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Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down

Chapter One (03)

Life Before West Point

Making parts for the war
effort proved very lucrative. Years later as a golf
enthusiast, Avedes was dubbed “Doctor Dimples” after
inventing the machine that made the inner rubber core that
is the inside of golf balls. Avedes made millions off his
patent as it became the standard in every golf ball made
ever since. 
When my father submitted to his harsh, critical, older
brother’s wish and became Avedes’ newest employee-apprentice
in 1956, my father was making twenty-five cents an hour
supporting a wife and seven children with an eighth child
shortly on the way. Because Jake had a lot to prove to his
older brother boss, he worked extra hard, always looking for
approval and validation that never quite came. Because my
father was highly skilled in all things mechanical, with two
decades of submarine experience already behind him, he
swiftly learned the tool and die trade and ended up
methodically churning out precision parts requiring two ten-
thousandth of an inch tolerance. Soon he was consistently
turning out the best quality work, proving himself to be
among Avedes’ most skilled, dedicated employees. But Avedes
was a Type A personality, hard driving and extremely
demanding, often publicly berating his employees in front of
others in the shop. His high demand for excellence in
combination with his dictatorial approach to running his
company kept a revolving door between firing numerous
employees or his employees quitting on him due to the harsh
treatment and in-your-face public humiliation he subjected
his employees to. My father’s meticulous work ethic had him
working long hours, taking full pride in the quality of his
finished products that passed inspection an incredulous one
hundred per cent of the time. Meanwhile, Avedes’ foreman
took advantage claiming overtime while he left the shop for
hours on end to play around with the secretary. Though my
father possessed an integrity that found his foreman’s
behavior appalling, my dad felt it was not his place to “rat
him out” and kept his mouth shut, figuring it was Avedes’
responsibility to oversee the coming and goings of his own
right-hand man. Despite my father being among his best
employees, Avedes always underpaid his little brother with
the lowest wages of anyone in the entire shop. And despite
being a multimillionaire himself knowing his kid brother had
a large family he had to support, Avedes chose to pay my
father less than a dollar an hour. Putting up with the
ongoing harassment, belittling and injustices day in and day
out caused my volatile, high-strung, highly explosive dad to
come home every night and take it out on his family. 
Like my father, middle brother Nap was always loyal,
hardworking and dedicated to doing excellent work. But
unlike my father, Nap was always quiet, easygoing and
reserved, never showing any public display of anger, despite
how much he also was unfairly mistreated and verbally abused
by Avedes. In contrast, my father was angry and hot-tempered
all the time just like Avedes. Needless to say, after five
years of constant growing tensions and conflicts between
Avedes and Jake, one morning they literally came to blows,
at first hurling insults screaming back and forth. Enraged
Avedes yelled, “I never made a dime off of you!” Everyone in
the shop that had gathered around to watch knew that was
false. But Avedes had to save face because Jake had just
announced, “I quit!” As the big boss man, Avedes couldn’t
let his little brother yell back at him and get the last
word in, not in front of the crowd. Jake had long been bold
enough to always hold his own in these public skirmishes,
loudly disagreeing, talking back regularly and standing up
to his bullying brother whenever wrongly accused, blamed,
unfairly criticized, verbally chastised and publicly abused.
No, this time it was over-the-top. So Avedes feebly yelled
back, “You can’t quit because you’re fired!” Veins were
popping out of Avedes’ neck and temples as he began shoving
his youngest brother in an attempt to physically remove him
from his shop. But equally enraged Jake pushed Avedes right
back and in fact, began shoving him right out the shop door,
then quickly grabbed his toolbox and left the premises
forever. Jake’s parting words on his way past his brother,
“You know Av, you should have treated your kid brother a lot
better. That’s all I have to say to you.” All Avedes could
repeatedly say was, “I never made a dime off of you, you
no-good ingrate!” and true as any Hollywood mogul, “You’ll
never work in this town again, mark my words!” And for the
next twenty years Avedes and Jake never spoke a word to each
other again, creating a family rift between the Hagopian
clans that would last the next half century.
Our family grew up resenting Avedes for indirectly
making our lives a living hell. I ended up hating rich
people until I eventually came to realize not all wealthy
people are evil and that it inadvertently kept me from ever
having money, not to mention a life of prosperity and
abundance. But the strained factions created within the
Hagopian family carried over for fifty years until just this
last year. Its devastating impact even had negative
repercussions on our relations with “the good brother” Nap’s
family. Fortunately last year I made contact with Nap’s
oldest son, paving the way toward a reconciliation process
in the form of Avedes’ older son and daughter and spouses
coming to dinner to pay homage to my father who is now the
sole surviving Hagopian patriarch.
Little brother Jake went on to prove Avedes wrong by
moving onto bigger and better jobs in that same town
Springfield, acquiring jobs with far more pay where my dad’s
