Remembering my father on his birthday
“Put your weights away…. Come on dare boys, I ain’t gonna pick up afta ya”
If you trained in BodyMagic(my gym) during the 80s or early 90s than I have no doubt you heard those words a thousand times.
Even today, almost 20 years since I lost him I run into people who were a part of the gym and the first thing they say is”your dad was the best” or Is the old man still around?”
Metro “pops” Kociaba was born in Ansonia, Ct. on November 5, 1911. He served in the U.S. army during world war 2 along with his brothers Nick, Andrew and John.
We really don’t know for sure when he married my mother as they lied about it for so long I don’t think they even remembered the year themselves He adopted my older brother, John who was already in his teens and claimed him as his own for the rest of his life.
He worked long hours running his own gas station for many years than in later life worked as a janitor for the city of Hollywood. I remember being so impressed when I was a kid that my dad knew the mayor and the guy obviously liked and respected him. Come to think of it it seemed like he knew everyone in town as people always were talking to him no matter where we went.
When I first joined a gym he would take me then come back to pick me up. Some how that gradually changed and he stayed and began to help me with my workouts. He would spot me and help me change the weights and I think that’s when we really started to get close. He never did a set but was always there pushing me and encouraging me to do more.
When I wanted to have my own gym he supported me but kept a very close eye on the “purse strings”. All those years of struggeling with the gas station and my mothers hair salon gave him a great business mind. If not for him I would have spent every penny as fast as it came in and my dreams of my own gym would have come to a quick end.
Looking back I really wonder how we made it. He always seemed to be giving someone a break on the price or extending someone credit. “say dare Tommy, where’s dat green stuff you promised me today?” Was a common phrase heard in the gym. He had no polish and no subtlety he would just ask right in front of everyone. It embarrassed some people and probably pissed off a few but they paid.In todays world people would say he had no filters but the truth was he was the most honest and fair person you would ever meet. He cut you a break and now you were playing games with his money and he wasn’t going to take that. Of course two weeks later the same guy would need something and he would extend him credit all over again.
Some people thought he was a foolish old man and tried to con him. And some people stole from us and didn’t think he knew. He always knew. “we’ve got enough and he must really need it.”was his answer when I wanted to have an employee arrested that we both knew stole some cash. He never missed a thing when it came to the cash…our bookkeeping system was the worst but he always knew when something was more than a dollar or two off.
One of my happiest and saddest memories of my father is the day we buried him. My brother and I looking through his things came across his “little black book”! Yup right out of the old movies complete with womans names, phone numbers, birth dates and even stars after their names!!!! We both wondered how many stars we would find after our mom’s name but she wasn’t in there at all. Obviously the book was very old before mom.
Whatever I have accomplished in my life and whatever good I might have ever done is because of him. And I miss him very much.
Like I have said many times in the past, “I hope someday when I grow up I am half as good a man as he was”
Happy Birthday dad