Ninety-two years and eight days; that was the span of Dad’s life in this realm. He left us a year ago, but he will always be in our hearts.
Eddie Springsteen, Aden and Verda’s boy
When I hear mention of Eddie, my first thought is of my brother. Only if the reference was from one of my departed elders would I think first of Dad, for whom my brother was named. Dad was always Eddie to my Grandma Olsen, his mother, and often to his brothers and sisters. According to Grandma, my grandfather Aden Springsteen named Dad on a phone call to her father Edwin Case reporting the birth of a new grandson.
Edwin Frank Springsteen was born November 30, 1924 at the Brink farm west of DeWitt, Michigan on what is now Airport Road. Aden rented the farm and split the milk check from the cows that belonged with the farm. Sometime before my Aunt Madge was born on June 7, 1927 Aden moved his family to a farm owned by the City of Lansing to operate a piggery for garbage disposal. Shortly after Uncle Hud was born on November 1, 1929 Aden and Verda bought a farm in Fairplain Township, Montcalm County just south of Sheridan. They purchased the farm from Verda’s brother John Case, who lived diagonally across the road in Bushnell Township. Dad lived on the farm until he was grown, enough experience to convince him that he didn’t want to be a farmer.
Dad was the fourth of seven children in Aden and Verda’s family. He tended to be fairly quiet but had no problem talking when inspired. He liked to tinker with things to see how they worked or to see how they might be used. One of my Uncle Hud’s favorite stories about Dad involved an outhouse, an electric fence, some wire, conductive mesh, and my Aunt Lorna. Dad told me that after a couple of days he had thought his experiment wasn’t going to work until his sister stormed into the house after a rain. Lorna informed me that the question on her lips was “where is that little snot?!”
Dad grew up in a large family with three brothers, three sisters, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Dad’s father Aden Springsteen died March 6, 1941 from injuries sustained in an accident. Dad’s mother Verda married Fred Olsen on July 22, 1945.
Dad and his remaining siblings have passed since I made these charts.
After graduation from Sheridan High School in 1943, Dad enlisted in the Navy. He trained at Great Lakes north of Chicago, where he became friends with Durward “Dude” Pontius of DeWitt, Aunt Madge’s husband-to-be. Dad and Dude both served on the USS Essex, the first of a new class of aircraft carriers, for the remainder of World War II. They both narrowly escaped down a hatch as a kamikaze plane struck the Essex on November 25, 1944, five days before Dad’s twentieth birthday. If they hadn’t been so nimble, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Dad lived near Amsden in Fairplain Township after the war with his step-father and mother, Fred and Verda Olsen. He found work at the Gibson Refrigerator factory in Greenville, Michigan. This was later the largest refrigerator factory in the world until Electrolux moved its operation to Mexico in 2006. Dad took advantage of GI Bill benefits to train in refrigeration at Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Dad married Mom, Lois Kidder, at The Peoples Church in East Lansing on May 10, 1947. Uncle Mick (Donovan) and Aunt Helen Springsteen, who had been married there, were their witnesses. They lived in Big Rapids while Dad continued his education at Ferris Institute and then worked for Ray Kirvan in refrigeration. My brother Eddie and I were born while Mom and Dad lived in Big Rapids. Dad wouldn’t let Mom name me after him but she finessed a persuasive line of reasoning when my brother was born.
By 1951 Grandma Olsen felt compelled to get Dad and Mom moved closer to home. She found a house for sale west of Sheridan and Dad took a job working in plumbing for Oral Bush. My earliest memories are from this house, perhaps the oldest being Mom’s anticipation of my brother Kevin’s birth. Bush Hardware is now operated in Sheridan by the third generation of Bushes, going on four. Oral’s son Keith had studied with Dad at Ferris.
Dad found his niche when he went to work in construction for Frank Wyckoff and Lloyd Pitcher in the early 1950s. With a remarkable eye for precision and a natural affinity for wood, Dad became a craftsman in carpentry. By the time Dad retired from Wyckoff Construction more than thirty years later, he had helped build and upgrade countless homes and businesses, specializing in cabinet work. As Mom is fond of saying, Dad made a lot of women happy (with their kitchens).
In 1962-1963, Dad built his own house in Sheridan next to Frank Wyckoff’s new house on the south shore of Pearl Lake. My sister Joanne was born after we moved there. A third house was built next to ours a couple of years later for Uncle Hud and Aunt Dorothy. Many family reunions and countless gatherings were held between our houses. Dad and Mom lived there until 1989.
While my brothers and I were growing up Dad helped Scoutmaster Wayne Lane with activities for Troop 60 and assisted Little League coaches for the Sheridan Bears. As my sister grew up he wore hairdresser caps and turned a broken Easy-Bake Oven into a trouble light that Joanne still uses. Somewhere along the line he joined the Sheridan Lions Club, of which his father Aden had been a charter member. He served on the Board of Trustees at the First Congregational Church of Sheridan, and was a lifetime member of VFW Post 5065.
From the late 1980s through the 1990s Dad and Mom were back and forth between mobile home parks in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and rural Stanton north of Sheridan. Dad continued his artistry with wood, creating all sorts of things with woodworking and carving tools.
In 2002 Dad and Mom decided to settle in one place and had a modular house built in Sheridan. In the fall of 2003 we had a similar house built next door and around the corner.
Dad suffered the limitations of Parkinson’s Disease in the last years of his life. He had ornery moments (that runs in the family), but he was always steady Eddie despite physical infirmity. Dad was cared for outside the home for some time, mostly at Green Acres in Greenville. Even then, Mom spent nearly every day with him and we brought him home for holidays and special occasions. He would tire at home with the family by late afternoon and ask to be taken to his home away from home.
Dad passed over in the afternoon of December 8, 2016. Mom and I stopped for lunch that day at Wendy’s, where Dad always enjoyed their burgers and chili. This year on Dad’s birthday, as Mom promised him, we had Wendy’s lunch in his memory.
Here are previous posts about Dad’s passing: