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On the Road With Dad

Last weekend I drove my eldest to New York City to visit a friend, and she was so appreciative, promising she'd make it up to me, that she'd even do that onerous weeding I'm always talking about. We spent hours on the open road, blasting the rock and roll, discussing the best Beatles songs and the finer points of Zep, talking about her life and friendships, where she might go to college someday, other trips we'd like to make, the whole wide world of possibilities out there.

And what I didn't tell her is that she didn't have to make it up to me.

That this is what a parent loves to do. That a road trip with a wonderful kid is as good as it gets. I hope she doesn't read this blog entry, because I still want to get her to do the weeding.

When I think of my own Dad I often think of the long drive from Florida to New Jersey when he took me to college. He said, in that rarely used This Is Important To Me voice, that he was glad he had lived long enough to do it. He correctly surmised that it would never be his fate to be an old man.

I wish he had lived long enough to know his grandkids. I can conjure him still, hear his voice, hear his laugh, but I wish the real deal would walk through the door one day and apologize for being away for so long. I could use his help.

He had the paternal gift of making bad problems suddenly vanish, or at least seem like no big deal. I'd call in some crisis, and by the time I hung up, the crisis was over. I'm not sure how he did it. He did not appeal to the gods but to reason and logic. He cited peer-reviewed research. He would tell me that my perceived infirmity was epidemiologically implausible.

He wasn't a conventional father (hah! -- don't get me started), but he was wise, could be handy with power tools and computer software, could fix a bike, not to mention make the most elaborate Thanksgiving spread you've ever seen (only to devour everything on his plate in 5 minutes). He was always full of surprises, always fun, and always a little hard to pin down -- his place of residence, not to mention marital status, changed more often than is the norm. When I was a kid, it seemed like he always lived someplace different every time I visited. He'd pick me up at the bus station and off we'd go, to some new apartment, or maybe to a houseboat docked in a marina. He may have gotten lost a few times over the course of his life. Or maybe I didn't always figure out the best way to find him. Maybe I could have searched harder.

But I know on that road trip long ago, barreling up the highway, we were both right where we wanted to be.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 16, 2006; 7:35 AM ET
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Road trips were the best when you could navigating for Dad in the co-pilot's seat of the RV, intently poring over the TripTik to shout out "Take this exit!"


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Important people, fathers.

Mine gave me only one piece of advice that I remember, but it was one that has made a huge difference:

Get along with people.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 8:32 AM | Report abuse

SCC: navigate for Dad


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I was always closer to my Mom, even if sometimes that just meant being able to argue more heatedly. But she died unexpectedly last year (young), and good ole Dad has been trying very hard to fill her shoes. Not easy to do in a large Italian family. So many people. But just the fact that he tries makes my heart swell with pride about him. God love the old man. May he find a new type of happiness in his golden years. And may he find a new happiness with each of his daughters (somehow, he always seemed to click with the sons so much easier).
My hat is off to all the dads who try so hard.
And thanks just made me remember a road trip to Ocean City when I was a young teenager, and how when I pointed to the roller coaster at the end of the boardwalk, he not only took me, but insisted on the front car. Put your hands up baby girl, and enjoy the ride. A lesson I just realized I live regularly.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 16, 2006 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick note to point you to something I put together last night to introduce you guys to my dad (a small part of who he is)...

Posted by: TBG | June 16, 2006 8:42 AM | Report abuse

My dad is visiting this weekend. I used to love spending time alone with him. Now I love watching him with my kids. He has a way of talking them into doing things like eating green stuff, cleaning up their rooms, etc. Funny how it never worked with me.

We once took a road trip in which we popped a tire and spun off the road. On our way to get the tire replaced, a pebble flicked off the road by a truck driving in the opposite direction blew out our windshield. And when we got back home, a broken pipe had flooded the dining room. We had a great time. Really.

Yesterday, after my daughter's graduation from preschool, my dad gave her a little wooden box with a lockand key. He explained it was a little box for her treasures. He gave this whole elaborate speech, and my daughter looked and nodded the whole time. Then she walked over to my mom and asked her to take off the earrings they had just given her so she could put them in the box. We had managed to be dry-eyed at the silly graduation, but that made us all cry.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Nice, TBG. Seeing your dad as a whole person before he was a dad makes it so much easier to hold dear the wonderful person he has always been, no?

Posted by: LostInThought | June 16, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Get out the tissue, it's another day of daddy memories. And Joel hits us on both sides of the generational divide. What it's like to be a dad and a son. Both jobs are rough. I made some remarks on a previous boodle that I will be expanding into a blogpost in time for Father's Day. If I can keep the tears from welling up today.

Great pictures, tbg. You are waaay too young to have a dad that served in WWII.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Nice story JA. Funny thing about Dads (and Moms) is you look back at the instructions they offered while growing up, instructions which normally bounced off our eardrums and into the mesosphere, and say, "wow, guess they were right after all". And they never grilled you on who you voted for; okay, asked maybe, but not grilled...

Posted by: farfrombeltway | June 16, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Yellojkt..can I go back to yesterday for just a moment? My youngest found much to laugh about re: dog/cow farts, and asked a good question. Do dogs burp? Not having pets, and spending most of our time in cities, I don't know. (But yet I think she has genius tendencies...where does she come up with this stuff? What goes on in that head?)
I seem to remember you have a dog. How to answer this inquisitive child?

Posted by: LostInThought | June 16, 2006 8:56 AM | Report abuse

TBG, thanks for sharing about your dad. My adopted grandfather here in the States served in the Pacific, too. He refuses to talk about it. I hope he changes his mind.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 8:57 AM | Report abuse

So, a Dad's Day blog. My dad is still here--will be 86 next month (Mom too). Up until the prostate cancer episode a few years ago he was in really good shape. Recently, the infirmities of old age have made their presence increasingly known. Now it's shingles. We're taking dinner up to them on Sunday. FWIW, they met and married while both were in the Army in WWII. Mom was a chaplians's assistant; Dad was an airplane engine mechanic-first on B-17's, later on P-38's. Towards the end of the war, the Army decided they were going to need spies during the Japanese invasion, so they sent him to school to learn spying and Japanese. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended any need, so they sent him back to base.

Posted by: ebtnut | June 16, 2006 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I have never heard my dog burp. He gets terrible breath if his teeth aren't brushed once a week and he occassioanlly vomits on the carpet (which is why my wife keeps talking me out of replacing it).

I am not a biologist or vet, so my case is purely anectdotal. Maybe we can get Molly Weingarten to guest boodle.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 9:05 AM | Report abuse

"Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles."
- Pat Paulsen

In light of yesterdays discussion I saw the above on my google quotes and found it appropriate.

Re My Dad, a subject I could go on at great length about. He taught me so much how to laugh no matter how difficult the situation, tolerance towards all people, to find answers for yourself not to expect others to do it for you, patience and the ability just to sit and enjoy the serenity of a sunrise/sunset, sound of the birds.

I had the pleasure to take road trips with him, to work with him, to endure difficult times with love and laughter.

My greatest tribute to him would be that when I married I married someone a great deal like him (faults and all).

I am lucky I know the value of fathers both from my dad (and mom as well) and from my husband they are truly a great gift.

To all fathers (or those who fill a fathers role) have a wonderful fathers day.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Dogs do in fact, burp. Usually when you are nose to nose with them having a stareing (sic) contest.

Posted by: 1st_timer | June 16, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to Joel, we have a place that reflects his own curiosity.

Somewhere, there is a DEVO song rolling around in my head that speaks of the world that would be without any intellectual curiosity. To hear Joel's story about his father, I now feel a bit better about myself.

I also think about my own father. As I mentioned yesterday, my father was a scientist and an educator. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, my parents had a cocktail party for a large group and amongst the guests was Linus Pauling, who I only knew as my friend Chris' grandfather.

Anyway, my father tried to make the point about how impressive it is to win 2 Nobel Prizes. Really what amazed me about meeting my father's friends and associates would be their unending curiousity about why things are the way that they are.

When you listen to someone speak passionately about almost any subject, it automatically becomes interesting. Also, these people would ALWAYS ask what YOU think about the topic. This was true, even if you were a little tyke, just to get your take. I was lucky to be surrounded with botanists and geologists and vulcanologists in a most beautiful place.

I thank my father for that amazing time.

Yesterday's blog just hit me that I see the world in stark contrast to how others see it. I too have lost my father, but remember his efforts to "adjust" the manner in which I spoke and communicate.

Like ScienceTim, he would just walk by my desk and look at what I was writing and just toss me the old family Webster's and shake his head. Alas, my dad has been replaced by Microsoft. Luckily, I can still revolt against humanity by mixing up their with there and get away with it.

I remember my father pointing out people having a deep discussion where opinions varied and saying "Mickey, did you hear him say 'That very well may be so,' ... try that and mean that because it very well may be so when you disagree about something"

I heard a bit of that thought process in Joel's convesation and I think from the posts, that it was misunderstood by many. That is why I like "this place." I like the porch. It is my current day cocktail party with people I seem to know and respect.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

1st, that would be the full belch, there.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 9:17 AM | Report abuse

JA should look at today's "Pearls Before Swine" strip...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 9:31 AM | Report abuse

DMichael, great post.

Yesterday I gave an end-of-year award to a student because I admire her intellectual curiosity. I overheard a couple of teachers criticizing me later because I gave an award to a poorly-behaved kid with bad grades. I hope the kid never changes. She'll go further than those two bitter old teachers, for sure.

My parents didn't entertain much when I was a kid, but my dad always brought up unusual topics at the dinner table. I had a friend who always teamed up with me for projects at school because she wanted to hear what my dad would talk about when we had dinner. Conversations would usually start with some story about what happened at the hospital, then it would spin off wildly into all sorts of crazy topics. Nothing was off-limits, and we never came to any conclusions.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Lost my own father many years ago. He
has been appearing to me in dreams with
less and less frequency (probably two or
three years since the last time), but then
I am fast getting as old as he was when I
knew him for real, and the world is so
different now (in good as well as bad

The brain is a wonderful thing. I read
somewhere that all human beings have a
crowd of shadowy half-personalities up
there and something like a social life with
them. The fingerprints (blessedly) left by
our parents surely form the most
important of those.

Posted by: Woofin | June 16, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Those conversations sound a lot like the Boodle, a bea c...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

a bea c, I hope my daughter is lucky enough to have a teacher in the future with your insight - she needs it.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Snuke, it was like Pastis anticipated our conversation yesterday! LOL...

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

a bea c, I second dmd's sentiments!

From the parents' point of view, we absolutely love you teachers who grab the kid in the back of the room and recognize what is lurking within.

My daughter's art teachers are pretty much the same as you in your approach. I was overwhelmed by her painting instructor's explanation of her talent even though she is an underachiever. It meant so much to me along with the commitment for next year and his appreciation that I was working the homefront as best as I could.

We parents are often so lucky. Thanks, a bea c!!!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Scotty. That's what i thought the first time I visited. I'd been reading the Kit for a long time before I ventured into the Boodle. What a treasure! I think my dad would enojoy it, too. He just needs to get over his fear of communicating in English.

Dmd, just keep reminding your daughter that grades are on paper, but values, morals, and knowledge are all inside of her for life. Grades are often a reflection of the teacher, not the student. That keeps me up at night more than global warming.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Yah, I can vouch for the doggy burps, too.

1_st timer, those are best served after they've been out in the back yard eating poo.

Since my own dad scampered off close to 40 years ago, I don't really have any significant memories of him.

Being a father of three myself, I can say that I understand him less each day.

Sometimes parenthood is the bigger things, like the college drop-off or scholastic awards but sometimes it's the little stuff, like the 6 year old reading books to me, the 11-year old making eye contact and arching an eyebrow in over some ill-conceived public statement, or the 14-year old making a very witty PG-13 joke *sotto voce* in a theater.

Thanks for the link, TBG.

My father's day will be getting off to a nice start as our family is going to the beach for a week, starting this evening.


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

woofin, what I tight little post!

I had one of those dreams last week. It was almost like my father appeared to profer advice. It was almost like my mind summoned it up because of my own concerns. It was eerie, somewhat Holodeck'y... It woke me up.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

BC, have a fun weekend.

The "littel things" reminded me of this morning's conversation with my son. This Tuesday I picked up my kids on my way to my polling place so they could see me vote. As a relatively new citizen, I still get all jittery and excited when I wake up on any election day, boring primary included. Before voting, I let my 5-yr-old read the ballot to her 3-yr-old brother, and tried to explain what we were doing. They had a hard time concentrating on the process since we were at the elementary school where my daughter will attend next September. This morning, my son was sitting on the counter in the bathroom while I combed his hair. He heard the word "government" on the radio, and asked what that was. I said the government is the group of people who takes care of the country. He thought about it for a few seconds, then said "The government is at Woolridge Elementary, right mommy? We saw them when we went to the library to vote."

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

bc, when your child says to you the first time "Dad, I want to make it clear that I am laughing AT you NOT WITH you."

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Holodecky is hereby nominated for Adjective of the day.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The Pearls Before Swine link:

Posted by: kbertocci | June 16, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

So, where's Francis Xavier Yubero, M.D and getbackjojo? They don't like us anymore?

Posted by: CowTown | June 16, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Fathers ain't political, CT...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely, we need a quiet, happy day to ourselves after yesterday!

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 10:32 AM | Report abuse

DM, I need them to notify me of the rare instances when they *are* laughing with me, rather than *at*.

Part of the job of Dad in a House 'O Estrogen (wife, three daughters, 2 female dogs, 2 female cats) is that the jobs of King and Court Jester are combined.

It's in the part of the job description under "Other Duties as Assigned".

Interestingly, the parts about shoveling the dog poop in the back yard and cleaning out the litterboxes are spelled out very clearly in their own sections under "Waste Removal".

Sometimes Dadhood is all about the poop.

But let's not get back into yesterdays' Boodle (Don't think I wasn't thinking about it when I was shoveling the back yard yesterday evening, though).


