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Sunday, June 16, 2013

DEAR OLD DAD


DEAR OLD DAD
 
 

“Dear Old Dad” is what we sometimes called my Pop.  It came from some old Hanna-Barbera cartoon, “Augie Doggie.”  That is ironic as my dad was not a cartoon kinda of guy.  It is not as if my dad was all serious and without a sense of humor, he actually did have a playful side, but he was just too smart for cartoon nonsense.

I often post about my mom,  not because dad was not interesting, it is just that mom had a Lucille Ball quality that makes her better post material.

My dad could do anything, he knew almost everything.  If he didn’t know something that interested him, he would buy a book and become an expert.  Dad was uber-smart.  He was so smart we would never ask for his help with homework because he saw everything, particularly math, through “genius eyes.”  He would explain things in a way that another genius would immediately understand, but an ordinary high school sophomore would be totally lost.

“Gee dad, that’s not how the teacher explained it.”

“The teacher is wrong!”

I am sure the teacher was wrong, but she had to teach in a way that ordinary humans would understand.   Anyway, you didn’t ask dad for help in math.

Dad was a Chemical Engineer by trade.  He chose that profession in a typical dad way.

When he was interviewing for admittance to college, Penn State, the Dean told him,

“Son we have to admit you because you graduated from high school and you are a Pennsylvania resident, but you will never graduate from this institution!”

Dad’s high school grades were not top notch as he had been ill for several years, and also, to him the courses were not challenging.

My father responded to the Dean with a question,

“Sir, what is the most difficult degree to earn at Penn State?”

“Chemical engineer is clearly our most challenging field of study.”

“And that,” my dad would recall, “is why I became a Chemical Engineer!”

My Dad did not go to war in 1940; he was instead part of a Government project where the countries best minds worked on top secret projects which would help end the war.  He never told us exactly what he did but I know it involved being very smart. 

For a few years Dad built boats as a hobby.  He designed and built fiberglass sailboats for his children to race.  They were the first unsinkable small craft ever built.  He built them years ahead of the famed “Boston Whaler.”

My father once commercially grew vegetables in a greenhouse through a process known as hydroponics.  This process is common today.  Plants are grown large and fast year round in a slurry of water and chemicals, no soil. It was a mostly a theoretical process when my dad did it.  He did this as a hobby, a profitable hobby, but it was a hobby.

Dad made his own light “dimmer” switches years before you could buy them at the hardware store.

My father dabbled in oil painting, and could have been quite good.  Dad played piano and banjo by ear, and then he learned to read music.  He was a skilled sailor.  Pop was  a licensed pilot and flew his own single engine airplane; he was certified to fly by instruments but was intelligent enough to avoid the need to test that ability. 

I have memories of my dad free diving for abalone and rock lobster when we lived in Southern California.  Dad was a top notch golfer until his back stiffened up a bit.  He taught me how to bowl when I was only seven.  When I played football in high school he filmed every game, using two 8mm cameras so he wouldn’t miss a play.  Dad was frugal, but we never went without, and he would help anyone who was in need.  He was a sucker for panhandlers.  He once told me when I asked him if a beggar he helped was really in need that, he figured it was a scam, but “Just in case.”

“Dear old Dad” could fix anything, from a broken motor to a broken heart.  He knew when to lecture, and when to back off.  I used to think he knew everything and could do anything.

I’m not so sure that I was wrong.

Happy Father’s Day everybody!

This Sunday's Stupid Headlines will be published Monday.

13 comments:

  1. Maybe we all have similar dads from way back when. When my dad retired they read something from his personnel file. A letter he wrote in 1943 to the president of Goodyear, demanding to be released from his war job of "turning farm boys into draftsmen" so he could go "fight this war!" Dad was an electrical engineer. The president of Goodyear wrote in red in the margin: Find out who this guy Lytle is.
    Happy Father's Day.

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  2. Nice tribute to your dad. Have a happy Father's Day yourself. ;)

    S

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  3. sounds like a remarkable man in many ways.

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  4. Wonderful tribute to your father! I am intrigued by what he did, all secretive and such. Fascinating! Your Dad and mine share some commonalities. I am convinced they do have superpowers. :)

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  5. Your dad was clearly a genius! This is a wonderful tribute to him!

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  6. Wow! What an amazing Dad, and what a hard act to follow, but I'll bet he inspired you to try your hardest at everything you did, and not to be defeated by what other people say. This was a wonderful tribute, your pride as this man's son shines through every word! Happy Father's Day to you too, I know your children and grandchildren are equally blessed by your presence in their lives!

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  7. I really enjoyed this tribute to your dad. It amazes me how skilled and talented some people were once upon a time. My dad always described himself and prided himself in being a jack of all trades, and he mastered them all. Sounds like yours was similar.

    Happy Father's Day to you Joe.

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  8. Gosh! Your dad was the original Chuck Norris! I like his statement about the math teacher.

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  9. Your dad sounds like a modern day Renaissance man. Remarkable. I hope you've had a wonderful Father's Day. Take care my friend.

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  10. Uncle Jim was a hero of mine (next to my dad of course) and I can vouch for his knowledge and intelligence! I remember building sailboats with your dad and brothers in Ocean City.
    You did not mention that your dad was an inventor and in high school invented a device that he wasted to patent. He went to Grandpa to ask him to finance his invention but was turned down. Grandpa was of little faith!
    By the time Uncle Jim managed to get the funds someone else had invented and patented a copy!

    His electric cigarette lighter for the car would have made him a lot of money!

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  11. Your dad was indeed a very smart guy; genius, I'll bet. You can thank him that he gave some of his smarts to you. :) But mostly, you can thank him for loving you and being present in your life.

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