Large and Purple

1 06 2013

letter

When I was very young my Dad worked the night shift, midnight to eight, and started his TV fix-it business in the garage he built during the day. I’d bring my Barbies and play on the floor as he worked. When asked what my dad’s hobby was, I would say, “sleep”.

Connie&Dad B&W65

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, would became a local character because of that business he started. I spent a lot of time at the shop. My mom would pick me up from school and we’d “go to work.” He became a bit of a local celebrity from the commercials he created and starred in. They were those classic “bad” commercials that every town has. A big guy, he did one that said, “I stand behind everything I sell…because if I stood in front of it, you couldn’t see it.” But people identified with this large man who talked to them from their tv’s in their living rooms. Strangers really did come up to us when we were out for dinner and ask for his autograph.

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, shooting a tv commercial

My Dad, Lloyd McLeod, shooting a tv commercial

Purple Truck

The building that housed his business was known as “the large purple building.” The color came into being because when he had only one delivery truck, he let an ex-con paint it. He was very affordable and needed a job. It came back painted a wild purple color. But people soon started asking Dad if he had a fleet. A marketing accident that turned into a successful brand was born.

We were a tight family unit. My Dad was a ham and we thought the attention funny.  I may have spent a lot of time “at work”, but my dad was at every school event, birthday party and if I had to get a shot at the doctor, he was there to hold my hand. He loved for our home to be filled with my friends. I remember him playing dead at slumber parties as little girls squealed and jumped on him and tried to wake him up. And then the screams when we woke him up. We’d all laugh and giggle until we were out of breath.

My Dad was large, literally and symbolically. He loved to eat and drink and smoke his cigarettes. He had a big laugh and when he snored, it rattled the windowpanes. He loved people and nothing made him happier than when someone dropped by our house unexpectedly. I never had that teenage need to sneak out. My house was the place my friends came to at all hours. Because of his long years on the night shift, he was a catnapper. Odds were if you came by at midnight, he’d be up. The only rule was not to wake my mom. If she showed up in the doorway in her robe, it meant party over.

I can now see that he was groundbreaking as a brand in his time. As a teenager, however, when your parents are supposed to be invisible, having a Dad on TV was mortifying. When I was in high school, I would have him drop me off at the corner rather than be driven to the front door in one of his purple delivery vans.

My Dad left me a great legacy. I went into advertising because of those early lessons in branding. But more importantly is that I know what unconditional love is because of both my parents. Like Dad I believe in living life large. Dad and I both loved the movie Mame and her quote, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are staving to death!” For me a perfect evening is a dinner party at my house; food, friends, freely flowing wine, the telling of our stories and lots of laughter.

I realize that I’ve unconsciously filled my house with purple. I was painting an accent wall in my home a very deep purple. I went to the paint store that was now housed in Dad’s old purple building. They kept trying to get the color right, but it took two hours of mixing and remixing to get the exact color I wanted. I felt his spirit was there beside me as I was getting purple paint in his old shop and he just wanted me to stay there in his old purple building for as long as possible.

Some people see butterflies when they feel a loved ones presence. I see purple. I am my Father’s daughter.

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35 responses

1 06 2013
Lisa Garon Froman

Connie, your dad sounds wonderful. I hear about dads like this; I wish I had a similiar experience. But I figure we all learn from our dads one way or the other and it’s what we do with the lessons that count. Great job!

1 06 2013
conniemcleod

Lisa, I am sad that didn’t get the love from your Dad like I did. I went to an mazing meeting of Creative Louisiana on the Blues. Maxine Crump said that when there’s manure in you life, use it as fertilizer. You certainly have created a rich and full life for yourself. I’m so glad that we’ve become a part of each others lives.

2 06 2013
afterthekidsleave

Your dad sounds like a great guy. You’re so lucky to have had him!

2 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks. I was lucky!

3 06 2013
Grown and Flown

I love this story of your dad – the commercials, the purple color, the playing dead. He sounds like an amazing guy – you are so fortunate to have had him in your life.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thank you, I am the woman I am today because of my Dad. He was a good man and a great father.

3 06 2013
Ginger Kay

Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. You were a lucky girl – doubly so because you knew it. Love that you’ve filled your house with purple.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Ginger. Yep, purple is my favorite color.

