You have to pass a test to get a driver's license. You have to fulfill a certain amount of trainin to become a registered beautician. But they'll let any son-of-a-bitch become a parent!

"Open Letter to Dad: Please Stop!"

This letter is from the son of Ronald W. Cram, described by a police officer as a "fatal accident waiting to happen" when arrested last week on what could be his 12th drunk-driving conviction. The son responds to comments his father made in an interview - that his drinking caused no problems for anyone:

...or read an article putting the story in context with the father's defense.


* * *

You say your drinking doesn't cause problems.

Q. Ask my dad where he had to go on the day I was born.
A. Jail, spending weekends for D.U.I. (Driving Under the Influence)

Q. Ask my dad where he was for the first 10 years of my life.
A. Jail every year for D.U.I.

Q. Ask my dad where he was on 8-8-94 when I had open heart surgery.
A. Home drinking with Johnny P., and mom found you smoking and drinking in the bedroom that was to be smoke-free for me.

Q. Ask my dad where he was for my junior high graduation.
A. Over at Mac's drinking. You said it wasn't important enough, like high school graduation.

Q. Ask my dad why I don't smoke, drink or use drugs.
A. Because I've seen it kill my Aunt Marna and Uncle Richie. I've seen it take over your every living moment. Your beer and cigarettes come before anything important. You say there's nothing better to do. For as long as I can remember you've told mom and I to get out . . . if we didn't like it. Two, three times every day.

He says he camps and takes me fishing. When was that, Dad? 6-91. Mom and I got there first to get the camp site. You came five hours later drunk, couldn't put the tent up and fell through it. Then you fell in the middle of the camp of people next to us.

You put us in the street. You said you needed your space. You took away the only home I've known for 16 years. You said it's your house, get out. [Gramma's house].

Mom has always been there, even working two jobs while you just drank.

You said the union won't let you look for work. Do they expect us to starve? Some friends' dads stand on corners for hours for work. Not you. You use what money we had for beer. Dad, there are 365 days in a year. How many days do you not drink, except when you're in jail? Not one. Every time you come see me, you're so drunk you fall down, knock things over, but good ole mom puts you in her bed and hides your keys until the next day. You can't even give up one 12-pack [of beer] to help pay for my heart medicine.

I hear mom crying at night wondering how we're going to make it from payday to payday. She's gone without too long, just so I can have shoes, food, clothes, a roof over my head and pays for all my medical herself with no help from you or anyone else. Since I've been in school when have you come to just one event, Dad. Just one, name it. Never.

I hope other kids who read this know they are not alone. There are a lot of us kids out here going through the same thing.

No, Dad, your drinking hasn't caused any problems at all. It just ruined our whole family. You say you can stop any time. Well, if you love us, please stop. We love you still.

Your son

P.S. Dad, I'm 16, not 17, and Dad, I'm in 10th grade.