Saturday, September 20, 2008

It seems to be birthday season

In just the past several days we have celebrated Eileen, Kirstin, Mimi, and Ruth. (Apologies to any I have unintentionally slighted.)

Had he lived, my father would be celebrating his 100th birthday tomorrow, 21 September 2008.

It seems I cannot let this milestone pass by.

Dad grew up on the family farm in Kingsburg. He was the eldest child and had lots of responsibilities, as Grandfather was often away working in construction (or as a logger) to help pay for the farm. Dad was always hyper-responsible.

Here is a photo of Dad as a young sailor. When he was younger than this he had the most amazing (almost frightening) head of hair, with his high forehead and a pompadour that rose way above it. I now resemble him more in his latter years, with less and less hair on top.

As noted in the Kingsburg nostalgia post, Dad was born and raised in that small Swedish farming community. He was senior class president at Kingsburg High School (go Vikings!) in 1927 and also starred in the senior class play. That was the end of his formal education.

Father was a very bright man. His two loves were aviation and electronics. If you had something with vacuum tubes in it, he was the go-to guy for repairs and tinkering. I remember him using a ring of coiled wires to de-Gauss the television periodically, something he did with the flair of a born ritualist. I doubt he considered that I may have gotten that touch of priestcraft legitimately from him, Swedish Baptist roots notwithstanding.

Dad rebuilt, and built, small aircraft and loved to fly. He met Lindberg when he was young. I, alas, invariably got airsick and thus was loathe to acommpany him in the air, though looking down at the world from above was very exciting. Dad always felt safe in very small planes and uncomfortable in airliners. I was the opposite.

When I was three years old, Father taught me to read using my alphabet blocks and simple phonetics. By the time I arrived at kindergarten I was already reading my comic books, including the publishing data, copyright notices, and fine print in the ads. If it had text, I read it. I will forever be grateful to Dad for introducing me to the magic of symbolic communication.

One of Dad's early memories was of an old man walking down the main street in Kingsburg banging two short pieces of pipe together. He was announcing the end of the Great War. (For you youngsters, that's WWI.)

May we soon all bang pipes together with the same motive.

Happy birthday, Dad!
--the BB

1 comment:

susan s. said...

What lovely memories of a man like many of his day...self-educated and ready to help you. Yes, happy birthday to your dad! Of course I think I am late in reading this, but what's new on that front?