Sunday, June 15, 2008


Last night we had a BBQ with some friends and we talked about what we remembered about our fathers.
A quick history about my Dad, Keith K Mortensen. He was born in Rubert Idaho. Joined the Navy at 17 during WWII, came home and served a mission in Texas. Dad, in is mid 20's married my mom who was 18, Moved to Quincy Washington where his brother Don was starting to farm. He started out working at a Service station and later went to work for the city of Quincy as the Dog Catcher.
That's me sitting on the the "Dog Wagon" with the funny looking hat. The other two are my brothers Dave & Steve.
This is where I start to remember things that happened. He worked his way up through the ranks of the city ended up as the City Superintendent.
Since it was a small community he ran everything, the water, street, sewer, and other various departments. He never made much money but he was the most frugal person I know. "Make do or do without". "Use it up and wear it out" was his practice. We spent many times as a family gleaning the orchards of fruit, especially apples. We had lots of home made apple juice and apple sauce. We even gleaned from behind the potato harvester and collected a years supply of which we buried in a hole that we covered with straw and plywood so we could get access to it. Later he buried an old deep frezzer in the ground and poured a conc slab around it, than build his shed with the buried frezzer under the tool bench. We stored a lot of potatos and apples in the old chest. I hated having to be the one to clean it out in the summer after things began to rot.

Dad would also take on side jobs to help the family budget. We spent several Saturdays doing percilation tests for septic systems for a development next to the Columbia River. He also took on servicing a rural water district reading and installing or repairing water meters. This just happened to be enough income every month to support me on my mission.
He even took up sign painting. I was able to help him on a few buildings that he painted signs on. I probably played around more than helped.
I remember going camping a lot as a family. Dad loved to fish but never got to do it a much as he would like.
Dad was also known as Uncle Mort by my cousins and uncles. Dad would always have a few magic tricks (disapearing coins, etc) to tease all the kids that were around. Dad had a short thumb (he cut it off on a table saw when I was a young kid) that he would show to small kids that he would see sucking their thumbs and tell them to watch out because they might suck it off like he did.
Dad loved photography as well. He had a darkroom in the basement which we did a lot of black and white photos. (color photos were just starting to come around then). I took advantage of the darkroom and got an A in a high school photography class. I still enjoy photography to this day. Dad made me read about photography and understand how the features on the camera worked. He did not want to just give me the camera and point and shoot.

Dad died early in his life at the age of 50 with Luekemia. This picture is one of the last good pictures of him at Wendy & I's wedding before he became ill 3 months later.
I think the part I miss most is not having had the opportunity to have had an adult relationship with him, like I am now enjoying very much with my own sons.
Thanks dad for teaching me to work hard and appreciate what I have and serve others even when I did not want to. It has benifited me through out my life.