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke: Good thing, huh?

My father passed on almost three years ago at age 86. I don't know if he knew how proud of him I was, but he knew he was loved by all his family. I can still awe my friends with Dad's war stories and stories of our travels. Today will be a good day for me to sit back and read the posts of my fellow Boodlers and share their memories.

Posted by: CowTown | June 16, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "Part of the job of Dad in a House 'O Estrogen (wife, three daughters, 2 female dogs, 2 female cats) is that the duties of King and Court Jester are combined."

It's in the job description under "Other Duties as Assigned".



Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Joels story did remind me of one particular road trip I took with my dad. When I was about 15 Dad and I drove my Grandfather to my Aunts in Mass. Its about an 8 hour drive from where we live. It was in October (Thanksgiving Weekend here). My grandfather was approaching 90 at the time and until that point had lived alone happily and very independantly but some strokes stopped that.

I remember Grandpa enjoying my dads car, a big old Lincoln Town car, Grandpa referred to it as floating down the road. Unfortunately most of the trip we were not able to enjoy the beautiful fall colours as it poured rain, making visibility difficult and later that was reduced further by fog.

My dad patiently followed a transport as long as he could using the trucks lights as his guide. I am sure it was a long stressful drive in poor weather conditions but he continued calmly, we chatted through out the drive and Grandpa would dose off, only to wake up abruptly and shout out something.

I am pretty sure when we got to my aunts Dad had a big long drink. In the end it was a fabulous weekend in Massachuesetts, good weather and a special time with my Dad.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

DM, GetbackJoJo just posted something in yesterday's boodle to you. Maybe if we're really, really quiet he won't hear us over here.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

slyness, I just had a mental image of Elmer Fudd hunting wabbits with your 10:44 post. :)

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 10:45 AM | Report abuse


You're most welcome. Amazing how little response that got, hm?


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Oh, slyness, I assume he is suggesting that I don't understand economics. Unfortunately, I had to do something in school before I used up my eligibility.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

re: woofin's tight post

maybe woofin can post italics too...

Posted by: farfrombeltway | June 16, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Oh, my pa-pa, to me he is so wonderful.
Oh, my pa-pa, to me he is so good.
No one could be, so gentle and so lovable.
Oh, my pa-pa, he always understood.
Gone are the days when he
could take me on his knee and with a smile he'd change my tears to laughter.
Oh, my pa-pa, so funny, so adorable,
always the clown so funny in his way. "

My dad used to buy a half pound of Smarties (think M&M's only better) whenever we went on our trips to the city. He'd shake the bag and ask us if we wanted smarter pills. He is also the same guy who used to pick up rabbit turds, and put them in a match box, and then shake the box and ask us the same question. Of course he never let us fall for it. But he asked.

He was the leader of the evening raids on the freezer's cookie supply. It was pretty important having him on your side for this, because he knew where mom hid the key, AND he could reach it. He was the guy who kept a straight face, and almost was able to scold the teenagers when my youngest sister, then aged 3, was peering across the table, and announced in a very peeved voice, 'Oh, s**t, there's no more sausages'. Dad left the table for a while but when he came back, his eyes were red, and he could not stop smiling.

As a rather cranky 4 year old who was not willing to try sauerkraut, he told me to put sugar on it, and then try it. So I did. I jumped off my chair, and then pounded my tiny fists on his back. He laughed so hard he cried and even now 45 years later, bugs me about sweet kraut.

He took pictures of us when we got really upset over something silly. Like the evening it was 40 below, and I wanted to go out to the barn to do chores with him. Evening chores were not barn chores, but mostly the corral chores, and not at all something I could do. I tried to put my coat and hat on, and the picture is me sitting on the floor against the flour bin, bawling my tiny eyes out. There is another one where he cornered me on the bed, and by the look in my eyes, I am spitting steel at him. And then there was the time... Let's just say there are more photos of me being mad as a young child. Without fail, he always made you laugh in the end, because he just bugged you out of the grumps. He has pictures of all of us.

We spent a lot of time in the shop with him while he fixed cars, tractors and whatever else needed fixings. He is a wonder with tools and innovations. There was always something to tinker with till it was better. He built the house I grew up in, and I remember him looking over the pile of 2 x 4 seconds looking for the straight ones. He let me stand by his side as he drew up the floorplan for it, and answered my endless questions on houses and building. He put the stairs and the doors in the house, the day we moved into the basement, and worked on the house till it was mostly finished about a year later. He set up the temporary honeypot with its metal seat up right beside the furnace to take advantage of the venting, and on bath day, set up the washtub nearby with the stern warning that we not touch anything when we were wet. Some of us don't listen so well as the next fellow and I can only tell you how hard my dad laughed as I discovered the conductive properties of metal toilet seats all by my little old self.

He still tinkers and builds and makes better today. He makes furniture and cabinetry for the people of his condo now, and he builds and fixes for his kids too. He takes great joy in taking a piece of wood and making something beautiful.

He convinced his daughters, as new teenage drivers, that if you did not bring your car to him when your mileage hit 5000 km's from your last oil change, that car would die immediately and your new license would wither up and be useless. To this day, when I see the 5's come up, I change my oil, or at the very least, I worry about till I do.

He let us go out in the barn pasture 'forest' and go looking for wild honeysuckles (hoary pucoon) when we were just 3 and 4 years old, so long as we stuck to the cow paths. He let us go off the path to see the frogs eggs, and the tadpoles so long as he was with us. And when the brush pile needed burning, he made sure to do it late at night and had hotdogs, hot chocolate and marshmallows to celebrate. He was the one who would take us annually to scout for the first crocus of spring.

My dad was big on Sunday drives, around the countryside. We explored cemeteries, and old churches, walked hills by the river. We went to historic places like Batoche to walk in the footsteps of Louis Riel, the stuffed animal place in PA, to the Western Development Museum in North Battleford, just to see Mr. Pott's truck.

He bought an old Encyclopedia Britannica when the beef prices were low and the grain prices lower, so we could read and study it. He made sure there was always something around to read, atlases, condensed books, Popular Science, National Geographic.

He seriously warped our sense of humour, he led us down all kinds of proverbial garden paths, he toyed with our gullibility and made us learn to laugh at ourselves. He insisted we look at the small miracles right there in our backyard, all the while preparing us for something more. My dad gave us roots, and wings.

I could not have asked for more.

Posted by: dr | June 16, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

abc, I'm so glad to hear you took your kids with you to go vote! As far back as I can remember my parents would take me with them to the polls and would let me put the ballot in the scan-tron machine. They would also take me with them to various political and union events, as well as on the campaign trail (other candidates, we've never run for office, liking behind the scenes a bit better).

On my 18th birthday, we stopped at the county election board so that I could register to vote. When we walked in the door there were a dozen yellow roses waiting for me on the counter (yellow was the color of the suffragettes).

All this to say kudos to you. You are on the right track to raising kids that will be active citizens. And we need as many of them as possible.

Posted by: TulsaFan | June 16, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Beautiful dr

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

dr, that was truly poetic. And beautiful.

Today's going to be full of tears...

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 11:01 AM | Report abuse

'Midst laurels stood dr...

And 'midst-est laurels stood dr's dad.


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

scottynuke, too right.

a_bea_c, good for you. Here's to making an award that hopefully will be a positive 'tipping point' in a young life.

TBG, I loved those photos.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

You know, on my father, and I am sure that others have had similar experiences... you've already mentioned them this morning... just about when it became clear that my father was suffering a bit of lost memory, I revisited many portions of his experience.

I regret that I didn't record it, but I am sure that others faced this situation, especially if you are about my age (50's).

There were parts of his military experiences of which he never spoke. He, of course, tried to enlist to fly planes, but the Army decided he would be better at riding around in them. It was the nation's war and everyone was in the military and he ended up in intelligence...

Being 1st generation and also a scientist, he spoke Polish, Russian, French, and some Spanish, while "catching the drift" on other languages. He was usually posted near operations and would be involved in censoring mail and communications.

When we finally went back to sit and talk about the experiences that he remembered most, he said that he had never talked to me about one aspect. He said that it did bring back the pain, but he went ahead and discussed his most shocking task. Officers like my dad were flown around and dropped into the German concentration camps as they were reached. It was his job to sort out the mess and what was left of those poor souls.

I am glad that I finally got him to let me know about experience. I carry that vivid memory that was burned into his brain--clearly explained even 55 years later.

At an impromptu reunion this week, I found out that the mother of one of good friends back in high school was a concentration camp survivor. We are just so lucky when people make it through such horrid times.

It makes one wonder if it is the remoteness of what we are doing in the Middle East that we fail to see the we can do some harm to people's lives. There has to be a cost to collateral damage.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Wow, nice, dr.


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

There were no road trips or meaningful conversations with my father because he wasn't much of a talker. But I've had those kinds of conversations (spontaneous, out of the blue) with my g-girls, most often at my kitchen table. I treasure those moments and have a feeling they will too, in time.

Daddy smelled of Ivory soap, Old Spice shaving cream, freshly ironed shirts, serge, and tobacco. I adored him. He didn't kiss or hug or say mushy sentiments. But he made me feel safe and he taught me how to fly a kite, ride a bike, and throw a baseball overhand like a guy. My teenage girlfriends gushed over his good looks. (He just looked like a daddy to me.)

I was 24 The Day Daddy Said I Love You. Mr. Nani was working, so Dad was driving me to a dentist appt. We were in heavy traffic on Navarro Street, headed for the Smith Young Tower in downtown San Antonio. It was strangely and eerily quiet. And hot, very hot. There were cracks of lightning and blinding flashes of light. Then hailstones the size of golf balls came crashing down. Traffic stopped. We sat there in silence waiting for the storm to pass. Dad turned to me and said "You know that I love you, don't you?"

Posted by: Nani | June 16, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Nani, that's great. You know I feel that in all your posts.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Nani, with a little editing off the front, you have a perfect children's story here (or another Autobiography as Haiku): 'Dad was driving me to a dentist appt. We were in heavy traffic on Navarro Street, headed for the Smith Young Tower in downtown San Antonio. It was strangely and eerily quiet. And hot, very hot. There were cracks of lightning and blinding flashes of light. Then hailstones the size of golf balls came crashing down. Traffic stopped. We sat there in silence waiting for the storm to pass. Dad turned to me and said "You know that I love you, don't you?"'

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 16, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

My Dad and my sister and I lay down on the living room rug. He had his head on a pillow, we had our heads on his stomach, a kid sticking out to the left, a kid sticking out to the right. How old we were, I don't know. Where was my Mom? I don't know. Was my sister really there, or do I just think she should have been? I don't know. We had a big bowl of salad from The Working Man's Friend, that we ate with our hands -- lettuce, cheese, carrot slivers, cherry tomatoes, radishes. No dressing. We left the lights dark as the sun set and the light faded. On the radio, Martians in giant tripod walking machines strode over the countryside of New Jersey, zapping police cars and tanks, on the way to New York City. I shifted, so I could fall asleep next to Dad. It was years before I learned that the Martians lost and humanity survived. When I awoke, it was dark. The Martians were gone, and Dad put me to bed.

PS: No, I don't claim to have been there in 1939. It was a rebroadcast, that Dad had been anticipating for ages.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 16, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse

nani, that was absolutely beautiful. So perfect for Father's Day.

Posted by: TulsaFan | June 16, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Nani, I liked it the way you wrote it, and every detail. StorytellerTim, back me up here.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Nani, I liked your story the way you told it, your description of your fathers smell is so wonderful. I have a similar memory of my Dad telling me he loved me, (not that I had to ever guess how he felt), he just didn't verbalize it very often.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, I loved it just the way that Nani wrote it. The only reason I suggested any editing at all (I forgot to change hats for my previous posting) was that it makes it a little more universal if you take away the references to her particular age and gender. Take away the reference to Mr. Nani, and the narrator could be any age, and either gender. Whatever gender and whatever age the reader needs it to be. The story is just as true, regardless.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | June 16, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Great Dad posts.

My dad still won't say "I love you". If my mom asks, he says sure. We kids have never asked. We know. We don't say it, either. He knows.

OK, the school is now deserted. The lockers are empty, and I've taken down the last of my posters from the wall. One final faculty meeting in two minutes, and then, twelve weeks of reading. Ahhh.

Have a wonderful afternoon.

Posted by: a bea c | June 16, 2006 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate what StTim was saying. I took his post to be a large compiment. He was saying that he could turn it into a universal story for all. I didn't hear a critical tone at all. Since we know Nani, we can quite easily hear it in her writing voice.

All I know is that when a musician or story teller borrows something, it is only done because they love it, themselves.

I think Tim was just creating "out loud."

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:00 PM | Report abuse

*kinda sorta jealous of a bea c, but fully realizing those 12 weeks are very hard-earned*


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Editor, Editor!!! Let me say crafting as a storyteller... Nani created.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I did not mean my comments to be at all critical of Tim, I greatly enjoy his writing and his thoughts. I just wanted Nani to know how much I enjoyed her post and for myself her description of her dads smell registered with me.

On a different note, after my Grandpa died my Dad and I had the task to go through his papers. He was a man that quite literally threw away very little, decades of cheque stubs, details of how much was spent on groceries. But more importantly he kept all his correspondence from friends, children, grandchildren. He had journals. I was too young to really get to know the man, but I was able to glimpse his life through those papers.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

When I was about 10, we all went fishing one summer weekend. We had been fishing before, mostly from shore, and I thought I was getting pretty good at it and even had my own tackle box. I was quite the Authority in the house on which type of hook might be best for certain conditions.

Anyway, we were at this quiet river, and after a little while I became convinced that the weedy area on the far side was undoubtedly where all the fish were. So I wound up for the cast to end all casts and let 'er rip. Unfortunately for Dad, standing about 20 feet to my right, my release timing still needed a lot of work and the hook caught him in the left ear lobe, barb and all. I think it took Mom about 15 minutes to get it out.

