In Memoriam: Herbert Michael Ohley – Teen Hero for the Night

(Note: I previously wrote a few of these in memory of my father.  I am re-posting them here as this blog will be the home of all my writings.)

(Note Part Duex:  Upon the first posting of this on my Facebook, my mother confirmed that the story is indeed true…  and if you think my mother is a liar I’ll be tempted to go “teen-Herb” on ya.)

While still somewhat under the heading of Early Life, I want to relate one of my favorite stories from my father’s teen years.  If someone has information that corroborates this story, I’d love to hear it.  If you have information to the contrary, don’t tell me – I don’t want to know.

I say that jokingly of course, but truthfully this story has been legendary to me since I first heard it as a wee lad.  It was relayed to me by my father in the interest of teaching me what it means to be a man.  It has resonated deep in my soul ever since.

Without further ado, here it is:

My father, my mother, and one of her friends were walking home from having gone to the movies when they were approached by a group of surly young men looking for trouble.

As the group surrounded my father and the ladies, my dad made them a proposition:  let the young ladies leave and I’ll fight you one at a time.  They gladly accepted.

As a parenthetical note here, my father never had any formal training in any of the fighting arts except wrestling that I’m aware of, but he did have a collection of books on boxing, judo, and other means of self-defense.  I found them once as a child and he related to me how, as a young man who was significantly smaller than other guys his age, he had to learn how to defend himself.  I can definitely relate.

Enough about that, back to the story…

After accepting his proposition, the group of young men opened up a gap in the circle they had formed and told my mother and her friend to beat it.  What follows is the rest of the story put to paper in the best way I can, in the words of my dad, trying to keep his tone while telling it:

“Then the first guy stepped up… and got knocked down.”

(Legend has it, my father had a pretty mean right cross.)

“Another jumped in and we tangled for a bit…  now this whole time I’m thinking I just got to keep these guys busy long enough for the girls to get home and I can make my break.

When the remaining guys realized I was going to best this dude as well, they all started to jump in.  That’s when I ran like hell.

You see son, that’s the other thing you need to know…  You better be able to run like hell – cause sometimes that’s the only way out.

So I outran those fools and made it home to find the girls already there.”

….

And that’s the story of my father, teen hero of the night.

Perhaps it was embellished on his part…perhaps, maybe not.   Who knows?  Who cares, really?

The point is this:  this story embodies principles that my father believed in and truly lived by.  My pops came from an era where men believed their place in society in relation to females was one of care, protection, respect.   He, on more than one occasion, severely reprimanded me for being disrespectful to women.

I personally witnessed him slam on his truck brakes, grab a guy by the collar, and slam him against a telephone pole when I was kid for hitting a girl – I’ll have to tell that one later.

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