Tuesday, 5 April 2011


She glances at the photo, and the pilot light of memory flickers in her eyes. ~Frank Deford

This morning, while rummaging through my desk at the office, I stumbled on the printed program from my father’s funeral. He died in 2009 and, for some reason, I’d kept the little memento in my desk drawer. I’d forgotten it was there; so, to come unexpectedly face to face with Daddy—at the office, of all places—something inside me just tuned up, and I cried.

Somehow, in my romance writer’s mind, thoughts of Daddy dredged up a memory of something he and I shared, something that I realized ended—the sharing of it, anyway—when he died.

What was that something? A fantasy that my father unwittingly ignited inside me long ago. Goodbear.

Since he is a real person, I won’t divulge Goodbear’s first name. I wrote about him long ago in another blog, using a fictitious first name, but today he blossomed in my mind and my heart once again with the sight of Daddy’s funeral program, and I want to think about him for a while.

Goodbear was an army buddy of my father’s during World War II. I first saw him years ago while browsing through my parents’ scrapbook. Although the album was filled with many, many black and white photographs taken during Daddy’s army days, Goodbear’s picture stood out among the others. And, here I was—this young girl who lived in dreams with her books and writing and drawing—having a crush on an illusion in a sepia snap shot from long ago.

Back then, I suppose I liked him because he was different. He wasn’t a blond, home-town boy like the other photos. There was just something--something special--about him.

Today, as a woman, I know what it is about Goodbear that appealed and continues to appeal to me. Sure, as an adult, I appreciate his lithe body as he stands perpetually frozen in time with his leg causally bent and his hand resting on his hip. I shiver a little at his nice form, his dark complexion. I think, just as I did when I first noticed him, that he is so very handsome, so very sexy. Seems my appreciation for the dark men started long, long ago.

But every time I look at the photograph, my attention is drawn to his face—his sort of sad, knowing, serene eyes and the gentle smile. So relaxed, yet so unique from the other boisterous young men in the other photos. As though Goodbear had a secret, as though he KNEW someone would look at his photo one day and wish they knew him. As though he knew I would see him and wonder about him.

Daddy didn’t know much about Goodbear, only that he was American Indian from Oklahoma. The seemingly quiet fellow would playfully torture the Japanese cooks by grabbing them and thumping them on their heads. And that’s about all my father recalled of Goodbear. It had been, after all, over sixty years.

But every time I saw my father, we still talked about his army days, and he still recounted the same details about my secret crush, Goodbear. Daddy seemed to enjoy the telling of it all, and I treasured the hearing of it.

Well, Daddy is gone now. And, only this morning, did the truth settle sadly into my heart that, with my father went Goodbear as well. I realized that, with his passing, Daddy and Goodbear are both mere memories. I see now that the mysterious young dark-headed man was not only a fantasy of mine, but a link between me and my father’s past. Goodbear served as a piece of memory that my Dad loved to relive, of a time when he was young; and it offered me a brilliant photograph of the man my father was BEFORE he became Daddy.

So, Goodbear, I owe you, man. I knew, and I think—somehow, mystically—you knew, too, that you’d serve a purpose in my life, somehow, somewhere, down the road. Everybody does, I think—serve a purpose in other lives, that is. Wherever you are now, Goodbear, thank you.


Sarah Ballance said...

Wow. This is awesome! And you're bringing to mind similar stories my grandfather shared. I never thought of how he took his stories with him when we lost him. Thank goodness for those memories and the way they help them all live on. Beautiful post, m'lady.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Sarah! It made me feel so melancholy for a while this morning. But they're sure nice memories.

Thanks for stopping by!

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

That is such an awesome story, thank you for sharing it. Are you going to write that young man's story? I feel that it should be told, don't you?

Old photos are great for inspiration. As Rod Stewart once said, every picture tells a story.

C. Zampa said...

Welcome, Julie! You know, you are SO right! Oh, and there are so many stories to imagine, since I don't know anything about him except what Daddy knew. My imagination has run absolutely wild!

Thanks for visiting!

Cassie Exline said...

You're right, lots of stories begging to be told. Go for it, Carol, can't wait to read whatever you come up with.

C. Zampa said...

Hi, Cassie! You know, I am tempted, very tempted. So many scenarios in my mind with him!
Good to see you!

Damon Suede said...

What a lovely post and a lovely memory. As I get older I'm fascinated by the ways memories acquire layers by their recall, so that it isn't just the initial experience but the different points they've resurfaced and refracted in our lives that affect us when we re-remember.

Thanks for posting this.

C. Zampa said...

Damon, thank you for visiting. It was indeed my pleasure. A chance to relive this memory, although today it was so sad for me. I didn't see it coming.

Tess MacKall said...

This reminds me of my Colonel. Only he's still with me. Funny the way memories work. Their purpose.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Carol, you leave me speechless. I have known a few Goodbear in my day. And they were exactly as you depicted. Sad, vulnerable, sexual, and yearning for their place.

Outstanding post!

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

You made me cry, Carol. lol. Seems when your dad died, you lost connection with two good men. ((Hugs))

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Tess, I never thought of it that way! I suppose Goodbear is sort of my 'Colonel'.
You know the feeling, then, don't you?
Thanks for stopping by! Hugs!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you and hello, Joylene! Oh, we all have a Goodbear, I reckon. And you're right, they are all the same.

Hugs to you and thank your for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Lisa, dear lady.
Made me cry, too, Lisa. It never hit me until today that Goodbear is sort of gone, too. I have the picture, but I sort of 'lived' it with Daddy.

Hugs and love to you!

Nigel said...

A wonderful post, Carol.

Sometimes all we have of those we loved, of those we came to know, even vicariously, is memories.

Thank you for sharing.