I'm not quite sure why this story came back after reading everyone's stories, but I think it was the fact that he never mentioned the incident again - not "don't do that again", not "that really hurt", not even "watch out - he's about to cast". My little ego stayed intact.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Aw, waitaminit!!!

*putting on shop steward hat*

Gold stars to everyone for their indoor voices and apologies given even in the face of no umbrage taken!

I think I'm gettin' the hang of this...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 12:12 PM | Report abuse

To Tims of all shapes and sizes: no criticism intended!

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Funny. Just this morning was thinking of driving cross country with my parents in 1960. West of Chicago there were no federal highways, just white asphalt state roads with two lanes (at most) going each way, and the weeds high in between and on either side of the two streams of traffic. The T.V.'s in the motels out in the heartland picked up just one station--one of the networks. At a rest stop on the Turnpike in Ohio an electric eye started the hand dryer blowing hot air: never saw anything like that before. To have cold water to drink we hung a "desert bag" from the outside rear view mirror, and the wind whipping over it kept it cool. When we passed trucks going the other way, the updraft they caused made the bag flap up off the car side. Flat and windy Kansas, the first sight of the rockies while driving West in Kansas, Mesa Verde, L.A., watching on T.V. the Democratic Presidential convention that nominated JFK, and the Grand Tetons, where my father's back gave out from all the driving--those are some of the things I remember from that trip in 1960.

Posted by: Traveller | June 16, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

You guys take any classes in lit crit?

Nani's story could be converted into a children's story, sure, but the power of the tale is not that her dad told her he loved her in a rain and hail storm, but that he waited until she was 24, a red-letter--or capital letter--day for her.

She was already married, an adult woman, by all measures. The storm is the backdrop. Smells-sounds--emotion. Leave the story alone, for %&*)@!!!.

Some dads are emotionally constipated, for whatever reasons.

Posted by: Loomis | June 16, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, catch and release!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Who took the umbrage last? If so, please return it to its ritghtful place so it can be taken again when needed. SHeeesh!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Just one last thought, if you think all dads fit neatly into some Hallmark card scenario, you are sadly mistaken.

Posted by: Loomis | June 16, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, dads don't have the corner in emotional constipation.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I think that's why I enjoyed Joel's kit this morning. For exactly that reason. His remembrances were Hallmark, but the situation didn't seem to be. Good point, by you.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Your motion is seconded LindaLoo. Mr. Steward please note our dissent.
On a different topic, Argentina creamed Serbia-Montenegro (soon to be two different teams) 6-nil.
Ha ! to the low bidders on the total score.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 16, 2006 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, my Dad was married 6 times and I'm not sure Hallmark has a card for the 6th. I think they only go up to 5.

I do know I loved my Dad and all his eccentricities. The fact that he walked around buck naked definitely struck me as different from most Dads. He was an unapologetic nudist. Even when friends were in the house, he was always padding around to the kitchen to get coffee in his birthday suit. Shameless. But a lot of fun!

I think it's a lot easier to be a good Dad today. Per Nani's story, fathers in the past may have been forced by various cultural and economic reasons to be less emotional, more stoic -- but perhaps it's not worth deconstructing a perfect little story. Like ruining a joke by trying to explain it.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 16, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

SD, according to the terms of dissolution, Montenegro must take two of those six points scored against that team.

You would think with all these professional kickers they could have converted the touchdown.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

haha, SonofCarl. By my math we're up to 158 total points by the end of this World Cup, up 18 points from Wednesdays estimate.

And remember guys and gals, it was I who predicted 175, while the rest of you (or at least most of you) predicted zero...

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Well at least the Oilers are still in it, Shrieking.

And Nani, that was wonderful. You should write these all down so your Grandchiildren can share. But I too see a classic story in it. Perhaps 2 versions are called for.

Some wonderful memories here.

Posted by: dr | June 16, 2006 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I notice the Italy vs. United States game will be on ABC here in DC. Cool, I get to watch a game. I'll be waving a little flag whilst drinking budweiser (the amurrican brand) and an occasional shot of Jim Beam.

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

As a father of three I try to be more communicative than my own father was but it ain't easy when you had a poor model. Working on it like everything else.

BTW it's 2-1 for the Orange Crush against Les Élephants, in the first half.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 16, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Joel, did you take the umbrage? We can't find it. Maybe Mudge packed it.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

My dad smells like a mixture of Vitalis and Lilac Vegetal. Even though he's still around and lives nearby, my kids still like to open bottles of Vitalis in the drugstore and take a deep breath.

Ahhhh.... it smells like Papou, they say.

I always say that some men are made better men by having only daughters. Joel, bc... would you agree? My dad certainly was. Four daughters to the oldest son of the oldest son. My grandfather told him, "Better luck next time," the day my oldest sister was born and my father understood at that moment that he had been actually blessed, not cursed, to have a baby girl.

Now he's got four women who would do anything for him. But he doesn't ask and that's the nicest part. Oh yeah... he asks for help when he needs something specific, and we do our best to go running when we're needed, but he lives independently in a retirement apartment building and has made so many friends in the two years since my mom died.

I echo LostinThought's sentiment: But just the fact that he tries makes my heart swell with pride about him. He's become a real hero to my kids to see how he's adapted to a life that in a million years he never imagined... life without his soul mate.

He's living just the way he always raised us to live: whatever you're handed is the best hand you've got. Work with it. Live with it. Enjoy it. Take it and run with it.

Posted by: TBG | June 16, 2006 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The boodle may just be fresh out of umbrage, an awful lot was taken yesterday.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 16, 2006 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Shrieking, that fact that you are trying is a great role model to your children.

For the World Cup ignorant (Orange Crush? Les Elephants?)

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Linda, you know the one thing I have always wished? I wished every kid could have had a dad like mine. A mom too for that matter. So many, many don't and I know how rich I am in them.

At the same time, midst all the goofing around, the silliness, and laughter, the adventures we had with dad, he has never once said I loved you to this day. It never mattered much because we knew.

Posted by: dr | June 16, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you all for the nice words. And I love all the stories about Dads. What a great day for reading. Oh, I didn't think Storyteller Tim was being critical. He never criticizes anyone. He might disagree with someone or take umbrage with a rude poster now and then.

Last night Rashomon (best foreign film of 1951) was on TCM. It is a stunning film, visually and emotionally. And very very different from American films of the 50s. I wish Mudge or kurosawaguy were here to critique it.

Posted by: Nani | June 16, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

My dad, who was divorced from my mother, was going to take me to college. A father/daughter road trip of epic proportions, from southern California to Berkeley. I was really excited. He came over in his pickup truck with the covered back, and we packed in all my things. We started off, and drove over to his lady friend's house. And she got in. Jeezy peezy, as saith the great Mudge!

"I didn't want to drive back by myself," he explained.

So much for father/daughter bonding. I rode most of the way in the back of the truck.

(Not in keeping with the tone of the Boodle, but was the first thing that came to mind when I read the Kit. Memories!)

Posted by: nellie | June 16, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I got an early Father's Day present yesterday from my soon-to-be 13-year-old daughter when she actually sat in the front seat with me when we were driving to Border's. Sometime in the last few months it somehow became cool for her to sit in the back.

I bought The Grand Idea, by the way. So far, I'm like the way the Achenbach guy is telling the story.

Posted by: kindathinker | June 16, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I like Nani's story (love Nani's story), knowing it's an event from age 24. I'd just like to see Our Nani share what she has with a wider audience. I'm pushy that way, I'm afraid, and I feel like Nani has a lot to say that more people need to hear. As far as going for children's publishing, my thinking is that there aren't many venues for extremely short vignettes like Nani wrote. Children's publishing concentrates on the very short form, and Nani's subject matter went straight to the heart of concerns that everyone has, but it's especially powerful in the tween-to-teen years. It probably would be accepted in that market just as Nani wrote it in the first place. I was just trying to give Nani another little shove towards seeking wider distribution.

There was a lot that was encapsulated in that little moment that Nani shared with us. I see now that what we got out of it varied, depending on the reader's reference frame. I connected with the fact that Nani's father was saying something that did not come easily into words for him, but I didn't see that as a defect on his part. It can take a long time to say plainly something that you think you've been shouting nonverbally. To me, the storm was more than a backdrop, it was a catalyst. It created a necessary and unique moment.

Nani, isn't it fun to be discussed in the third person?

Posted by: StorytellerTim | June 16, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

thanks Joel for sharing that... my dad was also very close to my heart and my life has never been the same since I lost him five years ago. I always like to do something spontaneous on his birthday which is New Years' Day. This year I snowshoed in my bikini... he would have been delighted :) I'll never forget that first birthday of his without him, I went to Australia and rode horseback with friends in the bush and saw wild kangaroos for the first time. Wondering what I'll do for 2007---maybe a polar bear dip!

Posted by: MIss Toronto | June 16, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I only just went back and saw JA's admonition against deconstructing Nan's perfect story. Sorry.

I do so disagree with people! I'm disagreeing right now. See, here's me doing it. It's just that I try to avoid being disagreeable when I'm disagreeing. That ScienceTim guy, on the other hand -- what an @$$!

Posted by: StorytellerTim | June 16, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

hey nellie,
your story IS very important. It seems that you were a bit sad about it but it serves as a very very good lesson for us parents. I am part of a divorced couple that keeps our relationship private from the families. Our kids time with us is as often as possible and one-to-one. It may seem severe, but it also is the easiest to make work with the kids. It seems fairest to them. I know that this seems odd, but divorce is not an easy situation to manage with kids of any age.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I had one of those road trips with my son this spring break. We had a blast on the road together for five days.

My reward? When we were about an hour from home on Day 5, I said, "I could keep going for weeks." He said, "Me, too."

Posted by: TBG | June 16, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

(apropos of nothing said today)

Quoting Sting's "An Englishman in New York:"

It takes a man
To suffer ignorance and smile

Be yourself
No matter what they say


D'ya think if he'd written "A Spaniard in New York" he might have said:

It takes some flan
To suffer ignorance and smile


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I give up. I have to tell a father-son road trip story, Rule 6 or no Rule 6.

Back in the early 90s and about a month after my grandfather died, my grandmother decided to move to a condo in my father's complex in Florida. This necessitated a wholesale purging of the four bedroom colonial in Huntsville, Alabama they had lived in for the fifteen years since he retired from the Army. His kids, including my father picked a weekend and descended upon the house to divvy up the unneeded possessions. My father being VERY thrifty determined that renting a trailer from U-Haul as a local rental was cheaper than renting one-way.

My dad had previously taken possession of my grandfather's mint condition 1978 Cadillac and we drove from Tampa to Huntsville with the empty trailer in one day. We spent the weekend cleaning, sorting, and helping other relatives pack loot. My share of the booty was a dining room set that had a table and two leafs with six matching chairs. My brother laid claim to the sideboard, but I took possession of the china cabinet. We filled the trailer with my furniture, furniture for my grandmother's condo, and as many of her personal possessions that would fit.

The trailer was so heavy it was seriously pushing down on the rear of the car to the point the trailer hitch almost dragged. We left late in the afternoon hoping to drive through the night. Just south of Macon we got pulled over by a cop despite barely being able to reach 50 fully weighed down as we were. He asked us to not drive in the dark because our lights were blinding other cars. Unlike any other car I have ever driven, all the signal lights for the driver were mounted at the end of the hood, and I didn't realize the headlights were accidentally on high beams. Between the high beams and the trailer induced pitch of the car, we could probably have been seen from space.

We stopped for the night at the next exit and stayed in the cheapest truck stop motel my dad could find and continued at daybreak the next day. I have no memory of what we talked about during our 24 hours of transit, but it was the longest the two of us had ever been alone together. I do know we listened to a lot of country music.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

One of my earliest memories is a fishing trip with my dad. We drove to a lake, just the two of us, left my brother and sister and my mom at home. That was unusual, and exciting. I was very young, certainly not yet five--too young to do any serious fishing. I was just enjoying the outing, being by the water--until I slipped and fell in! My clothes were all wet and I was uncomfortable and I vividly remember thinking, "Now, what will we do--Mom's not here!" (I probably started crying at the thought of being away from her at that point.) Imagine my surprise when my dad reached into the car and produced clean clothes, got me dried off and made the world right again. Who knew Dad was so competent!

Posted by: kbertocci | June 16, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

TBG writes: "I always say that some men are made better men by having only daughters. Joel, bc... would you agree?"

I don't know. A *different* man, for sure.

I'm told I'm a pretty good Dad, so I'm going to go with that for the moment.


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Ah, boodle, i've missed ye.

I never got along with my father as a child, but as I age the more I realize how like him I am. And how much I owe to him; my mother "couldn't draw a straight line" as she tells it, but my father gave me his family's creative gifts and always encouraged them, despite telling me very firmly when I was about 8 or so that doing what I loved would never make a lot of money. I think I've figured out what he meant though, was not that I should give up what I love but that money wasn't everything, especially if I got to do something that made me happy. That, and a couple of years ago he spent every weekend between thanksgiving and christmas designing and building from scratch a very beautiful and versatile easel so i could have a proper work space as I shuffle from apartment to apartment. *sigh* my dad's the best.

now i'm gonna have to call him and thank him.

Posted by: LP | June 16, 2006 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"Between the high beams and the trailer induced pitch of the car, we could probably have been seen from space."


Why am I imagining an R. Crumb strip right now?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I occasionally come across safety clothes that I have stashed, kb.

