My dad died so long ago I don’t remember much. I’ve not had much use for Father’s Day since 1965.
I don’t think about him too often anymore. I wore a mustache in his honor for thirty years, hating it. One day I decided it had to go. It was a freeing moment. Maybe my first day of freedom since the day he died.
I stopped using drugs and booze around the time the mustache left. His was this cool, thin Boston Blackie mustache. Mine was a farce. It was big and bushy and itched all the time, even disrespectful to the 1980s porn stars who wore the same lip hair.
I’m twenty years older than he was when he died. If we met today I would be the elder and allegedly wiser from the years. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, especially me being the wiser. I just don’t see that.
Looking back at his ancient photos are looking back in time; a grainy black and white 4 by 4-inch portal, with a wavy white border. Not unlike viewing the world through a 12” black and white TV, with an array of vacuum tubes.
A simple time, an analog mechanical world.
Zip codes were new. He thought them unnecessary. His address was:
That seemed to work for him. Stuff showed up in the mailbox.
A lifelong Democrat, dad and my uncle Ben crossed over to the Republicans after hearing Eisenhower’s farewell address. It was a different Republican Party then.
When JFK was killed I remember my dad was sad. He told me, “Ike was right.” I was six and was not quite sure what a military-industrial complex was, but I knew it would be a problem…
He admired courage, a lot. As a six year old boy I ran away scared when a friend got stuck in deep quickmud in a swamp. That was the maddest I ever saw him. You don’t leave anyone hanging, ever.
We had a party line at our house in Silver Lake. Three families connected to one line. My sister and I used to pick up our phone and listen in on our neighbor’s calls. Knowledge, we knew even in 1963, was power.
An uncle, who worked for the telephone company in Jersey, gave him an old phone. We ran a wire and hooked it up—we had TWO phones in one house! It was the first big secret of my life.
“Don’t tell anyone we have an Illegal second phone!”
Yeah, dad was gangsta.
I remember turning wrenches and learning that a busted knuckle was something better laughed at than cried over.
I remember old Fords.
I’m not much on the whole heaven and hell thing, never have been, but where ever his spirit landed I hope there are ‘49 Shoebox Ford convertibles, red please; flatty V-8s, 6 volt generators and three on the tree.
He left me with five sage pieces of advice:
Don’t believe your own bullshit.
Never take anyone’s advice.
Change your oil.
Don’t ride the clutch.
Don’t run from a fight.