Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Dad

This is my Dad eating caviar off a trash-can lid.

It's Cincinnati, Ohio, 1968 or 1969. We lived on a winding cul-de-sac in a subdivision. The sunblasted patio was too hot to sit on when Dad came home from work, so he would set up a folding lawn chair in the driveway, in front of the garage. He would use a garbage can for a table. There he would sip his evening martini and nibble on pistachios or other salty snacks. Sometimes our neighbor would join him.

My mother tolerated this inelegance, I think, with good humor. Once, she bought him a jar of Romanoff lumpfish caviar from the "gourmet foods" section at Kroger. It became a family joke.

I remember a lot of things about my Dad. His loud sneezes. His corny jokes. He liked peanut brittle. He sometimes made corn bread on weekend mornings. He liked to eat sardines on crackers.

He had a fondness for Pogo comics. He introduced us all to Chinese food, with trips to Chinatown when we lived in Chicago. He taught me how to use chopsticks.

He liked to sit in the living room after dinner, listening to records - Tchiakovsky's 5th Symphony was one of his favorites.

In 1975 after I graduated from college, I lived in Greenwich Village, and worked in off-off Broadway theatres. Dad commuted into the city from New Jersey to his job Midtown. Every month or so, he took me out to lunch. He liked to go to the Japanese joints on Third Avenue. He never asked questions about my louche life, or my strange attire. He just bought me sushi, and taught me how to eat it. He always slipped a twenty into my hand for cab fare when we said goodbye.

He had to be the only man in Rumson, New Jersey, in 1971 who owned a Japanese Kamado green clay grill. When he was Vice President of the electronics plant he worked for, his fondest friends were the custodians. He smoked cheap, stinky cigars, and after I married he invited my husband to join him for one on the back porch whenever we visited.

There were four of us kids. We grew up and we moved away. We went to SoHo, Seattle and Pasadena. We went to Rochester, and to Ithaca; Tianjin and Guangxi. We circled out and came back to visit. My dad loved us all, and he especially loved his eight grandchildren and one great-grandaughter.

Here's my Dad in 1954 with me, his first child.

Here's my dad with me and Brother One:

Here's my dad when the third pregnancy turned out to be Brother Two and Brother Three:

Here's me with my Dad in 1957. He's letting me go off on my own, yet he's always been there behind me with a helpful hand in case I need it.

4 comments:

SUEB0B said...

I can see you in him.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

TWINS!!! And eating caviar off a trash can lid. I heart your dad.

I tagged you with a meme! Have fun with it!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

What a terrific tribute!

kcinnova said...

Here via Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor.
Lovely tribute. <3
The trashcan lid cocktail table is a wonderful memory, and I love the look on his face as he looks at little you. (He looks a bit overwhelmed with the twins, so tiny!)
But even more touching is the way he found to relate to you as an adult.