Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Feliz Cumpleaños, mi padre!
Happy Birthday to my father John O'Brian Konopak, known all his life as "Jack"--seen here, age 24, on his way to meet his ship for the war in the Pacific in January, '43, with my mother. It was on their wedding day, waiting for the train that would take them first to Santa Fe and thence to San Francisco.
He would have been 97 today. (Much like I am,) he wasn't GREAT at anything, but he was pretty damn good at whatever he did. I think he might have stayedin the Navy, but Mother wouldn't have it.
He did many things for a living, mostly involving sales of some sort or another. His last career was as a high school language-- English and Spanish -- and social studies teacher in Pojoaque, NM. It's an unincorporated, semi-rural community comprising three distinct native pueblos (Nambe', Pojoaque, and San Ildefonso), along with Hispanic farmers and ranchers, and gringo's of all kinds from all over, some wealthy retirees and many of whom worked in Los Alamos, which was only about 15-20 miles east.
Virtually every student who passed through Pojoaque High between 1968 and 1986 was in one or another of the classes he taught (including my brother, Peter). There was practically nowhere he went between the Monte Vista,Colorado and Las Cruces, or from Clovis to Gallup, where he didn't run into, and exchange fond greetings with, former students.
His wife, my/our, mother, preceded him in decease by about a year. She would have been 79 her next birthday (also my own 54th). Cigarettes, basically, killed them both.