craftsmanship and expertise were finally given deserved due
credit and appreciation. A few years after that shoving
match, true vindication came when the owner and boss of
where my father was working happened to be Avedes’ golf
buddy. While putting on the green he told Avedes, “Jake’s
the best damn tool and die maker in New England, bar none.”
Under his breath Avedes was forced to reluctantly agree.
As much as tyrannical Avedes may have abused my father
by belligerently yelling and screaming at him all the time,
my father exceeded Avedes in his abuse towards my mother and
us kids, not only with his own belligerent tirades, nonstop
yelling and screaming, but his resorting to physical
violence became our ongoing living reality during those long
dark years. For every tongue lashing he received from Avedes
at work, we were given a lashing in the form of a beating at
home. And every time my mother tried to calm my father down,
invariably my dad would only become more unglued and even
more ballistic. He would typically react astounded, “You’re
siding with your no-good kids? You’re a bunch of bastards!”
He actually felt betrayed by his wife who he believed behind
his back had joined forces to collude and plot conspiracy
with the nine kids against him... all because my mother was
trying to protect and defend her children from further harm.
My dad was also insanely jealous and falsely accused my
faithful mother of having affairs throughout their fifty-
seven year marriage. At his worst, my father was truly
paranoid and psychotic. It was everyday madness that
sickened all of us, including my maniacal father. What made
it worse after having beat the shit out of me or some other
kid(s), was his sudden impulse to say how much he loved us.
The only time my father showed any real affection toward us
was right after afflicting so much damage. In his remorse
and need to feel better, he would attempt to assuage his own
guilt by saying how much he really loved us and didn’t mean
what he’d just done. It was at that moment my father became
demonstrative in attempting to show his affection and love
toward his children. When he’d reach for my hand, I would
cringe and pull away, only hating him even more.
My dad’s daily escapades created such a neighborhood
disturbance, those living close by could not help but
overhear his continuous temper tantrums, out-of-control rage
and daily abuse that terrorized our entire family. My
father’s booming voice and bigger than life presence could
be heard echoing outward from that crazy Hagopian home
within a quarter mile range. I think even our neighbors were
intimidated by my father as not once did they ever call the
police on him. My father was a recluse and the neighbors
wanted to keep it that way.
As I said before, my father’s life could only be
characterized as extremely harsh with undue stress, life and
death demands, fueled daily by mounting inequities and
injustices, and lots and lots of layers that covered up all
his long buried pain, sadness and loss. This is not to
excuse my dad’s horrific behavior and daily abuse toward us,
but merely to give it context and understanding. That said,
America’s parental morays and norms in the 1950’s and early
1960’s were far different from today’s. The old expression
“spare the rod and spoil the child” had always been the rule
of the day for parents for centuries past. It had accurately
characterized the disciplining practices of parents toward
their children for multiple generations of bygone eras. So
hitting your kids at that time was no big deal, just
standard disciplinary practice. Furthermore, back then
neighbors and police alike viewed domestic violence as an
internal family affair to be avoided and not get involved.
Again, this does not in any way justify nor minimize the
utter destruction and harm perpetrated on me and my hapless
family. In those days there were no child protection
agencies defining, outlawing and enforcing domestic violence
and child abuse laws. Thankfully, times have radically
changed and verbal, emotional and physical violence
committed on children today is a serious reportable offense
carrying grave consequences for families and offenders
(though I never understood why it is always the innocent
children who are traumatically removed from the family home
and not the perpetrator). Some say the pendulum has swung to
the other absurd extreme where adults often are mistakenly
or falsely accused and too many lives are destroyed in the
process. As a licensed Marriage Family Therapist practicing
in California for many years, I frequently found myself
challenging Children’s Services and Children’s Court after
they unfairly broke up families without just cause. As a
therapist I was left trying to minimize the damage done to
my clients at the hands of an inept, corrupt and broken
system that misuses its power to do the opposite of what was
designed and intended. Instead of protecting America’s
youth and their families, in fact the system too often is
responsible for abusing and destroying children and their
families. But that is a whole other story for another forum.
My father also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder from his World War II experience. As the submarine
machine gunner first class, at gunpoint he was forced to
murder innocent civilian fishing families in the Pacific all
because they happened to be born with slanted eyes. Though
he knew they were not Japanese but likely Philippine or
Pacific Islander, for seven decades he has been haunted by
memories, nightmares and flashbacks of bloody women and
children he had killed. Unlike the European theater of the
war, America maintained a secret racist war policy on the
Pacific high seas to eliminate all people with slanted eyes.

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