In response to the legendary Agnes DeMille’s insistence that I must write my stories, I told her that someday I would write a book called… my hands sweeping away from each other indicating a headline… “The Son of the Cucumber King”… and, hands narrowing to indicate a subtitle… “Is a Real Pickle.” Delighting in the title, she made me promise I’d write the book--but being a woman who never lacked an adamant opinion, she exhorted me to get rid of the subtitle.
My father, who sported a star sapphire ring and a sterling silver cigarette holder, was obviously somewhat of a showman. By placing his middle initial in front of his name, he was D. Louis Fox. That name was his bond. He could walk into a bank anywhere in Florida, his base of operations, and borrow a million dollars (in the 40s) solely on his signature. But my father would never do anything like that. To the contrary, he always overpaid his income taxes “a little”--for fear of cheating the government. This is real. So is it that he bought land in Florida for farmers who had no money, and operating solely on verbal agreements, went partners with them on the crops.
A product of his generation, which went head-on with the Depression, he was a driven man, relaxed only when he was with his family, which was too infrequent. Forced to slow down—to a stop—by an early “warning” heart attack at forty-six that had him bed-ridden and suffering his own depression, he insisted on going back to work. The doctor said it would kill him if he did; he said it would kill him if he didn’t. He was dead at forty-seven. I was fatherless just days before my eighth birthday.