I tried to never work without a net.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Have a great weekend folks!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 16, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Les Élephants are the Côte d'Ivoire team. Some of the most talented player (look at Drogba) in the tournaments are African but they just can't put a good team together. Countries are too small maybe, they would do better if they had West Africa, an East Africa and Southern Africa team I think. Orange Crush was the nickname of, in addition to the Denver Broncos front four of one era, the great Netherlands team of the late 70s. Their uniform in blinding orange. This wasn't that bad in the cotton days but all this orange polyester is just too much. Final score: 2-1. Côte d'I is out and the Kingdom of the Netherlands is in the last 16.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 16, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I have many fond fishing with my dad memories (my brother too). There's one story where I didn't actually go. Just as we were about to walk out the door I somehow managed to get my hook through about a quarter inch of my right index finger. My brother was not impressed as this would obviously delay our departure. So my dad retreats to the garage and retrieves a pair of plies with a wire cutter (the kind used for stripping electrical wire). He then said to me to hold still as this was not the best tool for doing this, but it was all he had. So I turned my head to look away, I felt a sharp tug, and another soft tug, and my dad said all done. I didn't cry. I didn't even squirm. Unfortunately I now had a queasy feeling in my belly and no longer had a desire to fish, so I stayed home and later went out to play in the neighborhood.

I was seven years old. Later that day when we were eating dinner (no, we didn't have fish) my dad told me how proud he was of me. Best dinner ever just about.

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse


but you knew that right

and when I said we didn't have fish for dinner I lied...we had fish sticks...the frozen kind

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

SD - funny trivia point. I read that the second time the Dutch held (now) New York it was called New Orange.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Father Son Road Trip Epilogue

We still have the dining room set. We inherited another china cabinet from my father-in-law which means one whole wall of our dining room is cabinet. We had the dining room chairs reupholstered about ten years ago, but they are starting to fall apart. One chair has a leg irreparably split and a few others are going. A few years ago I visited my brother's family and there was no sign of the matching sideboard anywhere. There was a lot of nice new shiny contemporary designed furniture in the dining room.

We had sold my wife's car to get out from under the loan when our son was born, so I took possession of the Cadillac. I loved the car radio which had mechanical station presets. Hit a button and a little motor whirred the tuner to the right place. My dad "traded" me a 1980 Datsun pick-up that my brother had owned in college for the Cadillac since my sister couldn't drive a stick. While in her posssession, this previously pristine Cadillac underwent a series of mysterious accidents and was eventually totaled.

So it goes.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

TBG and bc, I've heard that it's not that adults have children, it's that children make adults of their parents. I do feel sorry for people who don't want to have kids. They're missing the best part of life!

My family was different. My dad's first wife died in her early fifties and so when he found my mother, it was a classic May-December relationship. He was 56 and she 28 when they were married. My two half-brothers were a year older and a year younger than my mom; both were married and had kids when I was born.

My father skipped graduation at UNC-Chapel Hill in the spring of 1918 and enlisted in the Army. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the artillery at Ft. Lewis, Washington and had orders for France when the war ended in November. Before his time was up, his horse fell with him and he sustained a spinal injury that affected his legs for the rest of his life. In spite of his injury, he came home and worked his entire life as a reporter for the afternoon daily in Charlotte, covering City Hall.

His oldest son and namesake followed him into journalism and was actually his boss for a while. Unfortunately, my half brother died of lung cancer caused by smoking. He was 46, my father was 73, I was 15. We didn't have hospice and grief counseling then like we do now, so my dad's descent into alcoholism was something we had no idea how to handle. It was terribly sad and painful for all of us, especially my mother.

My dad taught me to be independent and to set and pursue my own goals, without being tied down by others' expectations. The family bonds were tested mightily during his last 12 years, but they never broke. I'm sure that's because he made them strong, and I will aways be grateful for that.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael,

Now I'm chuckling at the R. Crumb mental image. I'm sure the cop that pulled us over was expecting to nab a pair of hippy-haired freaks instead of a retired Air Force pilot and his son.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

For those with WWII dads -- and moms -- the Veterans History Project offers a great way to help dads open up and talk about some things you never heard. Both my dad and uncle recorded their WWII memories and it was amazing.

Posted by: yayama | June 16, 2006 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Thinking about Father's Day puts me in mind of John Hiatt's classic song, "Your Dad Did". My favorite parts include spirits, beef and a rodent.

"Well the sun comes up and you stare your cup of coffee
Right through the kitchen floor
You feel like hell so you might as well get out and sell
Your smart ass door to door
And the Mrs. wears her robe
slightly undone
As your daughter dumps her oatmeal
on your son
And you keep it hid
Just like your did

So you go to work
Just to watch some jerk
Pick up the perks
You were in line to get
And the guy that hired you
Just got fired
Your job's expired
They just ain't told you yet
So you go and buy a brand new set of wheels
To show your family just how great you feel
Acting like a kid
Just like your dad did

You're a chip off the old block
Why does it come as such a shock
That every road up which you rock
Your dad already did
Yeah you've seen the old man's ghost
Come back as creamed chipped beef on toast
Now if you dont get your slice of the roast
You're gonna flip your lid
Just like your dad did
Just like your dad did

Well the day was long now,
supper's on
The thrill is gone
But something's taking place
Yeah the food is cold
and your wife feels old
But all hands fold
As the two year old says grace
She says
Help the starving children to get well
But let my brother's hamster burn in hell!

You love your wife and kids
Just like your dad did
Just like your dad did."

- John Hiatt


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks SD I appreciate the explanation, I didn't think the Broncos played soccer as well, I was a huge NFL fan in my younger years and remember the Orange Crush well.

Try as I might I cannot find an interest in Soccer, not having a country to cheer for probably adds to that, and I am not holding my breath for the Canadian team to make a world cup.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Nani mentioned Rashomon, Kurosawa's movie presenting several different versions of the same terrible murder. The tales were told at the smashed-up city gate of Kyoto, at a time when the city was in ruins from civil war.

Kurosawa got into trouble because he went wildly over budget to build that impressively ruined gate. Lumber was expensive!

Kurosawa's last movie, Not Yet, is a leave-taking by a beloved professor. Regrettably, I missed the ending.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | June 16, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Yah, in that R. Crumb image, I imagine someone in the back seat yelling, "F- you, PIG!", with Dad's eyes as big as dinner plates, and the son in the passenger seat turned around and trying to cover the offending sibling's mouth.


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

>Quoting Sting's "An Englishman in New York:"

scottynuke, thanks for that. I was living in Little Italy when that came out, and used to see him once in awhile on the street.

I wish I could give a heartwarming story about my old man... He did teach me a good work ethic and a passion for craftsmanship.

A friends' father passed away last year, and he was telling me about all the Boy Scout meetings, and playing catch, and Little League and whatnot, and all I could say was "Wow. Mine didn't do any of that. Your father might be gone but at least you have all those memories."

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 16, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

What is sad, is that I have no memories of a good road trip. My dad never took care of his cars, so a trip usually meant that the car boiled. Usually at the top of a long, nasty switchback up a tall, nasty mountain. I spent what seems like three-fourths of my childhood either watching my dad slide down the side of a hill looking for a stream, or sitting in the "waiting area" of a small, remote garage staring at "Miss June" on the wall calendar.

Guess what happened on my honeymoon? We were going north to Palo Alto and the car boiled in the San Fernando Valley! What I felt was not déjà vu, it was fear.

Posted by: nellie | June 16, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

This is shaping up as the Best. Boodle. Ever. I don't even know where to start with the accolades. These stories are all incredibly touching, humorous, bitterseeet, or any combination of the above.

Snuke can look on this as the pinnacle of his temporary deputy shop stewardshiphood.

I gotta find that John Hiatt song. I'm so damn tired of "Cats In The Cradle" being used to shorthand father-son relationships when the real dynamics are so much more complicated and nuanced.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 2:45 PM | Report abuse

And who can forget Grandpa Simpson's wedding day advice to his son, Homer:

"If you ever go back in time, don't step on anything, because it will affect the future in ways you can't imagine"

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Actually, yellojkt, I find a lot of Hiatt's music of that period - "Bring the Family", "Stolen Moments", "Slow Turning", and "Perfectly Good Guitar" - has sweet, funny and sad songs about families.

I'm off to the beach. Have a great week, folks.


Posted by: bc | June 16, 2006 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I second yellojkt's nomination.

Posted by: omni | June 16, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Have a good time at the beach, bc! We'll miss you.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Have a great weekend everyone.

Posted by: dmd | June 16, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Have a good day all. Fathers among us should try to create great memories for the kids this weekend.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | June 16, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

*lookin' @ the clock*

Who said everyone could leave early??!?!?


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Happy Father's Day all. My dad & I never went on a road trip per se but all our family vacations in my childhood involved hundreds of miles of driving. Dad was not a let's-stop-and-see-this-roadside-attraction kind of guy; he did all the driving and pretty much stopped for gas and food. However, I had a terrible tendency to carsickness and whenever, in a tiny voice, I'd ask to stop, he always did. Immediately.

My dad only ever insisted on one thing -- that I learn to type. At the time I was mortally insulted by the implication that I'd be doing secretarial work. I quickly learned how wrong I was and have been thankful ever since. He died when I was in college and I've realized that almost every important lesson he taught me was unspoken: Find a job you love and enjoy what you do. Work hard. Be friendly, or at least civil, to everyone. Keep your word. Try to leave things better than you found them. Always leave room for silliness. Don't confuse nostalgia with desire (for example, see the cows at the fair and fondly remember the farm, but don't go buy a cow). Live within your means.
These are surprisingly easy lessons to live with, and I'm enjoying sharing them with my son.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 16, 2006 4:08 PM | Report abuse

My fondest wish for tomorrow is to go bicycling with the ScienceKids. One at a time because they get cranky if both are there together. ScienceKid #2 has turned out to be a much better natural cyclist than ScienceKid #1, therefore much faster and impatient. ScienceKid #2 and I will go out first, maybe tomorrow morning. ScienceKid #1 and I will take the same route in the afternoon, I think. We'll take water bottles and some apples. We'll ride to the marshy pond and look for ducks and animal tracks. We'll ride by the houses with big properties and horses and admire them and smell the road apples. It'll be good.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 16, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse


May the road be yours to enjoy on your own. Be safe.

And actually, I'm on my way out as well. Everyone have a great weekend!

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2006 4:26 PM | Report abuse

But, wait! I wanted to hear about getbackjojo's road trips with his daddy. C'mon. Just one.

Posted by: CowTown | June 16, 2006 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Happy Father's Day Joel and all caboodle daddies. ScienceTim, that does sound good! Cassandra, I missed you today. Have a great weekend all.

Posted by: Nani | June 16, 2006 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I have pulled Father's Day privilege on occassion to force march my family on a bike ride. The last time we went to Gravelly Point and my wife's tires had more leaks that I had patches, so she got a reprieve. My son and I biked into Alexandria to buy more tubes and then biked over to and around the Jefferson Memorial.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2006 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Most everyone stayed on topic! A very nice topic for most, it seems.

A good one for me, as I get ready to hit the road tomorrow to go the SC for a week with my whole family -- the 50th wedding anniversary thing.

BC -- have a great beach weekend.

My dad and I never got along until abou ten years ago.

We are the same person -- we even look very much alike -- the same explosive perosnality, strongly held opinions, quick to anger.

I think he liked me just fine until my opinions started to be the mirror opposite of his. He was so shocked that this could happen . . .

For years, we were literally at each other's throats. No speaking unless it was arguing.

I was not very respectful.

When I got really, really sick in the mid-90s and had to move in with my parents for 18 months, the bets were out as to who would survive -- me or him.

What happened instead is that we were finally forced to confront each other as fallible human beings (he doesn't know this yet).

He would come home for lunch and there I'd be -- so we started talking. It was all politics all the time. We are both political animals. The screaming and arguing slowly devolved into laughing and teasing.

My mother had banned him from listening to Rush Limbaugh on the car radio( even when he was alone in his own car -- and this is a marriage that is 50 years old!)

So he would preface every statement about something he'd heard on Limbaurgh by saying "I don't listen to Limbaugh anymore, but I just heard this on the way home . . ."

When I would teasingly remind him of the Great Ban, he would say "I don't listen to him anymore -- he was just on before I could change the station." Or words to that effect.

My father didn't listen to Limbaugh in this fashion for years. It was our secret.

Age, on both our parts, and the grudging acceptance that neither one of us was going to change finally brought us together.

I don't think he's ever told me he loves me. It's not a storybook relationship -- he has never gotten over me being unable to work. He knows I'm ill -- but he still has traces of contempt. I'm not going any further down this road -- not on the eve of spending a week with him.

But we do have a relationship today. There are things my mother and I still don't tell him (like the fact that I broke the springs on my Ford Escort hatchback by hauling half a ton of horse manure from a local farm back to my house for the garden. It took me about 3 weeks to unload it all -- i drove around town with a car full of horse****! It didn't smell though -- made me think of my childhood).

He still hit the roof with rage over stuff I do that's stupid.

But hey, I still have both of them -- a blessing that I don't forget.

Happy Father's Day everyone!

Not sorry I missed yesterday's fallout from joel's HH interview. Manichean visions of the world seem to be dominant today.

Nani -- thanks for thanking me for the horse sotries. I too loved what you wrote about your father. I always wanted a "daddy' I could have loved and been loved by.

I guess it's never too late

Posted by: nelson | June 16, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Wow, nelson. I hardly ever see the word Manichaean (or Manichean -- I just like diphthongs). Cool.

Posted by: StorytellerTim | June 16, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

St Tim (hey, you're a saint!). -- I couldn't remember how to spell it (manichaean) and so winged it. Thanks for the wiggle room.

I'm off tomorrow for fun in the sun. Let y'all know how it went when I get back.

Happy boodling.

Posted by: nelson | June 16, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm fortunate to have had a good relationship with my parents, although a brother complains I am way too like my father.

Given that my dad decided his unique sage advice to me for life was "You don't know it until you show it", I'm afraid I was primed to be a target of assault by people who don't like smart-alecks.

Other than that, he was very involved with his kids for his generation (post-war, not babyboomer). Maybe a little too vocally at times.

My siblings never realized the best way to get him talking outside "yelling parent mode" is to watch a late night classic movie with him.

My parents broke from the mold of "expert advice" to try sign language.

He was president of a PTA for a deaf school and swelled membership ranks by over a thousand until he had to resign from being burnt out from a full time job, 3 meetings a week and so on. One of my early memories is helping fill out thousands of fundraising envelopes.

