What About Bob?


This is a scan of an old Polaroid. The guy with the illegal smile is Bob, Steve’s Godfather. I don’t remember his last name. I know his wife’s name was Janice. That’s about all I know about him other than the fact that he and Janice were Catholic and that they lived on top of us when we lived on Washburn Crossing Road in Downey, California, when our son Steve was thirteen months old.

That’s Steve in Bob’s arms.

One day, when Steve was napping, Vesta and I lit up a joint. We didn’t do that a lot, very rarely actually, as we both had jobs. She worked days at Douglas Aviation, helping to build DC 8s and I worked nights at North American Aviation, helping to build the Saturn Apollo spacecraft

This was a Wednesday. I remember that. But why we were both home, I don’t remember. We never called in sick, cuz we needed the money. Maybe it was a holiday. Anyway, Vesta and I were in the living room, listing to music, probably the Beatles, when Bob and Janice interrupted us.

What’s that smell, Bob said on the other side of the screen door.

“We’re smoking bananas Vesta said.” That was a craze then. It was all over the radio. People were saying if you smoked bananas, you could get high. We tried it. It didn’t work. But Vesta’s quick thinking put them at ease.

“Can we try?” Bob said as they came in.

“Sure.” I handing him the joint. He inhaled like he was smoking a Winston, then he handed it to his wife. They took a couple hits each, then we put it out. I remember Bob saying he felt fine and that he didn’t think there was anything to the banana stories which were going around. But he was smiling wide and he seemed awful darned happy. Janice too.

Then they got down to business and told us why they came. They were worried Steve could never get into Heaven, cuz he wasn’t baptized. Any other time, I’d’a told him to take a hike. But heck, we were feeling pretty good and I didn’t wanna turn his happy self loose on Downey without an escort, so I let him talk.

And the more he talked, the more I thought getting Steve baptized might not be such a bad idea. I mean, what if the Catholics were right? So, I asked Vesta and she said she was okay with it. So, she woke Steve up, got him dressed and we all headed out to our car, with me driving, of course, cuz Bob was way to happy to do that.

We went to Bob’s church, which wasn’t too far. We went in, cuz they didn’t lock churches back then. I found a nun and asked her could she get a priest. She did and he wanted to know what we needed.

I told him what we were there for and he said they baptized babies on Sundays during a special mass.

“It’s now or never, Father,” I said and Bob stopped smiling. But only for a few seconds. He was the kind of man who would never dream of talking back to a priest. But the priest surprised him. He took one look at Steve, who was about a year older than his usual baptismal clients and figured maybe I was telling the truth.

“Okay,” he said, “we’ll do it now.” And he asked the nun to get a baptismal certificate, which she did. Then we all went to the Holy Water font by the entrance and he baptized him. Only took a couple minutes. And that’s how, Bob and Janice, people I barely remember, became Steve’s Godparents.

Ken Douglas Wedding and Portrait Photography, 1250 Ralston Street, Reno, NV 89503 
Phone: 775 393-9529