C. Zampa said...

Nigel, it is SO good to see you, my friend! I miss you! I've not been on my blog in a while, and I need to hop over to my 'following' list and visit you!

Hugs to you, sweetie!

Sloan Parker said...

Wonderful post, Carol! I have tears in my eyes. This reminds me of how much I learned about my grandparents from the memories and reflections of my parents, the stories told by others, the photos I still hold close. All that makes me, as an adult, feel closer to the grandparents I only knew as a child.

Thanks for sharing this!

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Sloan!
I'm so grateful for these old photographs. They're such valuable pieces of history, particlarly within each family. And, like you said, sometimes of those we only DO know through others' memories and the photos.

Thank you for visiting.

Adrian GoodBear said...

Hello. That man you speak of is my granfather, a cheyenne.

C. Zampa said...

To Adrian Goobear:
I saw your post in my email, but it's not on the blog any longer, so I figure you may hve deleted it.

Anyway...It made me cry to see your name there, happy to make a connection with something that has always only been a memory all my life...and not even a memory from my own life, but from my father's.

Hearing him talk about your grandfather always made me smile, and you'd not believe how many times I made him repeat the same stuff, just because he seemed to talk with such respect. He loved to talk about his WWII experiences, and your grandfather was one of those aspects.

I pray I've not offended you or anyone in your family by posting this memory. It's been something I cherished for years, and hated seeing it pass with my father.

Thank you for visiting. I'm honored.

Unknown said...

Hi Carol, I'm Duyen GoodBear and yes this is a pic of my grandfather, I would be the one to be offended, but am honored by the post and memory u have for my family's name, hope life seeks u nothing but blessings and your family.

C. Zampa said...

Duyen, it is so wonderful to meet you! More than you can know.

That one photograph, all these years, has been so cherished to me. I'll never know why, but then I think the beauty is in the mystery of it---a person I never met, but felt like I knew.

Blessings to you and your family as well. And thank you for responding. It made my day.

Anonymous said...

that's a cool picture, I didn't get to know Leonard goodbear Sr. but our names are only switched. there's Leonard Sr. then Leonard Frank Jr. then there's me Frank Leonard. your story is pretty awesome. in honor of our great grandfathers memory to let you know for your knowledge, he was a Cheyenne chief as is my father leaonard. frank Jr. I only hope not to carry that responsibility. You had feelings for a Cheyenne chief my dear, one out of 44 in the Cheyenne nation, he became known throughtout Oklahoma as a great man, honored and respected and at his funeral there were several other tribes who honored him as well. You were right in your admiration all this time about him and in my opinion the men of them times were all forged in steel.

Anonymous said...

I just wish more Caucasians would acknowledge Native Americans as respectable people. The first nations have helped this county in more ways than most will come to know. People like Leonard Sr. are few but make a major impact on the different people they meet. I'm honored as well to have met someone who seen him alive and in his best days. My prayers are out to you and your family.

C. Zampa said...

Frank, you made my day with your comments.

That was one of the outstanding things I saw in his photo all these years. His noble carriage. I think it struck me so, even more than his handsome looks.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Leonard Sr. has had this nice place in my heart all this time. Of all the WWII photos I saw of my father's this one stood out to me, made me so curious to know who that wonderful man was.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Anonymous said...

I believe his heart was always in the right place. he would help people in need therefore would give them the last money he had or take you in if you had no place. in our tribe that's what a chief is supposed to do, he has to be able to give all his worldly possessions to help another in need. he might have had to do it but I think Leonard Sr. Truely had a heart of gold because it showed amoung so many tribes. TheAir Force used to fly his flag before several pow wows here in Oklahoma after his passing, it was neat to know that his flag flew overhead before they all began to dance. He became a very highly decorated soldier and was an airborne paratroopper and did over 60 jumps behind enemy lines. I'm so happy and proud of him and try to think of him daily for guidance. Thank you for sharing, it makes many smile in pride.

Anonymous said...

hello my name is Leonard f.Goodbear. i read your article of my lifes hero, as my father i was a paratrooper also. i live to try and make my father proud, following in his footsteps but not filling his mocosins. i shed few tears , chiefs dont cry in front of his people but i could not help it, i do miss my dad very much. i asked him for guidance everyday, for now i am a chief taking his position nut not his place. you stirred up a lot of good memory`s of him. he used to tell me stories of his time at war. i could go on and on. me and my brother Ralph were in the vietnam era. vet ralph being a door gunner, myself being a armour tank. both of us had wings of war aviation and airborne soldiers. also my son Shawn Goodbear Medlock also being a soldier and airborne, 18th airborne regiment. 5th army my father after the war, reinlisted in the airforce and was stationed at rimaiane air base, frankfort,germany. he had a off spring of german decent. we would like to find is family in germany if you could be of some help it would bring a closure on that side of the world. knowing my dad as a good warrior chief, it think they would like to know about him i am sure of that.i would like to corespond with you more. i would have like to have met you beloved father, as my dad used to say "there were angles from hell when the liberated los banos p.o.w camp, luzon philipines. they were in leyete gulf.
thanks to you and your`s with our love
cheyenne chief Leonard f. Goodbear jr and family and tribe. heuhoi

Anonymous said...

My name is Sunni RedFawn GoodBear as my Father Leonard F. GoodBear Jr Stated above Thank you so much for sharing your memory of my Grandfather Leonard F. GoodBear Sr. It brought tears to my eyes as I was trying to read your article out loud to my husband my voice began to tremble with pride as I continued to read, to have been able to have any memory of my Grandfather I would be greatful but to read the memory of him through your words I am inspired I was born May of 1985 to my knowledge my Grandfather held me several times before he passed away to be with MuheyO (Heavenly Father) in 1986. Again thank you and bless you from my family to yours WE ARE PROUD to say GOODBEAR.