The deaf school remains standing to this day. Through that work, he met many deaf adults and families of deaf children.

He once said "I met a deaf man, and I asked him who his father was. He didn't know his name. What did his father do? He didn't know either. I asked and he knew nothing. I want MY children to know who I am."

Another thing he said, "one of the hardest things is to convince fathers they should learn sign to talk to their children. Mothers usually have no problems, but fathers don't."

He said that in the tone of one who could not possibly imagine why a man would want to live his life not being able to talk to his own child.

I thought I'd share this. For my generation I've been lucky in how I've been raised.

Here's to the old greyheaded (or bald) sires, many happy returns, Sto Lat!

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 16, 2006 5:46 PM | Report abuse

My dad and I never really got along. Seemed we were in a constant p*ssing match and it didn't help matters that he was pretty much a drunk, womanizing bastard. When he decided to marry another woman (without first divorcing my Mom, or even mentioning divorce to her), I had reached my limit with him. My Mom died shortly after divorcing him and I didn't speak to him for almost 10 years. We've since made a guarded peace with each other -- especially since he adores my daughter and doesn't want cut out of her life.

So, not many fond recollections here. My best memories of the male bonding sort were times spent with my grandfather (Mom's side). He's the one who taught me how to read music, how to play the sax and clarinet, and basically nurtured my creative side. He's also the one responsible for turning me into a woodworking nut. I remember hanging out in his little workshop in the basement (used to be a coal cellar) where he'd carve birds and fish and let me have a little glass of homemade wine when Grandma wasn't looking.

He was always a blast to hang around with -- especially when I was old enough to hit the bars and clubs with him. As a jazz musician, he'd played everywhere in the tri-state area so no matter where we went, everyone knew his name. The last decade has been hard on him though -- buried two of his kids (my Mom included), and the surviving ones put him in one impossible fix after another. It's been a while since I've seen him. I really should make the trip for a visit, but it just breaks my heart to see him as a shadow of his former self.

Anyway, I became a proud daddy myself four years ago. My better half and I never thought we could have kids, so learning we were pregnant was the most amazing surprise of our lives. So far, our little bean has lived up to the amazing part. She's at that fun age where we get to play the "why" game. I always swore I'd never resort to the trusty "just because", but then I'd never experienced a string of 40 or 50 "why's" fired off in rapid succession. Speaking of which, I'm planning on taking her to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh this weekend. She's never been to a museum (or the city, for that matter), so I'm expecting at least several thousand "why's". I'm also hoping I can pull a "Father's Day privelege" (thanks for the idea, yello!) and get them to agree to lunch at an Indian restaurant I love in that neighborhood.

btw... Joel, I don't know how you do it. Three of them? I only have the one and she's almost too much to handle. Three I just can't imagine.

Posted by: martooni | June 16, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

The oft-repeated saying is that three is the decisive number because then you have to switch from man-on-man to zone defence.

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 16, 2006 6:10 PM | Report abuse

St. Tim -- most men would love dipthongs -- a mere few centimeters of a garment in which svelte, lovely women dip into the water -- and leave much exposed. :-)

Actually, am not sure how to pronounce manichaean -- but I like the effect of "manic" being the first syllable.

Posted by: nelson | June 16, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse

LOL SoC... never heard that one. I wonder, though, whether three children generate three times the trouble one child causes, or is it more like two times the trouble (or even less) if they work as a team?

Posted by: martooni | June 16, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

All of the stories are so great. I felt a little sad reading some of them, but enjoyed all of them. Nani, your writing is so good, and I know I've told you this before, but you really should publish. I believe many, many, folks would love your writing. I know I do, and think I speak for many here. TBG, the picture is good. Your father looks so happy.

My relationship with my father has not been the best. Some of us, as Lindaloo says, don't have good stories to tell. I can remember that my father used to take my sisters and me to the beach in South Carolina. Not Myrtle Beach, because African-Americans were not allowed there, but to Atlantic Beach. He always had a different woman, not my mother because they were divorced. I think my father wanted us to see another part of the world, and to see the ocean. We enjoyed these trips to the beach, but when it was time to come back home, my father was always slightly drunk, so the ride was scary. He would stop a lot, and try to get straight, and we would be in knots the whole time. When finally home, we would tell our mother that we weren't going with him anymore, but always jumped right back in the car again. My sister asked me before she died, did I know that we were a dysfunctional family. My father had a hard life, and I believe he just didn't know how to do better. And I believe sometimes that is still the case. Your parents are your parents, what can you do? I try to be a good daughter and help him, and I believe that is all that is required of me. And I love him.

Have a great weekend everyone. It is so quiet here today, I can almost feel it, it's like a calm has come over the boodle, and I love it. And I love you guys.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 16, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Happy Father's Day to all you dads. Enjoy your day, and know that you are loved much.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 16, 2006 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, go see your grandfather. HE doesn't feel like a shadow of his former self. He still feels just like HIMSELF.

Posted by: nellie | June 16, 2006 7:27 PM | Report abuse

And Martooni, for heavens sake, take the baby girl with you. And your camera.

Posted by: Slyness | June 16, 2006 8:21 PM | Report abuse

My family comes from the country. My dad's family would go hunting every fall in the woods in Botetourt County (a real family afffair--Granny and my aunts butchered the deer back at camp while the men went back into the woods). When my dad was 22, and I was 4, my grandfather died, and my father didn't go hunting again--it wasn't the same without his father, and I showed no interest in hunting.

By the time I started kindergarten, I was interested in paleontology, an area that had never fascinated Dad. But he remembered seeing fossils in the rocks where he used to hunt, and every summer for several years thereafter he would take me there to collect fossil crinoids and brachiopods.

Posted by: Dooley | June 16, 2006 9:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm back. scottynuke, as they say in the Navy, "I have the con," so you are relieved. Thank you and a hearty well-done. You have the thanks of a grateful boodle during what was a trying three days.
You and the GF enjoy the weekend.

I've just read all the kits since I left, and have much umbrage to vent on certain persons who shall be, for the moement, nameless, but I think you regulars aren't in much doubt about who I mean. And I shall get to them in due course, but not right now. First, I've got some stuff to do, but maybe later on tonight I'll post a Dad story. The umbrage doesn't belong in this particular kit and boodle, and I won't sully it.

And yes, I am proud of you all. Well done, well done.

Carry on, back in a little while.

(scotty, try some nail polish remover to get off the glue left by the duct tape. Hope you drank some Gatorade to get back the electrolytes you lost during...ah...certain phases of your acting shop steward-hood.)

Oh, and Sydney: be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 16, 2006 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I hit the "submit" button on the above post about 8 p.m., and then walked away from the computer to eat dinner and do some stuff. I came back a second ago to find the Moveable Type Monster ate it, so I reposted it.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 16, 2006 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, what a week for you and RD Padouk to be gone! Yeesh.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 16, 2006 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting caught up with the boodle after spending the last week in the wilds of Alamedo County.

Regarding the insistence of HH that Joel define himself within the political taxonomy. I find this fundamentally offensive because it implies that a writer's personal political views will invariably taint his work. It implicitly accepts the notion that all writing is propaganda; it merely seeks to define what kind of propaganda is being produced. Perhaps this is true for some writers, but for Joel Achenbach, I assert that it is not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 16, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Great boodle today! I read the Kit at work and nearly wept - Joel is such a good writer. And also because this will be the first Father's Day with my son so far away (and my dear husband, the father in this case, is out of town). My own dad has been gone many years. I have a lot of conflicted feelings about him - he was a "character", as they say - but I always knew he loved me. Actually, I was the youngest and the "favorite". And he spent more time with me when I was little because he had broken his back - so my mom went back to work teaching and he stayed home with me when I was about 4. One day I said I wanted brownies, so he baked me some - from scratch, melting the chocolate, etc. I remember too that I told him I could count to 100. He didn't believe me, so I did. He always let me know how proud he was of me. He didn't like my husband-to-be, though. My mom told me it was because they were so alike!

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 16, 2006 10:16 PM | Report abuse

LP, welcome back! We missed you! Have you seen Bayou Self or Don from I-270 or Eurotrash?

Mudge, RD, good to see you again. It was a rough week, but we made it. As Cassandra said, a calm has come over the boodle.

Hope everyone has a good weekend and Father's Day.

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 16, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm a mostly lurker here for several months, but Thursdays visitors reminded me it was Fathers' Day. Some of them were channeling my father. He is not deceased, just old school.

When I was a young girl, my father supported me, told me I could be so much, but I should be able to type because that is how an even college education woman could support herself in the early 70's, without benefit of a husband. - There is so much there I don't want to go back near.

Daddy and I argued politics. The rest of the family were convinced we were both wired incorrectly. - In the late 60's and 70's he listened to me - I bloomed. I loved that man - He told me as a Mangnuson Democrat and my mother as a Rockefeller Republican we could do anything within reason.

Then I grew up - It didn't get bad until a few years ago when civilized political discussion was no longer an option.

I envy those of you who still have an active father in your life - Daddy still breathes, however, I do not vote in concert with his beliefs and he will barely acknowledge I live, he will not step foot in my house, and he calls out my husband each and every opportunity.

I have attempted to declare politics free zones - grandsons should know their grandparents - but his beliefs are more important - All this floooded back Thursday with some rude visitors.

Most of you are gone for the weekend - enjoy - my darling father-in-law is long gone and I wish I had a speaking relationship with my father.

Posted by: Orchid | June 16, 2006 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Padouk -- welcome back. You are so right about what HH tried to do to Joel -- but I think people like HH truly believe that no person can write anything, anything, even a science-humor blog, without their deep partisanship shining through.

I believe that HH and others like him are so mired in their own partisan world-views, they can't imagine someone who doesn't think this way. It seemed from the transcript that HH feels that anyone who writes about politics at all must be an ideologue. Left or Right. An a priori assumption.

HH's dancing with dilettante's was revealing.

From what I understood, HH feels Joel should not have written the Zarqawi blog because he is an amateur -- and perhaps a squishy one at that.

Joel was trying to have it both ways: HH saw him as coy about his voting record, (and I'm sure HH is sure he knows what it is), and yet he dared to write something with political overtones.

His either/or outlook is especially disturbing. Hence my use of manichaean (spelled St. Tim's way) to capture the rabid partisanship in the country (mostly on the right, and I think I'm being fair here -- to wit: Ann Coulter, Rush, Tom DeLay, etc. The Dems are too hopelessly confused as to what they should be -- Oliphant's cartoon today was perfect).

I'm very happy to know that Joel takes sreiously the sanctity of the secret ballot. That HH badgered him so on this point was unnerving.

Last thoughts, on a more somber note, before I leave tomorrow for SC.

Hope I can drive the whole way in one day. I haven't drive over 4 hours in 19 years.

Cassandra -- you're upbeat and forgiving attitude is a joy to read. I've had a lot of drama and trouble over the years with nearly all my family members -- yet I realized long ago we are all doing the best we can. My parents included.

My father was an absentee dad. He was either working or drinking. But the man worked like a dog to see that we had many good things and a comfortable life.

The only time he set foot on my college campus was the day I graduated. For a long time I really had a resentment about that.

It took some age to realize he had been working to pay for my privilege of higher education.

I think it was because he expected so much of me that he still struggles with accepting my life-long debilitating illness.

I'm the supposed brain of the four of us -- was an undergraduate prodigy in archaeology, graduated magna cum laude, was supposed to go on to academic greatness. Instead I ran into personal difficulties at an early age, and then got sick -- never fulfilling the potential he (and I) dreamed of.

When both my parents retired in 2000, I sent them a long letter thanking them for every sacrifice made four us. I didn;t knwo when I was a kid that he was sacrificing. I sure do now.

They both did the very best the could -- and it wasn't all that bad.

Posted by: nelson | June 16, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

I third the comments about your grandfather.

Don't hold back. He probably wonders when you're gonna come and visit.

As one who shares your allergy to certain types of beverages, I know how hard stuff like this can be.

But I agree with slyness -- take your little bean and a camera. And some great jazz music!!

What a father's day gift.

Gotta go get the last load of laundry and finish packing.

Posted by: nelson | June 16, 2006 10:41 PM | Report abuse

nelson... it's late and you've probably gone to bed to rest up for your trip, but have a great time and enjoy the celebration. Wow. Fifty years. That's great.

Have a wonderful time and enjoy and appreciate your family. We'll miss you and want a full report when you get back.

martooni... I can see that now that you're a parent yourself you can forgive your father just because he adores your little girl. It's amazing what having a kid can do to your entire outlook. I'm glad you're giving your daughter a grandfather, too, because that's important (look at your own relationship with yours).

And speaking of your grandfather... go, already!

Posted by: TBG | June 16, 2006 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I've enjoyed the boodle today, but I want to say to those of you here who were not as lucky in the dad department that we're not gloating; we're not trying to make anyone feel bad if they didn't have a storybook childhood. We're just taking the opportunity to honor someone who was important to us.

I had a roommate once who said, "I hate people who have fathers." What a statement. Hers had died suddenly when she was 13 or 14. She was the only girl in a family of 7 kids and was Daddy's princess. She lost that role when he died and always resented it--and anyone who had a father.

I hope she got over that.

But I also have a cousin whose father died when he was about 6 or 7. He now has a wife and three kids of his own and the life he didn't have growing up. It's nice to see guys like him and bc, and Joel (and others here, I'm sure) who didn't have a father in the house growing up who have turned out to be great dads themselves. Their kids are somehow even luckier to have them.

Happy Fathers Day to all of us! We wouldn't be here without 'em!

Posted by: TBG | June 16, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, my Dad story, in honor of 8 or 10 or so very specific dads, not all of whom will be named; you know who you are.