3 06 2013
Sharon Greenthal

I love this story, especially because I can really tell that you and your father were closely connected. The fact that he spent so much time with you is unusual for “those days,” and you are so lucky that he was such a big part of your childhood!

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Sharon, whatever you grow up with is what you think is normal. It was only after I grew up that I realized how exceptional the amount of time I spent with my Dad was. I was blessed to have both the parents I had.

3 06 2013
Cathy Chester

I read this the other day and didn’t have time to post a comment. You know what? Your story was so amazing because I kept thinking about your dad. Larger than life and full of love and warmth and kindness. You were blessed to have him, and his spirit shows in your. Beauty, kindness, generosity of heart. Lovely post.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Cathy, I just read your post and I was thinking the same thing about your Dad. While it sounds like our Dads had very different personalities, we both had their unconditional love. We are both lucky to have that rare gift of love. And we both know that has made us the women we are today. Give your Dad a hug for me this Father’s Day.

3 06 2013
Jim Kemp

I enjoyed being one of those midnight visitors. Many nights after driving around in the pinto drinking Miller “Ponies” We would head to Connie’s house. Uncle Lloyd would be asleep in his chair but he didn’t care. He would wake up and talk until early in the morning. In the days before cabel he had an antenna. Of course it was the best money could buy. It was also the highest and the higher the better. One night there were some freak weather conditions and as channels would go off another one would come on. We stayed up late into the night to see how many stations we could pick up. I don’t remember how many it was but it seemed like a lot at the time. Probably 10 or 15. Not many by todays standard but it was a lot of fun.
It was some great times.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Jim, you were like a son to my Dad. He loved you dearly and loved all the time spent together. And you are still more like my brother. Love you!

3 06 2013
Pat

Connie, what a beautiful tribute to a remarkable man. Now, I see where you get your creative streak! Wish I lived closer so that I could pop in for one of your dinner parties, sounds perfect to me too. Oh yeah, and I LOVE the color purple.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Pat, if you’re ever stateside, I’d love to have a dinner party. Thanks for your kind words!

3 06 2013
Helene Bludman

Connie, wonderful memories! My dad also has the philosophy that life is to enjoy. Purple to me means loud and fun and full of life, just as your dad was. Thanks so much for sharing.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Helene, he certainly did live his life loud and to the fullest!

3 06 2013
Amanda Fox

I loved this Connie. What a great Dad! I can just picture the commercial with his line very vividly in my head. And isn’t it funny what sorts of things remind us of our loved ones? The colour purple – fabulous.

3 06 2013
conniemcleod

Amanda, it’s been over 20 years since he closed his business and people still remember the large purple building! It’ll remain my favorite color. Thanks for commenting!

4 06 2013
Phoebe

I must admit that when I read your title, I immediately thought of Barney! :/ It certainly caught my attention and I love how you shared your artwork! Great story about how the business happened upon the purple theme. Thanks for sharing.

5 06 2013
conniemcleod

HAHAHA! I thought of Barney too! Glad you liked it!

5 06 2013
javaj240

What great memories! I loved this!

5 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks!

5 06 2013
Raquel @ Organized Island

I love this post. I am thinking of your dad and his shop as the one in That Thing You Do. I love that he was so fun and caring. He was certainly a wonderful dad!

5 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks for commenting. He was a fun and caring Dad!

6 06 2013
Juan Simoneaux

Wow, Wow! I know it not shocking to you but I am sitting here crying. What a touching story. I remember how tickled I was when I first met you and realized who your dad was. Thanks for sharing!!

6 06 2013
conniemcleod

Juan, I am so moved that this touched you. My dad was a weeper, he could never make it through the blessing at Thanksgiving!! And you know that my Indian name is “she who weeps”. I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, surrounded by love.

7 06 2013
Nancy Hill

Having a character as a father certainly does enrich one’s life doesn’t it?

7 06 2013
conniemcleod

Yes Nancy! It did!

9 06 2013
Charissa Buckley

Love! 🙂

9 06 2013
Musings on Motherhood and Mid-Life

Thanks so much for this vivid portrayal of your dad. My daughter also loves the color purple, but that’s because of Barney:)

9 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks for stopping by. Barney did cross my mind when I wrote the headline!

17 06 2013
imnotasupermom

What a great story, Connie. I loved reading about your dad!

17 06 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks, I know he’s looking down on me and loving the attention he’s getting!

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