Monday, June 18, 2018


(Reworked from a 6/2016 post.)

My dad’s given name was Angel Kiewitsky.  He always went by the name Archie Keyes.  When I was starting college he decided to have it changed legally.  Off went our family to the courthouse.  As I recall, almost the entire conversation between the judge & my father went like this: Judge: “Your name is Angel Kiewitsky?”  AK: “Yes, your Honor.”  Judge: “And you want it changed to Archie Keyes?”  AK: “Yes, sir.”  Judge: “I don’t blame you.  Granted!!"

You may not consider him handsome.  A childhood bout of polio had slightly distorted the right side of his face.  Our kids thought he looked a little like Popeye, but his heart was beautiful & to me he looked like Sir Galahad.

He was the nicest person you could ever meet.  He would do anything for anybody.  He lived in L.A., but if someone asked him for a ride home (to New Mexico or Kansas) I have no doubt he would’ve said yes.  If his doctor told him he’d have to amputate his head, Daddy would probably have asked, “When would that be convenient for you?”  

He loved to tell jokes & stories.  When he wanted to tell you about a movie he’d seen, you learned to get comfortable.  If it was an MGM film, he’d start with, “First the lion came out & roared.” 

At the time of their marriage my mother's family didn't approve because they felt she was robbing the cradle.  She was 22 & he was 20 the day before the wedding.  One of my aunts showed up in black, as if she were in mourning.  Several others didn't come at all.  Nice guy Archie soon won them all over & became one of the (if not the) family favorites.

As a father, he was extremely gentle.  My mother would spank me when I misbehaved & I didn’t really care.  He would just have to look at me & say, “I’m very disappointed in you” & I would break into tears.  I only recall him yelling at me one time, but to be fair he feared for his life.  He was teaching me to drive & I apparently came a little closer than he thought I should to a parked car.  He slid down in the passenger’s seat, threw out his arms as if he were crucified & yelled, “What in the hell do you think you are doing?”  Bud took over my lessons from that point on.

I'll admit he was not too much of a handyman.  He once was attempting to paint a wall.  He stepped back to admire check his work & found his foot in the paint roller tray--twice!! 

He never had a fancy job, but he always supported his family.  For most of his life he drove a delivery truck for a wholesale meat company.  He delivered to many Hollywood restaurants & the chefs loved him.  Quite often they served him gourmet meals in the kitchen--free!!  At home, one of his favorite things to eat was cake, which he considered a device for holding frosting.

Since we didn't have a lot of money & Daddy didn't mind driving we usually drove to national parks on vacation.  I remember my brother trying to spit a mile--from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the bottom.  My dad was a gamblin' man so we often took weekend drives to Las Vegas.  (He never bet grocery or rent money & couldn't understand people who did.  He also had a problem with people who complained about losing.  He felt that you willingly paid money to see a movie or a play or when you rent something & that gambling was essentially no different.)  It was about a 5 to 6 hour drive & our car had no air-conditioning so we'd leave around midnight to escape the heat of the day.  When my dad was shooting craps, you could almost use him as a clock; or more specifically, as a sundial.  At 9:00 pm, he would be standing erect at the table.  As the evening wore on he would start to bend at the waist.  Lower & lower he would go as the hours passed.  Around midnight his top was at about a 30° angle to his legs.  By 4:00 am, the angle was about 60°.  That’s when we would get him & take him to our room. 

My parents were married over 50 years.  They were married on August 23rd.  There were times when he really couldn’t afford it, but on the 23rd of every month, my dad gave my mom a dozen yellow roses, which signify joy & happiness.  He said their entire married life was like a honeymoon.  When she died, he had a blanket of yellow roses placed over her coffin.  Later, when he passed away, we had his coffin covered with yellow roses, too.  It seemed appropriate.  I hope all of you are as happy together as they were.

I remember him singing this song to her:

After their wives passed away, my father & father-in-law spent a lot of time together.  They would go & play cards in Gardena, with my dad driving, of course.  One time they went to see their grandson, Matt, who was going to college in San Francisco.  They stayed in his apartment.  Matt said he really enjoyed their visit but for some reason he refused to explain he referred to them as the “Odd Couple.”

Daddy was raised to believe that a man should always take care of his family's needs.  He continued to pay life insurance premiums after my mom died, but he made me the beneficiary. When I discovered this I told him that I appreciated it but I didn't need his money & that it would make me happier if he could enjoy it himself--he should just piss it away!!  It took a lot of convincing to get him to do it.

I used to host a yoga retreat at the beach every summer.  One year I was going to cancel because my dad was in the hospital, about an hour & a half away from the beach.  He had been diagnosed with brain cancer.  Although he walked into the hospital under his own power less than a week before, he was now unable to speak.  The doctors told us that he would likely not recover, but he could stay like that for a long time.  I wanted to be able to get to the hospital quickly if it became necessary.  Bud said I needed the mental relaxation yoga would bring & convinced me to go.  After the exercises, our instructor would have us clear our minds & totally relax.  I swear I had an out of body experience.  I found myself in his hospital room.  He sat up & very sternly said, “What are you doing here?  You need to be at yoga--you worry too much.  I’ll be fine!”  I learned later that that was about the time he died.  Since Daddy almost never wore a suit (& the only time he ever wore a tuxedo was when we took him on a cruise to Alaska with the rest of our family) we buried him in a polo shirt so he would be comfortable--& so that God would recognize him.

still miss you, Daddy----fishducky