When I was 6, my family moved from a row house in Philly out to what we then called "the country," about an hour north of Philly (near Ambler, Pa.), in a place called Horsham Township. The whole area was rural; there were zero housing developments, zero beltways and expressways (it being 1952). I started first grade in the local elementary school, which was a four-room schoolhouse. We had about 14 kids in first grade, and about the same in second; third and fourth were about 20 kids in one room, and about the same for 5th and 6th, also in one room. The bus driver was Mr. Mann, who was also the school janitor and handyman. Mrs. Henry was the cafeteria lady; I think she had one helper. The "cafeteria" was in a basement, near the boiler.

In 1956, when I was in 4th grade (by that time we had added a wing, and had 10 (!) classrooms!! And a "big" cafeteria/auditorium/gym with a stage and everything!!!) a group of dads got together and formed the first Little League in the area. There was my dad, and Mr. Crim, and Mr. Wobensmith, and Mr. Meyers, and Mr. Sonier. Mr. Sonier was elected president and my dad was vice president; Mr. Crim was treasurer. They applied to Williamsport, Penna., for an official Little League charter, and the Horsham Little League was in business! There was a second elementary school in Horsham (Mr. Crim and Mr. Sonier's boys went to that school, not ours), and the league drew from kids from those two schools. Each school had one baseball field behind each school, so there we were, with a grand total of two fields. Little League registration was held in the township building on Horsham Road, which was a leftover WWII quonset hut across the street from Willow Grove Naval Air Station that had the township office in front and the township's snow plow in the back. It was a rainy, cold day, I think in late February. My parents staffed the registration (as did the other parents; all I remember was spending the day in a chilly, musty, damp Quonset building bored out of my skull, but we signed up enough kids to field two "major league" teams (age 11-12) and two minor league (10-11, IIRC) teams. And the first year proceeded apace.

Over that following winter, the township built a new township building, an actual, proper township building, and behind it the Little League was allowed to build two fields, one for majors and one for minors. And we were also allowed to build a snack bar/scorekeepers' building behind the first (major) field. Mr. Meyers and Mr. Wobensmith were builders/contractors of some sort, and my father also knew how to build things, so those three dads led the construction team of moms and dads who built those two fields. I remember my father sitting at our kitchen table reading the LL rulebook that gave directions on how to lay out the field: distance from the backstop to the plate, distance to the pitching rubber, height of the mound, distance to the fence (variable, but 185 feet on that field, IIRC). Somebody had a bulldozer which cleared some trees and scraped and leveled everything. Then every weekend all that late winter and spring, every Saturday and Sunday families went to the field and picked up rocks and stones. Mr. Meyers, Mr. Wobersmith and my dad laid out the fields, and sited the post holes. They bnuilt a waist-high fence all around, laid sod on the infield, grew grass on the outfield, laid out the plate, mound and bases, and taught themselves how to lime the field foul lines and batter's boxes. They bought bats and basbeballs and catcher's gear, and Army surplus duffle bags to put them in. They bought "uniforms" (T-shirts and caps) for the teams. (We had "proper" flannel uniforms a few years later.)

The also got 2x6s, 2x4s, and sheets of plywood, and built the concession stand right behind the backstop. The concession area was u-shaped, and on all three sides, there was a big sheet of plywood that hinged from the ceiling, so the plywood could be lowered down to enclose the stand when it was shut up for the night. The U was enclosed by a small "porch" under the overhand, so you could get out of the rain, if necessary. The fourth side front against the backstop, and there was a small raised platform about three steps up; the scorekeep and the announced could sit up and there and watch the game and keep score.

My mother was in charge of the concession stand, and recruited some other moms to help, of course, but she basically ran it. You older buzzards will certainly remember Stuart sandwiches. These were frozen hot dogs and hamburgers, already made up, and the Stuart vendor gave you an electric oven that sat up on the countertop, and when someone order a hot dog you put it (still in its cellophane wrapper) inside the oven and turned the dial two two minutes, or however long it was. And there was about a dozen kinds of candy (because that's about all there was back then), and sodas, and coffee for the adults.

When my brother or I weren't playing, our whole family still went to "the park" every night. My mother ran the concession stand, and if my father wasn't coaching a team he umpired (reluctantly). My brother or I (we were on different teams, so one or the other of us was almost always playing) worked in the concession stand, and I especially liked going up into the scorer's bench to start up the .45 r.p.m. victrola (!) that we brought from home and play the National Anthem, and sometimes announce games. ("Announcing" consisted of saying, between innings, "Tigers lead, 14-3." That was it. I was no Harry Carey or Byrum Saam. And the loudspeaker system would squeal and deafen about 19 parents.) I loved that place.

So we became what I now know to call "a Little League family." It is a nuclear family unit in which both parents are deeply involved in the league (or it could be soccer, or youth football, doesn't matter). They basically go every night, or nearly so, year in and year out. One parent may be a coach, or one or the other may be a league officer--president, VP, recording secretary, whatever. From early April through July the family does almost nothing but Little League. Every community team of every kind has at least two or three such families, and perhaps more. We were one such Little League family; so were the Crims, and Soniers. Mr. Meyers was always there, and so was Mr. Wobensmith, and three or four others (I may be being unfair to Mrs. Meyers and Mrs. Wobensmith; they may also have come out more often than I remembered. But I remember the league officers rotating their monthly meetings from kitchen to kitchen--one month at the Crim's house, one at the Soniers, one in our kitchen, and so on. I remember one night my mother shooing me out of the kitchen, because all the dads were in their doing the annual player draft, which was top secret, and no one--especially anybody's kids--being privy to discussions about players' skill levels, and who was taking whom in what round. It was about the only time I wasn't allowed to eavesdrop and watch how adults ran organizations like this.

I now know that parents like these also tend to become the parents who run the PTA, and the church socials, and the PTA rummage sale (my mother was chairman of the "White Elephant" fundraising sale for several years, along with Eddie Stanford's mom Tillie) There were Peg and Fritz Gross, and Tony and Edith Stranges, and the Ferraros, and the Georges, and the Brogdons, and some others. (Tillie Stanford was PTA president; my mom was VP for a few years; they were quite a team.)

Nobody ever said, "Watch these people, because 20 or 30 years from now you'll be just like them, in their shoes." Nobody ever said, "Watch your dad. Watch him build a Little League field and a concession stand, and manage a team, and go to meetings with other dads." But without especially meaning to, I did exactly that. I remember it all like it was yesterday.

Fast-forward a lot of years. I moved to Maryland and got married. My father died of a heart attack (driving to the pharmacy in Clearwater, Florida, to get his nitroglycerine pills for his heart). I was kind of looking around for something to do, some activity to stay in shape, and one day I wandered over to the local Little League field, and watched a game. I asked somebody how you go about becoming a Little League umpire. They told me to go talk to that old guy over there, named Bob Hooper, who was the league's chief umpire. He told me that I had to go to a class he conducted, to learn how to be an umpire. So I went, and became an umpire, even though at the time we had no kids playing in the league. I just did it because I enjoyed it.

Long story short, I umpired for 17 years. I eventually joined the league board of directors, and served on the board for 10 years. When Hooper retired, I became chief umpire for the league, and became chief umpire instructor for six or seven years. I even ran the concession stand for two years. One year I went to Williamsport, Pa, the home of Little League, for a week-long advanced umpiring course, and got to umpire behind the plate in the stadium where the Little League World Series is televised every year (though it was only a local team practice game, with a total of 7 spectators in the stands). Eventually three of my kids played baseball or softball, and spent many hours watching their old man umpire games they were too small to play in. When they got a little older, one son and one daughter worked with me in the concession stand on the nights/Saturdays I wasn't umpiring. I had every intention of going for 25 years, but my legs failed and then my heart condition and bypass put an end to my Little League career.

In all that time, my wife had virtually nothing to do with Little League. She schlepped the kids to their games, and stayed to watch the games, but otherwise wasn't much interested. She hates baseball, which is her prerogative, and is active in her church events and some other civic stuff. Once or twice I asked her if she was interested in doing something like help with the concession stand, or be a team mom, but she wasn't remotely interested. So we never became "a Little League family." She became, instead, something called "a Little League widow." (Same species, I suppose, as a golf widow, or a poker, widow, or a bowling widow, or whatever.) After 17 years, I now know many "Little League families," and I know lots of people (mostly men), who have Little League widows at home, and I know two women who had Little League widowers. I know of several Little League divorces, including my closest friend in Little League.

I have never before told this story, in its entirety, to anyone, even my wife (she knows the bits and pieces, of course; she just doesn't know the importance of it, and to the emotions attached.)
So this story is dedicated to my dad, and to the other dads, Mr. Crim, Mr. Sonier, Mr. Meyers, and Mr. Wobensmith, Mr. Cruise and Mr. Bosler, Mr. Perkes, and all the other dads (and the moms, too!) who founded and organized and built the Horsham Little League in 1956.

I have never before told anyone the main reason I became an umpire: to pay these men back for all they did. Because I owed them. It's how I learned what it means to be a man, and a dad. The answer is remarkably simple: You do what Mr. Sonier did, and what Mr. Crim did, and Mr. Wobensmith. Thank you, gentlemen, for all you did. Thank you, dad.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 16, 2006 11:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with yellojkt on this being the best Boodle ever. Can we have it bronzed?

Posted by: nellie | June 17, 2006 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Wow Mudge, that was a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing it with us. This one's truly a keeper. While our daughter's little league organization doesn't have a concession stand and the fields are already built, we are probably one of the Little League families of today. We spend days at the field each week, do the pot luck after the weekend games, help in the dugout, and keep score. I've been team parent a number of times and have organized the coaches' gifts and purchases of uniforms and the like. It's a lifestyle I think and, yes, my dad and grandfather were part of it too. I come from a baseball family with my grandfather being a legendary coach in our town. My brother played ball as a kid and my dad coached his team for a few years. We always went to local baseball games (high school and college - no MLB teams in Hawaii) and learned about pitching, hitting and fielding from both my dad and my grandfather. I never played - girls didn't play LL back in those days, but I felt a huge part of it nonetheless. I'm thrilled that my daughter loves the game and finds that nothing is as much fun to her than throwing the ball in the yard with her dad. It's great to see a part of my father and grandfather reflected in my child.

Posted by: Aloha | June 17, 2006 12:48 AM | Report abuse

omni, did you see that?
LP is back!

Welcome back, LP!

[My dad is the best. He's letting me use his computer to 'boodle.]

Posted by: Achenfan | June 17, 2006 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Mudge thanking for sharing your story that was very special. I am told all the time that my children will learn from me by my actions and not necessarily what I say. Your story is proof of that, what a lucky man you were to have such a great role model and what a nice tribute that you followed in the footsteps of your dad.

Posted by: dmd | June 17, 2006 6:41 AM | Report abuse

OK, OK, all ready! (nellie and slyness and TBG)

I'm gonna go but...

You've got to understand that "that trip" isn't an easy one (even if it's only an hour's drive). My grandparents' home used to be the proverbial center of the universe back in the day. It was always full of music and children. Now it's more like a cross between a funeral home and an intensive care unit. Everyone (when anyone is there) speaks in hushed tones. Children are no longer permitted to climb the walls. I take after my grandfather and try to put a positive spin on things, no matter what, but that attitude is no longer welcome there.

It's also a dangerous place for my sobriety. I never really drank until after Mom's death -- and that house is a literally a shrine to her memory (but not in a healthy way). The kitchen (the hub of the house) is literally plastered with her pictures (and those of my uncle who passed a few years ago, also at an early age), obituary clippings, dried flowers from the funerals... they just can't let go. I don't blame them (who expects to bury a child? let alone two of them?), but I went through my own Hell learning how to move on and it's difficult (to say the least) to sit at a table surrounded by so many reminders of death (not just my Mom's and my Uncle's, but the pending/inevitable deaths of my grandparents).

I know I have to face reality (so yes, I'm going to visit, maybe even today), but that doesn't make it any easier.

Posted by: martooni | June 17, 2006 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Martooni, would it be possible on your visit to somehow share your mutual love of music with your Grandfather?

Posted by: dmd | June 17, 2006 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, you knocked that one out of the park.

I was going to post the new Rough Draft column but don't want to step on this boodle. It's so good. Thanks everyone for such great stories! (See what HH is missing by not allowing comments?)

Later today I hit the road again with the eldest kid and take her to camp in Tennessee, should be fun, especially if we get a hike in along the way.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 17, 2006 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Let's just say I always have a guitar (or two) in the trunk, dmd.

One of my most cherished memories is of a night about 15 years ago when I convinced my grandfather (and the two of us convinced not only my grandmother, but my parents, too) to go to a seedy little club here in Youngstown for "jazz night". My grandfather brought his sax, I had my guitar, and a cousin of mine showed up with a harmonica (we didn't even know he played!). Of course, Grandpa knew one of the guys in the band and we ended up sitting in for a set. Grandma was always partial to polkas, but even she was tapping her feet.

If I can get him into musical territory, this visit might not be so painful. Unfortunately, both of us love the "blues", so even that might be trouble. But I'm willing to give it a shot.

Posted by: martooni | June 17, 2006 8:07 AM | Report abuse

What a sentimental bunch.

The same people who can poigniently memorialize their loved ones can completely dismiss Kos for calling murdered contractors in Iraq greedy and deserving of their fate.

If ever there was an example of how it was that German prison guards could separate out in their minds the humanity of the eight year old girl in the concentration camp with their own eight year old back at home, this is it.

I believe in being fully human. Which means I do not have a switch to turn on and off, humanizing and de-humanizing different peoples of the world to serve my rhetorical ends like the regulars of Achenblog.

The terrorist blow up a bus full of children in Baghdad and you all think that shows why WE should leave Iraq.

How pathetic and idiotic is that?

The terrorist murderers that you count as "collateral damage", along with their innocent civilian victims that Kos and figure as victims of U.S. aggression belie your real heartfelt sentiment.

