Friday, April 8, 2011

My little girl

Not long after we moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin, Brian and I joined the YMCA Indian Guides program. In addition to the twice a month meetings at the homes of the boys in the tribe, the young Guides also got to go camping in the fall and in the winter at Phantom Lake, the second oldest YMCA camp in the country (dating back to 1896).

During the fall, we would all go for hikes in the woods, and congregate around roaring bonfires in the evenings. During the winter, “snow snake” races would be held on the frozen lake, and we would watch old movies after dinners of hot dogs and beans on Saturday night.

After a few years, it became difficult for the dads in the organization to find time for leadership roles, so I eventually got elected Federation chief, and was allowed to wear a fancy feathered headdress at the fall ceremony where I, as chief Horsefeathers, got a chance to use my Toastmaster training and lead the ceremony.

In the fall of 1985, Kelly became old enough to join the Indian Princess program, and came along for the fall campout with me and Brian.

On Saturday evening, as we all sat around a campfire, my little brown-eyed girl got up from her seat on the other side of the fire, walked over to my side, put her arms around me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “daddy, I love you”.

Gulp.

I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my lifetime, and I’d had some wonderful travel experiences, but I’ve always felt that that moment in time would always be one of the most memorable in my life.

Little girls always seem to have a special place in their dad’s hearts, which is why a lot of grade schools have “daddy-daughter” dances when their young charges get to be 7 or 8 years old.

A few dads are able to demonstrate their affection for their daughters in more elaborate ways. Gwyneth Paltrow’s dad took her to Paris when she was about 11 years old because he wanted her to see Paris for the first time with a man who would always love her.

There are several towns in America that have been named after somebody’s daughter (one of them being the Alpine village-themed Helen, Georgia) , but the most memorable story about a town named after a daughter involves Carol Stream, Illinois, which is located 17 miles northeast of our old house in Aurora.

In the mid-1950’s, a man named Jay Stream was president of the Durable Construction Company. He had planned to build a 400 home community in Naperville, but the red tape involved in the process proved to be too frustrating for him. A sympathetic(?) clerk told him to “build his own town”, so he decided to do exactly that.

In 1957, he started to buy farmland in the unincorporated farmland outside of Wheaton, Illinois, and the first few homes were erected that spring.

On August 26, 1957, his teenage daughter Carol was returning from Racine, Wisconsin with some friends in a 1949 Studebaker much like the ones pictured below. While attempting to cross U.S. Highway 45 in Kenosha, their car was struck in the right rear corner, killing the 15 year old passenger that was sitting there.



Carol was ejected through the windshield, and into a utility pole. She was so badly injured that the doctors at the Kenosha hospital thought that the comatose girl would never awaken or, if she did, she would be severely handicapped.

In spite of her dire condition, the doctors felt that good news might help her to heal, so Jay Stream decided to name the new village in her honor. After four months in a coma, Carol regained consciousness. When she first learned that the village had been named for her, she thought at first that it was “odd and silly” but she quickly warmed to the idea.

Carol Stream never lived in the town that bears her name. Shortly after she recovered from the accident, she moved to Arizona with her mother as her parent’s marriage unraveled. However, she frequently participates in municipal celebrations and parades.

Carol Stream, the person, is living proof that good news can be tremendously therapeutic, and that a man’s love for his daughter is a powerful tool. Although I could say a lot more about THAT topic, I’ll let Tim McGraw have the final word:

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