Today is Father’s Day. For me (with My son and daughter-in-law on the West Coast) this is a day celebrated with phone calls from the West Coast, and time alone with @Pinky379 and Cisco the Superdog.
When I went to my computer this morning, I noticed that Chris Griffith had written a post entitled “Happy Father’s day“. and that Jack Boardman had also written a post entitled “Remembering My Father”. Now Jack and I are pretty much contemporaries, so I related well to his post about his Dad. And I realized that I had been remiss. So here I go – Sorry for being so late to think of this Dad, but Blogging is still a New Toy to me.
My Dad was the son of immigrants who came to this country at the start of the last Century . They were proud of their new country , and he no less. The American Dream was the core to their daily struggle.
Born in South Philadelphia, my father’s childhood was like many of the movies you see where families live in close quarters, doing piece work for garment manufacturers, so that their children could have a better life. Here is the earliest clothed photo of my Dad, in Atlantic City New Jersey, posing with his Mom, Uncle Paul who recently passed away at age 95. The painted seashore scene behind them is a convention of the time, well prior to flickr and photoshop.
George moved with the family to Connecticut where my his father was a peddler, and with my grandmother, operated a small dry goods store. During his time there, Dad suffered from polio. After being a sickly child, he fought through, and survived, though his right leg would be forever slightly shorter then his left. The family would soon move back to Philadelphia though, losing their business and entering the almost decade long fight through the depression.
George’s teen years were spent in Philadelphia and Wilmington, when , as the oldest son he dropped out of High School to work and support the family. He would commute on the train to Wilmington Delaware everyday and work in one of the Nation’s first supermarkets until late evening, when he would return to Philadelphia, go to sleep and prepare for the same thing the next day. At the end of the week, the money would go to the family’s bills in an effort to keep up.
And keep up they did. George grew stronger after his bout with Polio, growing into a broad shouldered young man with little personal fear. And like all of pour parents, he had stories that weren’t related to the kids when they were growing up. For example, It seems that Dad had been hired by a local gangster, Bobo Hoff to ride “shotgun” on his liquor trucks during prohibition. George’s job was to ride in a car following the trucks, and in case they were attacked or a hijack was attempted, to jump out and defend the truck. George’s career was cut short by the one figure more intimidating than any gangster…his mother Anna
When World War II came around, George was $F because of his experience with Pilio, so he worked at the Brooklyn Naval Yard while his two younger brothers went off to War. It was during this time that he found his love and married her.
The War ended, (as we hope they always will and the job of building a family began. With little formal education, the best opportunities were in sales. And as a result, Dad was a salesperson for most of his life, first selling insurance and then real estate. His ability to think quickly and to articulate clearly enabled him to “fit in” with any group or individual. A fastidious dresser, Dad wore clothes well, and was always fashionable (to the extent his finances would allow…or maybe a little more)
Dad was fascinated with the world of art and studied it whenever he could. A natural talent, he could draw or paint With a wonderful skill that was passed on to his daughter. A hobby of his was collecting old prints paintings and engravings, and restoring both the pictures and their frames. For relaxation he would often water color the black and white engravings of 18th and 19th century books. On Sundays, we would often drive to Ambler, New Hope or Point Pleasant to look for old prints and books for him to work on. During the rides up and back we would talk and talk, and well before “quality time” was invented, I experienced it with my Dad.
The loss of his wife in 1961 left Dad with the job of being a single parent to a pre-teen boy and a teen age daughter, a challenge that few people would be prepared for. He met the challenge as best he could and we loved him for it. George loved children and had special relationships with hisgrand-daughter and many of his nieces and nephews. He introduced me to real estate when I left college, by getting me a job at a real estate company he worked for. And when I didn’t want to grow in the business, Dad pushed me to take my broker’s courses, telling me that “You ought to have the ticket – if you never use, you never use it, but you might want to have it one day” Because of him I became a broker in 1975
In 1976 we found out the Dad had lung cancer, even though he had quit smoking in 1974. In January of 1997 I became a Dad, and hegot to spend a little time with his grandson Hal. Here you see the only photo of my Dad and my son. But at least there’s one. Dad died in August of that year. He didn’t get to see me open my first office a few years later, thanks to the “ticket” he convinced me to get. He didn’t see us open our 2nd office, or grow to the 9 offices we have now. He missed his grandson growing up, doing well in school and becoming a fine young man. He even missed my son;s wedding last year, though he was present, when our son and daughter-in-law were married, using his prayer shawl as part of the marriage ceremony.
Today, of all days, I hope he knows that , if I am a good man, father and husband, it is because of the example he set for me. If I did well in business, it was because of what I learned from observing him. But in any case, I hope he knows that he is still loved and still remembered, and that no one who is loved and remembered is ever truly gone.
Happy Father’s Day Dad from all of us. And to all of you and your Dads as well. Treasure each other.