There are moral distinctions between the murderers and the murdered. I feel no sorrow at the death of Zarqowi and I haven't laughed or pounded my chest once about it. That "celebrating" of Zarqowi's death that the left is constantly referencing is really just the bemusement by almost all Americans at how the fringe left (and some on the reactionary right) seem to be mourning the death of Zarqowi, just lumping him in with the little school girls that he murdered and then the ever so sentimental lefties protest that "30,000 Iraqi civilians have died because of the U.S. occupation - Bush lied, people died."

A moral equivication that really makes you believe that liberalism is a mental disease, just like Stockholm Syndrom or Munchausen Syndrom.

Posted by: Erik | June 17, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Erik, I do not know why you believe "the left" share one mindset. I cannot speak for anyone but myself. I take no joy in anyone's death. At the same time I have never mourned the death of Zarqowi, his death is not a solution to anything more will follow in his footsteps.

The comments in this boodle are heartfelt and everyone is entitled to them and whatever their political beliefs are should not preclude them from sharing their memories and emotions.

Posted by: dmd | June 17, 2006 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Erik have you had that chill pill yet? Had the walk, and ready for the day, and hoping that the grandchildren show up. It's a beautiful day, and I have much to do. Need to tie up the tomatoes. And maybe put something to them like Miracle Gro. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and celebration of Father's Day. Take care, and get some rest. Vacation Bible school is up this week, so I'll be checking in late, if at all with the grands. Please remember that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 17, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Erik... I think your post would be more appropriate in one of the previous kits (not that we encourage on-topic posting, but wtf?). Do you routinely crash weddings, baby showers and bar mitzvahs with this crap? In case you haven't noticed, us "regulars" have moved on to a different topic while you... well...

This isn't the 24/365.25 politics channel. We do think about and discuss other things.


Posted by: martooni | June 17, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Evil Filter Watch (to borrow a Froomkin catchtitle):

crap, blowhard and wtf made it through!

(for those unfamiliar with "wtf", it's keyboard shorthand for "what the (rhymes with duck)")

Posted by: martooni | June 17, 2006 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Well it was a nice Father's Day boodle about Dad and the Little League, I guess it was only a matter of time before someone made the obvious linkage to Nazi concentration camp guards.

How pathetic and idiotic is that?

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 17, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone!!!

Mudge, did you take the umbrage with you?

I looked in the paper this morning and can't say that I get the feeling that the government is running any better than before, but I sure appreciate your efforts!


Posted by: Dolphin Michael | June 17, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

> How pathetic and idiotic is that?

Very pathetic and very idiotic, Error.

And I'm not taking the wingnut's bait. Not today. It's too nice outside and it's Fathers Day weekend (I'm now actively trying to turn it into a full weekend of benefits).


I've mentioned a few times here about my love of woodworking. My plan for today is to hang the new shutters I made this week. Then I'm off to Home Depot to buy a band saw I've been eyeing up for a while, and more wood, of course (which seems to be following gas price trajectories), then I'm going to build another Adirondack chair (this one for "Mrs. Martooni"). If all goes well I may even get some fishing in this evening.

Oh... and Erik... I realize this probably didn't make the "top 100" list of Republican's favorite songs, but maybe you should give a listen to Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding". It's got a great beat and the message is something I think you should consider. While you're at it, you might want to check out "Goon Squad"... it's on the same album.

Posted by: martooni | June 17, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with the visit, martooni! I look forward to your report back to us.

Mudge, wonderful story, as always. Funny how we have to get older to see what precious gifts our parents have given us.

Beautiful summer day here in the Carolinas. I'm planning to enjoy.

Posted by: Slyness | June 17, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Just had Move-Type eat another comment. Let's see what happens with this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

People, I think we've just got to stop arguing with Erik. I know we aren't supposed to call anybody names here, but he is one sick, pathetic dude. He is the epitome of everything that's wrong with the rightwing wingbat superpatriots. There's no talking to him, there's no reasoning with him, there's no discussing anything, there's no common ground. He doesn't belong here, he doesn't understand what we do here, and he is no longer welcome here. He is very certainly wasting his own time here. He can go find some other blog to vent to.

In the meantime, I propose we just totally ignore him, and skim over any future posts of his. As far as I am concerned, there is no Erik, so there is nothing and no one to respond to any further. You all gave it your best shot, but you have to know when to walk away.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

OK, it posted that time. Cool.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

A tribute to the now banished boodler:

Eri[k] the Half a Bee

(spoken) Half a bee, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be. be.
But half the bee has got to be, be
A vis-a-vis, its entity - you see.

But can a bee be said to be,
Or not to be, an entire bee,
When half the bee is not a bee,
Due to some ancient injury?

A la-dee-dee, a 1-2-3
Eri[k] the half a bee.
Eri[k] the half a bee.

Is this little demi-bee,
Half asleep upon my knee,
Some freak from a menagerie?
No! He's Eri[k] the half a bee.

A fiddle de dum, a fiddle de dee
Eric the half a bee.
Ho-Ho-Ho, Tee-hee-hee
Eric the half a bee.

I love this hive employee-ee
Bisected accidentally,
One summer afternoon by me,
I loved him carnally.
He loves him carnally.
Semi carnally.
The end.
Cyril Connely?
No, semi carnally!
[Whistle end of tune.]

Posted by: distant lurker | June 17, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I've generally been taking that approach with all the HH partisan cliche-throwers but as a guy who didn't have much of a relationship with his father it really cheesed me off to see the boodle poisoned by that post, and sometimes ya just gotta say so.

I'm afraid that Erik and his like are in fact what the wants here, because it's all about page views baby. If you tweak a blogger's following you just got their page views added to what you already have.

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 17, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you beat me to my Erik suggestion.

Loved your story. When I was in the 4th grade, I decided I wanted to play little-league football. Dad took me to the first practice, and was disturbed by what we saw. There were about 20 4th graders (9-10 years old) there, with about 30 other kids that were around 13 years old. My Dad went to the coach, and told him "Look, if you put these 9-year-olds in with the 13-year-olds, they're going to get killed. Let me take the 4th graders and make another team." Some of the other 4th grade parents backed him up, and just like that, we had a 4th grade team--with no supplies, not even uniforms.

Dad scrounged around through the stuff being tossed by the older team. He managed to come up with pads, helmets of two different colors, jerseys that were all orange, but of varying shades (some with the numbers written on in magic marker).

Dad tried to get the county little league association, and the school district, to provide some support, but to no avail (we were from the poor part of the county). The rich team in Bedford only scheduled us because we were supposed to be pushovers.

Turned out, when we played Bedford (our first game), they only won because of a bad call at the end of the game. Then it came out that the head official for the game was the uncle of Bedford's star player (who was involved in the bad call). Our parents were furious, and Dad realized we wouldn't get any support now.

After that, no one in the county would schedule us. We had to make 2-hour road trips just to find opponents. I think we finished the season 4-2.

It turned out that the Commisioner's last name was also Dooley. After the season, Dad went to a sporting goods store in Roanoke, ordered all new helmets and uniforms, told them to charge it to the little league, and signed it "Dooley". I guess after the officiating fiasco, they couldn't risk complaining about it, so the purchase went through and we had uniforms for the next year.

I went on to play 2 years in college, before my knees started giving out, which thrilled Dad, although he never saw me play in college. Later, when I was teaching in Louisiana, I became an assistant high school coach, and when our school started a middle school team, they asked me to be the head middle school coach. Dad flew to Louisiana for our first game (my first as a head coach). When we won 22-6, I thought the buttons on his shirt were going to pop off.

Posted by: Dooley | June 17, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I know, EF, I know. But it isn't about what WaPo may or may not want. We still have the option to ignore him, and his posts as well. So that's what I'm proposing. You are right that sometimes ya just gotta say so, and several of us did. So you're on the record, and properly so. But unlike some of the others Erik crossed a couple of lines he shouldn't have crossed. So now there is no Erik.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

My Dad was not a stable man. If his world was undisturbed, everything was fine. If anything ever went wrong, he would quickly descend into a verbal rant eerily reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." Early on we learned to keep him out of the loop.

When kept buffered from such traumas as an overflowing toilet, my Dad was a very pleasant and supportive man. He never questioned my ability to succeed, and never tolerated me (or anyone else) to question it either. He also trusted me without question. I never had a curfew. He treated me like a responsible adult even when I wasn't.

I do not recommend being raised by a father with twisted brain chemistry. Yet I realize that without my father I might not be the person I am now, and I kinda like how I turned out.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 17, 2006 1:08 PM | Report abuse

curmudgeon, this is just for the record, too.

summary of erik's contribution to the boodle: after spending a lot of hot air complaining about the perceived moral equivalence problem in the zarqawi post, erik has now equated the boodlers with nazi prison guards. well done.

loved reading everyone's comments about their fathers. my relationship to my dad is pretty good, but has had some rough patches (the term emotional constipation being very apt here). he's taught me lots of good things, though, by his lifestyle - hard work, fairness, integrity. he's always there to help. it's best to dwell on these things. go dads!

happy weekend everyone.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | June 17, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, not only are you one helluva shop steward, but there ain't a heartstring around you can't play like a Stradivarius when the mood strikes you.

*wipin' eye, dadgumit*

On behalf of my Dad, who did the LL rounds with the best of them (three times over at least for my younger brothers and I), muchos gracias, merci beaucoup, danke schoen and thank you.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 17, 2006 2:02 PM | Report abuse

SCC: my younger brothers and ME


In case I don't Boodle again this weekend, 'tis my turn to be out of pocket. Should be back next weekend. Peace.

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 17, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you mean that anybody was actually reading Erik? For me, he was like George Will: the words had no meaning. So I was skipping him anyway. I was depending on others for their feedback to get any sense of his posts.

Mr. Shop Steward, ahem, I have a suggestion. As has been noted, there have been some wonderful stories posted on Achenblog. I would like to see Joel's next book be Best of the Boodle: Achenblog 2006.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Still luv you, Mudge. A very fine and loving tribute to all of your fathers. I think that women collect mothers like men collect fathers, and I have had and lost (tho not in my heart ever) several mothers in my life, around the world.

My father's been dead for more than 21 years -- I miss him less than I miss my mother (gone for 11) -- and for different and completely appropriate reasons. Nevertheless, I do think of him, even kindly (and surprisingly so), from time to time. Fathers have different relationships with their daughters from with their sons. Ah, well, we all try, sometimes in vain, to please our parents and reap whatever approval we can from them. Should that not come to pass in reality, we can always milk our dreams and treat our own offspring and those of others the way we *wish* we were treated. And that gives tribute to them, ourselves and to the parental unit which didn't or indeed couldn't do same.

Very nice prose m'dear. Have a nice father's day yourself. And to all the other dads out there.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 17, 2006 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to all the dads (and sons) on the Nationals!!! Whadda comeback! (sorry mo!)

Wonder if Marlon Byrd's caught his breath yet. *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 17, 2006 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge that story was just the best, as always your writing is right up there with the best of them. Hurry back, scottynuke. I do wish Erik would take that chill pill. He would feel so much better. Glad you're back, RD. Hope Mr. Strippey is okay. We certainly need an update. It has been so rough here, but today has been much nicer.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 17, 2006 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Just walked in the door...did the Nats win? They were loosing 9-6 in the 6th last I heard. Gotta go check. Back in a minute...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Great stories all. This really was a great way to end a trying week. Some of my fondest memories of my dad are from the soccer field. I started playing when I was 6, and he coached me all the way through middle school. Here's one of my most memorable.

It was the last game of the season, and we were playing for first place. Both teams were evenly matched, and it was a great game. However, they scored first. We had tons of opportunities, corner kicks, break-aways, all that, but our forwards (I play defensive midfield) couldn't find the back of the net. Then, with about 5 minutes left, the other team clears the ball right towards me. I am standing about 10 yards over half field, and the ball is rolling right toward me. I take two steps, and strike the ball, hard. It soars up, over our forwards, over their defense, over their goalie, right into the goal! Tie game. (We won in overtime). My dad was so proud. Why? It was the first goal I had ever scored. Why else did this goal matter so much? Because both of my grandfathers were in the stands. I got to share the excitement of scoring my first goal with three of the men that I look up to the most.

Happy father's day. have a great rest of the weekend.

Posted by: tangent | June 17, 2006 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes!!!! 11-9 over the Yanks. Er.. sorry mo, sorry Weingarten (but...tee hee tee hee...) And from being down 9-2!!!

*trying unsuccessfully to look mildly conerned so as not to hurt mo's and Gene's feelings*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 17, 2006 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The two houses of Congress can hen piddle all they want to about how we should stay the course in Iraq and the two chambers can pass non-binding resolutions to that effect this past week, and President Bush can strut around the Rose Garden and jib-jabber about all the progress our troops are making, not so much in Iraq, but in the Global War on Terror

...and then Al Kamen from the Washington Post, under a piece titled Outlook on tonight's home page, posts a link to a six-page document sent from the Embassy in the Green Zone to the U.S. Secretary of State's office (how'd the Post ever get ahold of this?) that explains in some detail what life is like in Baghdad for embassy employees and, in general, on the streets of their capital city

...well, it just shoots to sawdust the soapbox that the President has been standing on telling us that the Iraqi military is starting to exert some control in Iraq, that we're adequately training their troops, that democracy is on the move there. I get the queasy, gut-torn feeling that we're starting to babysit an anarchy, rather than mollycoddle a democracy, in Iraq.

