Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Father's Day is one of those minor holidays people don't really care about but celebrate anyway. You have to buy your father something  (a tie, deodorant, something for the garden) and your mother slaves over a hot oven and cooks a meal. Recently on the radio they were talking about what they learned from their fathers. I thought about it and came up with a few pointers I learned from the old man.

1) Working class Italian expressions: Hey gumba!  Capacole! Marone! "Gabbly gots" "Gots on gool". Well actually I picked up some of them from my summer job.

2) Gardening  My father liked to garden and I learned how to till soil, remove rocks from soil and how to garden. The secret of gardening is you have to water when you are tired and don't feel like doing it. Like having a dog, you have to take care of the thing even after the novelty has worn off.

3) How to avoid giving rides to people at work. I remember picking up my father with the Ford Falcon at his job in New York. He noticed one of the secretaries carrying a large plant. He grabbed me and brought me to the Audubon collection then we left after the coast was clear. My father was perceptive to the fact that his co-worker, carrying a large plant, could use a ride back to her home in Jersey City rather than having to deal with said plant on the subway and PATH train. He mentally added how long he would have to spend in Jersey City traffic if he was a nice guy and that is why he took up a sudden interest in Audubon. Learning to avoid giving rides home to people at work is something I became quite adept at over the years.  I stayed in an apartment in Watsessing for years in order to avoid moving closer to where the rest of the staff lived to avoid that task. Thanks, Dad.

4) Going to work when you don't feel like it. Watching your father trudge off to work every morning has a great impact on how dependable we will become in later life. People who's fathers ditch work will do the same when they have a job.

5) Learning that leadership involves negotiation. For a brief  period, my father was president of the Hackensack Democrat Club. 1968 was a divisive time for political parties. The New Democratic Coalition of Bergen County supported Eugene McCarthy for President and sat on their hands during the 1968 Presidential election that ultimately elected Richard Nixon.

The following spring some of the members decided to join the Hackensack Democratic Club. As a kid I got to listen to some of the phone calls the old man made. I remember he called people like Tony Andorra and said, "Well we've decided to let some of these young people join the Democratic Club but I thought it would be nice of some of the 'old timers' came to the meeting too." They would let the liberal wing in the club but he wanted a good showing among the old guard.

6) You should try to keep the family together even if it means visiting  sons and their new wives after they have eloped.

7) Men don't cook, do laundry, vacuum, shop at the grocery store, wash the kitchen sink or make beds.  Most men have had to change with time times on domestic chores but I still don't make my bed.

8) Don't spend more than you make. Driving an old car and not buying the latest gadgets may make you seem cheap but you'll be happier in the long run.

9) Driving a car. Most of us learn to drive from our fathers and that includes good as well as bad driving habits.

10) Picking up the check. Sadly, the oldest male at a table of relatives still has to pay for dinner. Among friends, the Dutch have great customs, ie. every man to himself.

Editor's note: My grandfather, father, and aunt.

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