very proud of my Appalachian bloodlines, and so blessed and grateful he’s my Dad.
If anyone feels the need, I can be reached at Randy Vanover, P.O. Bo 102, Bridger, MT 59014.