Posted by: Loomis | June 17, 2006 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Great googly moogly! We've been busy with the kitchen renovation, now in it's second week. Having been largely away due to the end-of-school dreck, the onset of summer vacation, etcetera, etcetera, the boodle has been a busy place. I wish Erik would take that walk. Happy Father's Day to all. My Dad passed three years ago. For most of our childhood, he was oppressive. He was a little warmer and fuzzier when he drank, to a point, then all bets were off. There was a lot of weight to the words "Wait until your father gets home" in our house. At that time, my early teens, Vietnam was in full swing and Nixon was in office. We used to argue heatedly about politics, and at that time Dad tended towards Erik's mindset. Dad's physical state deteriorated rapidly after Mom died, sadly by her own hand. It got to the point where he either gave up the bottle or his job, so he chose the former, and also quit smoking a few years later. Once sober, he was something. The sobriety made him mellow to the point where he grudgingly admitted that the Clinton years were good, and that Mr. Clinton was a good guy. One of my favourite memories of Dad involved the time we took he and his twin, Bob, to qualifying at CMS when it was still affordable (daytime, boxing match in the stands, free parking, etc.). As qualifying progressed, various racers would take to the track to various forms of the Bronx cheer and simultaneous salute. I flipped someone off and dad, grabbing my arm said "You can't do THAT!" I replied with a double the next lap. Dad saw that it was permissible speedway behaviour to salute the drivers in all manners possible. Thus by the end of the day, Dad and Bob were cheering and saluting with the best of them.

Posted by: jack | June 17, 2006 11:57 PM | Report abuse

My poor son.. he and his dad agree on politics! No heated debates in our house.

Posted by: TBG | June 18, 2006 12:24 AM | Report abuse

TBG: Great pix of your Dad. Mine served in the Merchant Marine durind the Korean War on the hospital ship Repose. One of my favourite pictures of him is in his dress uniform on the campus at King's Point.

Posted by: jack | June 18, 2006 12:30 AM | Report abuse

This boodle lasted long enough for me to post my Fathers Day blog.

It's based on a boodle a while back when we are also talking about dads. I scanned in some pictures and added some links. I'm waiting for the WaPo Intellectual Property lawyers to demand royalties. It's my dad and my memories. Keep away.

I was not big into sports, but did spend many years Scouting. I remember watching my dad rehearse the corny jokes he would use at the Pack meetings. They so matched his sense of humor. He supported me in whatever I did and was always behind the scenes. I don't think kids ever notice a tenth of what their parents do for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 6:42 AM | Report abuse

This boodle lasted long enough for me to post my Fathers Day blog.

It's based on a boodle a while back when we are also talking about dads. I scanned in some pictures and added some links. I'm waiting for the WaPo Intellectual Property lawyers to demand royalties. It's my dad and my memories. Keep away.

I was not big into sports, but did spend many years Scouting. I remember watching my dad rehearse the corny jokes he would use at the Pack meetings. They so matched his sense of humor. He supported me in whatever I did and was always behind the scenes. I don't think kids ever notice a tenth of what their parents do for them.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 7:03 AM | Report abuse

The comment monster is at work again. I have a Fathers Day post on my blog. If the accompanying link has been triple posted by now, please feel free to find it on your own.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 7:06 AM | Report abuse

I have managed to double-post. I apologize for my peevishness.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Happy, happy, Father's Day to all you dads out there. May your day be everything you want and so much more. Getting ready for Sunday school, and church. I do believe that crowd I'm so crazy about might show up today. Looking forward to it. Enjoy your families, enjoy your dad, if you've been bless to still have him, and if not, remember the good things, and try to get some rest. Please know in your heart that God loves you more than you can imagine through Him that died for all, Christ Jesus. And I love you all too.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 18, 2006 7:20 AM | Report abuse

It's Father's Day morning and I am hiding over here while my children put the presents into giftbags. Clearly they weren't listening during that whole "plan ahead" talk. My son created a card on the computer last night. I suspect he managed to slip in a subtle reference to driving lessons into the prose. I am told my daughter picked out her gift for me all by herself. Which means it is probably a food product she finds disgusting, which to her means I will probably love it. Funny thing is, she is usually right.
Perhaps my offspring could be more enthusiastic, but as any father knows, when children bring gifts and smiles, the gifts are redundant.

Posted by: RD Padouk | June 18, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

My father's day gifts have been in a Penneys bag on top of my laundry for three days. I might as well open them since my son won't be up before noon.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. yellojkt, I just posted a flying story on your FOMA blog. Happy Father's Day.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 18, 2006 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Happy Father's Day!

Posted by: Error Flynn | June 18, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

It's probably too late to use today, but I have a great breakfast recipe for you that I'd never heard of before the other day, when we had it at a friend's house. It is called "tomato gravy" and you serve it ladled over chunks of artisan bread or foccacia. To die for. The recipe below includes 1/2 cup red wine, which my friend says is necessary to sweeten the tomatoes, per Alton Brown on FoodTV. I've since looked up some other recipes for it, but none look nearly as good as this one. Some variations use buscuits instead of the artisan bread. Whatever. Enjoy!

Tomato Gravy (breakfast dish, serves 4)

4 strips (about 4" each) thick bacon (Apple-Maple smoked recommended, but any will do)
2 cans (12 oz.) diced tomatoes (recommend Hunt's)
½ onion, sliced up about ½-inch
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic
Fresh herbs: cilantro, dill, lovage (if available), Italian thyme or lemon thyme
Powdered herbs: cumin (1/2 teaspoon), allspice (1/2 teaspoon), oregano (to taste, ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon)
½ cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh-grated parmesan cheese
2-3 tablespoons flour
Milk, 10 oz. (use empty tomato can until nearly full, leave 1 inch at top) (Lactaid is OK for lactose-intolerant)
Extra virgin olive oil (1 tbl.)
One loaf artisan bread or foccacia

In a wok or large, deep frying/saute pan cook the bacon (dice it first, or just cook it then crumble it); set aside. Wipe out pan with paper towel (but don't wash). Add olive oil, sauté onions, garlic, celery. Add bacon, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, fresh herbs and powdered herbs, and red wine. Cook about 10 minutes. Put milk in tomato can and add flour slowly, stirring to make a sauce. When flour is dissolved in milk, add to pan and stir. Let simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Cut artisan bread into large, thick slices and toast lightly. If using foccacia, slice or tear into pieces and toast. When bread is lightly toasted, tear by hand into bite-size chunks. Choice of bread is highly variably, but recommend something with lots of whole grain, dark, etc. (something with character). Another variation is to use biscuits. Whatever bread is used, put equivalent of a slice or two on each plate, and ladle tomato gravy over it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 18, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SCC: biscuits

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 18, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Happy Father's Day! This reminds me, I should call my Dad, which I'm reluctant to do, not that we have a bad relationship, we just don't have much of one. I have a few good memmories of my Dad growing up, mostly when we went on vacations. Yellowstone Park, Big Bend Texas, canoe trip in Algonquin where I was eaten alive by misquitoes, florida, Minnisota, West Virginia all wilderness camping/backpacking trips. Much suffering involved, blisters on feet, sore cramping legs and back, rainy days stuck in tent, cold, hunger and bugs. Looking back on it, its not so bad, we 3 kids survived, and that's what camping is all about. The best I'll ever do for my kids is an overnight picnic table and fire pit.
My Dad is far from a Hallmark Father. I sometimes wunder if he even cares if my brother, sister, or i give him a call today. He never calls or writes an e-mail to his kids or 12 grandkids on birthdays or Christmas, which I have a hard time accepting. I don't think he likes kids. My brother, sister and I used to fight over who got to sit next to Mom at dinner or church, but it wasn't that, It was a fight about the unlucky one who had to sit next to Dad. I vowed, that when I had kids, that this would never happen in my family, and it hasn't. We have a flexible seating arrangement at dinner and my kids will call "next to Daddy", especially when Mommy cooks their favorite meal so they can snitch food off my plate.
Mudge, great story once again. this time non-fiction. however, my eyes got a little wet at church today because I thought about how I will never be able to play catch with my sons. How can I be considered a good Father if I never played baseball with my sons? Then I heard about the Nats game that I didn't take them to. Tell you what though, in 7 years my oldest son will be 16, and if he wants to drive a car, he'll have to take me to my favorite fishing hole and we'll be bringing beer.
Gotta go now. i have to motivate the kids to clean the house for Brother, sister, Mother, 12 rugrats under 14. The party is at my house and funny thing - I was the last to know.

Posted by: Pat | June 18, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Call him anyway, Pat. He may not deserve it, but you do (i.e., you'll feel better, even if he might not). As a side benefit you can drive him crazy: put all 12 of the rugrats on, one at a time.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | June 18, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Just finished my second bike ride of the weekend, with ScienceKid #1. We saw a badger, and crossed bridges, and practiced starting a bike from a standing start. I think we had fun.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 18, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the comment on my blog, 'mudge. kb left one too. I have my own mini-boodle going.

I have never played baseball with my kid either. Lack of interest on his part and lack of athletic drive on mine. I was assistant den leader for four years, which is the lowest position you can have in Scouting and still wear the spiffy uniform.

You have to find your own bonding moments. Last year, my son and I built a computer out of parts he mail ordered. The geek version of restoring an old car.

For his birthday, I bought him a 300gb hard drive so he could store more fan-subtitled anime.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I was the one who played catch with my kid. My 6-foot tall, 300 pound, with arms like ham hocks husband threw so hard that I was afraid he'd take the kid's arm off. And it was a way to spend some time with my kid. So I was the one who got beaned and fell to the ground in a heap. It was my fault - I had been fooling around in some fashion, not paying attention, so I didn't see the ball coming. I remember thinking, I hope I don't die - that would be too sad! I don't think I even had a bump on my head, which I suppose says something about me...

Posted by: mostlylurking | June 18, 2006 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Pat... try as I can I can't think of a thing that my dad DID with us.. play catch, do scouts, all that. But he was always THERE and that's what's important. He was a huge part of my life.

Of course, I can remember us all piled in my parents' bed watching TV, climbing all over dad as little kids, his coming out of the bathroom every morning with shaving cream on his face singing his little song about "tickling little goils."

Then as older kids he was always at the dinner table (often at lunch, too, as he sold real estate and was in and out of the house all day). He did come to the pool with us to swim every once in a while. But my memories are just of him loving me and caring for me and the advice and help he's given me (still does!) along the way. We had fun together as a family and he was a big reason for that. Your kids have that from you. That's all that matters.

I mean they fight over who gets to steal your food! Just think how many people here grew up afraid of their dads? That's the biggest heartbreak of all, I think.

Posted by: TBG | June 18, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Your "why my dad flys" story worked out great, yellojkt. Hope you sent it to your dad.

Posted by: nellie | June 18, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I intend to let my dad find it on his own. He lurks on my blog about twice a week. He'll run across it sooner or later. That's the sort of passive-aggressive relationship I have with him.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 18, 2006 6:44 PM | Report abuse

My dad turned us all onto reading at an early age by buying comic books (for himself) every week and then bringing them home from work on Friday.

A few fights over who would get to read what is a very good motivation to read and it probably kept us busy long enough for some parental peace ;).

Now he has a collection of thousands of comic books, mostly Gladstone Disney comics.

Yeah, he can read big books without pictures, but heck, we all need to stay in tune with what we LIKE sometimes.

Comic books: the overlooked gateway to literacy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | June 18, 2006 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Grand kids are here, and we're already into it. One of the boys turned the stove on to fix noodles, (gas stove) and had the knob turned all the way down meaning the gas smell is strong in the house. I'm going to have to stay on my toes, so that means I'll be sleeping light. They growing so fast, even the little one. We have a busy week ahead, so I'll probably check in when I can catch my breath. Hope everyone had a good day.

Posted by: Cassandra S | June 18, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I have tried to think of how to describe what my dad did for me as a child, but it's hard. He spent many hours explaining things to me, often things I had no way of being able to understand. An early example was jet propulsion--I think I remember that because it's not that hard a subject and I almost did understand what he was talking about. I remember when I asked him to teach me how to tell time (probably I was six). He launched into a lengthy monologue about the history of measurement--I'm sure he talked about the English system and the metric system and longitude and latitude and probably the shape of the Earth's orbit before he was done. I remember being a little exasperated with him that day.

I learned how to tell time later, in school, with worksheets that had drawings of little clocks on them. But from him, I learned how not to be afraid of new ideas and unfamiliar information. And because of him, almost nothing I came across in school was entirely new territory. I'd been introduced to every subject already. Because of him I always believed, and still believe that there's nothing I can't learn. That's a great gift.

P.S. Dad finished the big bike ride across Oklahoma yesterday--with flying colors, and none the worse for wear (it's okay to use cliches on Father's Day, right?) I spoke to him today and I think he still had some endorphins circulating.

Happy Fathers Day, everybody!

Posted by: kbertocci | June 18, 2006 8:07 PM | Report abuse

A very happy Father's Day to all the fathers here.

I spent the weekend with my folks to celebrate their 60th anniversary and saw a lot of the folks who helped raise me. People from the neighborhood, people from Scouts, and people from church. There are a lot of intersections between and among those groups and I am so very grateful to count all of them as my advisors, mentors, and friends. Our family went on a lot of camping and canoeing trips both by ourselves and with our friends.

We, as a family, took a couple of camping trips from DC to Colorado and a couple from DC to eastern Canada. I don't think any of us would trade any of those trips for a thing.

Posted by: pj | June 18, 2006 8:22 PM | Report abuse

OK, so 915 miles of road-warrioring later, I'm back, and will post the Sunday column now and in the morning post a quick mini-travelogue. Good news is, I survived the
"NAFTA highway."

I hope everyone has had a fantastic father's day weekend.

Posted by: Achenbach | June 18, 2006 8:27 PM | Report abuse

i'm baaaaaaaaaaaackkkkkkkkkk!! panama was WONDERBAR!!! sorry i missed the "rove storm" (hah! not!)

i didn't have a father so i gave mom a hearty happy father's day (she played the double role)...

'mudge - 'tis ok that the Nats beat my yanks - congrats to them! i'm a die hard fan so i'm with them rain or shine...

trying to catch up on the boodles - i'll also have a panama write-up soon... so much to do!

MISSED YOU GUYS! (happy belated bday cass!)

Posted by: mo | June 19, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

mo, you're two boodles behind!!

Posted by: SonofCarl | June 19, 2006 6:25 PM | Report abuse

it takes some time to remember my own stories. it'll take some time to sort through these stories. gotta put them on note cards. indexed. neatly organized

it's raining and sunday.

Posted by: 6billionghosts | June 25, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

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