How To Have A Happy Day

My dad, Pike Levine, has been gone for five years, so he was not around to celebrate Father’s Day. His family was thinking of him nonetheless.

His great grandson, Levi Pike Pastor, was born on June 13 and at his bris eight days later, his family gathered around to welcome him into the tribe. And at this momentous event, we highlighted my dad’s unique character trait and this is what we told him:

You are named for your great grandfather, Pike Levine, who could be described in the following way:

Scrappy– at the age of 14, he sold hot coffee to passengers on trains passing through Utica, NY, keeping the coffee hot by the same steam that powered the trains. The coffee, though hot, tasted awful. But by the time the customrers found that out, he had jumped off the moving train. Months later, he used some of this money to buy a tombstone for his mother, who died of pneumonia at age 42.

Gutsy – he went AWOL to marry his girlfriend. When he returned to base, he was called into the commander’s office. “Sit down, Sargent,” the base commander ordered. “Stand up, Private.” Let it be noted, soon thereafter, Pike was re-awarded his stripes because they were Europe bound. 

Practical – when he returned stateside after World War 2, he and his war bride quickly had two kids. He assembled their swing set and grounded the poles not just in dirt like most of the dads did, but he reinforced the holes with concrete. His children could swing as high as they wanted without fear of going airborne. It reflected the way he raised them: put them in a position to succeed and watch them soar.

Resourceful – he knew how to make money – from selling Venetian blinds to carpets to furniture to neighborhood bars to single family homes. And he became, after much night school education, the head of  his own real estate appraisal firm, serving as an expert witness in court too.

Irreverent – someone challenged him once, “Pike, now that you have money, you don’t talk to me anymore.” Pike shot back, “I never talked to you when I didn’t have money.”

Unique – he had many favorite phrases:

If you throw enough stuff against the wall, some of it will stick. (but he didn’t use the word stuff.)

Don’t’ get hurt, get even.

Nothing’s deader than yesterday’s romance. (He relished using that one after his daughters broke-up with their boyfriends or the boyfriends broke-up with them.)

You’re run of the mill. (Translation: You’re really special.)

The most famous one was “Them all.” He told his daughters it meant “Bless them all.” He told his son something different. If you knew Pike, you could figure it out.

Strong finisher – he closed every occasion with the now famous toast “Here’s to those who wish us well and all the rest can go to hell.”

And perhaps most importantly: he was a member of the Lucky Bastard Club. The Lucky Bastard Club was an informal grouping of crew members from the Eighth Air Force who completed a tour of duty in World War 2. Luckily, your great Grandfather Pike got into flying missions over Germany toward the end of WW 2, not at the beginning. By the time he was installed on a B-17 as a ball turret gunner, the Army Air Corp were sending out B-17s with escorts –  all flying in formation, which greatly cut down on the casualties. So he lived to tell the tale. Some 40,000 airmen didn’t. Hence, the Lucky Bastard Club membership.

So Levi Pike Pastor, may you follow in your great grandfather’s footsteps. May you be as unique, revered and loved as your great Grandpa Pike and may you always be “A LUCKY BASTARD.”


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