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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Before I knew Him as Superman There Was Kryptonite

Before I knew Him as Superman There Was Kryptonite

Rick posted a picture of his Dad at a time that he preferred to remember above his last moments with him when he was ill.  It made me think, of the many memories of my Dad, what stands out the most?

How do you pick a moment with a man who meant so much and did so much for me?

Strangely enough, the moment I remember the most was barbecuing chicken one summer probably just a few years before he passed.  I think this moment stands out because though I could never feel as an equal with my Dad, he was getting older, I was no longer just a kid and we were able to loosen up and speak man to man for maybe the first time.

Helping to loosen us both up and speak on a different level from father and son were several gin and tonics.  Dad was not a big drinker, and neither was I yet.  Several G and T’s while flipping (and probably burning) chicken and I heard stories from my Dad’s past that he had never divulged before.

To me my Dad had always been a superman.  He was a chemical engineer, built fiberglass boats as a hobby, he owned and flew a plane, he was an expert sailor, skin diver, inventor, a good golfer and a great father; learning stories of his youth humanized him for me.

I learned how he and my Uncle Jack built a hydroplane boat with a large converted auto engine. 

“To fire it up we had to first pour gas directly into the carburetor.  It created quite a bang and a flash when it kicked over, but that was fairly common in those days.  The boat was fast as hell, but we made one small mistake.  We did not build it with a keel (a board or blade in running down the center of the boat that gives it traction on a turn).  When we tried to turn the flat bottomed hydroplane it just spun like a top and kept right on moving in the same line.  Damn near killed us both!”

Then there was the boat he and friends sailed in a race to Bermuda in the thirties.  They were so late in finishing that they were reported “lost at sea.” 

“When we brought in into the harbor everyone was very excited to see we were alive,  we could not figure out what all the excitement was about, we were never in danger, just very slow.  

One year later we were painting that boat and a scrapper went right through the hull, the dry rot was so severe.”

On another trip to Bermuda with my Uncle Tom he told me how they both had a bit too much to drink and ended up racing those little scooters up and down the airport runway. 

“The people in charge were not happy.  We were invited to leave and told we should probably never come back…damn and I loved that island!”
None of these stories were parts of a man’s life that you might brag about, but they did make Superman a little more human in my eyes.


  1. so very cool.

    (and i love gin and tonics, too.) :)

  2. Blogger ate my comment. Bugger.

    Looks like your dad knew how to have fun. It also appears that the limb didn't fall to far from the tree.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. Obviously you come from good stock.

    Great stories Joe!

  4. I think you summed it up really well that these stories made your dad seem more human. I think sometimes parents are afraid to tell their kids about some of their "adventures" afraid that the kids might follow in their foot steps with them, but also some of these things can confirm that parents are indeed just people just doing the best they can with what they have to work with.


  5. I think many parents don't realize those little things will be the things their children remember later in life. Even simple things like grilling. It gives our lives meaning because your father lives on through your memory.

  6. I loved the old stories. I think my kids will have to make up their own; too much in the here and now to want to know of the past.

  7. My Dad was older, and so was I, when he first began telling me stories about his younger days. It was fascinating and I wish I'd had more to hear more.

  8. How fortunate you are to have these stories from your dad. My dad seldom opened up. I think his childhood was just too painful.

  9. My father was the most generous (with his time, money & love) man I ever knew!!

  10. It's such a good thing to get these stories, and preserve them, they become part of the family lore.

  11. Wonderful memories you have to enjoy and relive. My dad was superman also, even when his warts became visible. There was just so much great in him that overshadowed a flaw here and there. Loved him and miss him.

  12. Wow! Banned from a whole island! Sounds like he lived life to the fullest.

  13. Your father sounds like a great person - good to have as a Dad and good to get to know as a person. My father was a serious and quiet, almost stern, man and I never had the chance to interact with him as a friend after I became an adult. Of course, being separated by several thousand miles and a big ocean also may have had something to do with it.

  14. That point where adult children and their parents can speak as equals, I never reached it. My mum was such a domineering person, she was the mum (boss) and that was that. The things I remember best about my dad was the freedom he allowed me, as long as I was home when the sun went down and the day he rode away on his rickety old man's bike and rode home on a shiny new small size girl's bicycle for me.

  15. It was only when I cleaned out mother's house for the last time that I saw her not just as my mom, but as a person like me, just living life and wanting it to be a happy one. Dad's things were still there, too, but his identity other than "daddy" had long faded away with his death 20 years previous.
    I like it when you write about your dad. Sounds like I'm not alone in having the stories trigger nice memories of my own!

  16. It's crazy how different you begin to see your parents, the older you get.