To Dads

This month, in honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share some of my favorite dad anecdotes from our life story projects over the years. Here’s to Dad: the ultimate storyteller and creator of many more.

*

This young man, pictured in 1935, went places in life.

My dad was a lamplighter, and he went around with a ladder and a bike. Winter, summer, rain, and snow—he had to make sure the lights were on in the morning. Some of them went on automatically but many were kerosene and he had to light them with a blowtorch.

*

My dad once told me, 'You should be ashamed of yourself. When I was your age, I was twice as old.'

*

My dad was a lawyer and in high school, I noticed my friends stopped coming by the house. They'd say, 'Your dad is a great guy, but every time I talk to him I feel like I'm on the witness stand.'

*

Long before our generation started doing so much with the kids, my father was doing it for us. I was in fourth grade and we were in the middle of a lesson when there was a knock on the door. It was my father, surprising me with two tickets to the Sox game. I'm not sure what excuse he gave the school, but I'm sure it was creative.

*

My old man bought me a set of encyclopedias when I was around 10. I still have them and read them all the time. He didn't read anything but the racing forms.

*

My dad was big on bargaining and negotiating. His motto was 'never pay retail.' I remember a cab ride with my father during my college years. The ride cost $8. My dad said to the driver, 'I'll give you $7 cash.' Cash was always the kicker. Though this didn't make sense, as cabs didn't even take credit cards back then.

*

My father was a devout and hard-working man. He walked the talk and was the real deal. You could set your clock by him. Every morning, he'd get up at the same time and make his lunch: butter and jam on some Vienna bread. Then he'd go to work at the factory all day, come home, and mow the lawn.

*


My father always wore a suit and hat and left for work early in the morning. At 16, he took me to his workplace: Swift Meatpacking at 47th and Halsted. He was a laborer and wore work clothes, but he wore a suit to and from work. It said everything about him.

*

In my day, if you could afford a bicycle, that was something. My father taught us how to ride it, but if you fell off, you had better not dent the bike.

*

My father was 1 of 15 children growing up during the Great Depression, and they had to grow their own food. My father was the oldest boy and the older siblings raised the youngest. On Mondays, the kids stayed home from school to do the wash.

*

I didn't know my father before his time in the war, but my aunt said it changed him. He carried a lot of stress. He got his pilot's license and flying was the one thing that leveled him off.

*

My father came in the door, hung up his hat, and would whistle. You knew he was home by the whistle.

*

My dad told me, 'I don't care if you become a lawyer. Just do something you're happy doing and do it well. You'll find there are many ways to make a living. I've never forgotten that."

*

One thing my dad taught me was to respect women. My sisters would smack me and then say, 'You can't hit us back. Dad will kill you!'

*

I have a lot of both of my parents in me, but I look a lot like my dad, and know all of his jokes, most of which are politically incorrect.

*

We kid about how good my father's fashion sense was--when he was a kid, he owned a light dinner jacket and a full tux, because you never know when you might need one.


Not old enough to drive but bought the Model T himself, 1945

I moved here and my parents stayed behind in Scotland. My dad sent me a letter a week for 30 years. The day he died was the saddest day of my life.

*

My father had a nice head of black hair and he'd be so busy combing and adding Brill cream to it, they'd be late for church.

*

I got my love for music, storytelling, and gardening from my dad. Every time I plant flowers, I think of him.

*

My father never saw his mother alive again after he left Ireland. He was supposed to go back with us in 1956, but he was worried that after a two-week trip, he wouldn't have a job to come back to--that's a lot of sacrifice.

*

My sister was going to a dance and came downstairs. My dad took one look at her and said, 'Where are you going after you change what you are wearing?'

*

My dad wanted us all to get a good college education, but it had to be Catholic, all-women, and far enough away that you couldn't come home on weekends.

*

My dad was wonderful. He used to tell me, 'We're going to go steppin.' That meant we were going to go out and really celebrate. He had great sights for me.


© 2020 Memoir for Me

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • White Twitter Icon