Larry Elder, heard on KABC radio, has written nonfiction books from the conservative point of view. His newest, Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives, Eight Hours (WND Books: $25.95) begins with his return to L. A.from Cleveland with the intention to finally have it out with his father who beat he and his brothers every day of their youth. He was mean, unloving and threatening. He would answer tears in the middle of a beating with “I’ll give you something to cry about.”
Despite this horror of a father, Larry’s mother and his high school teachers encouraged him to apply to Ivy League colleges. He was accepted at Brown, later he went to law school in Cleveland, where he met his mother’s sister and her husband,Uncle Thurman, who had known his father before he was married. As Larry told his uncle about his father and Thurman’s friend, it sounded like two different people. It was this that gave Larry the courage to confront his father.
The book is divided into three sections: “En Route,” “The Talk,” and “Postscipt.”
His father, Randolph, the owner of Elder Snack Bar, closes the restaurant in order to hear Larry out. He does and proceeds to tell Larry that he never wanted to be like the man he called “father” who beat him and kicked him out of the house at age 13 while his mother looked on and said “nothing.” Yet Larry remembered his father mailing money to his mother as a grown up. Randolph worked his way at any job to stay alive. He joined the Marines. After the war he couldn’t get a job other than as a janitor in L. A. because he was a “colored man.” This was all new to Larry. Randolph worked three jobs to keep food on the table. He had no time for friends and Larry’s mother was a woman who had gone to college for a year which in their world meant Randolph had married up and she had married down.
Not only is there a reconciliation but mutual tears. The reconciliation carries over to his brothers in the years that followed. It is a beautiful book with a message for family understanding. So fathers, put your belt buckles away.