I’m still thinking about my father, who died 25 years ago. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, he was quite a character and a one-man party. Here are some of the fun things he did.
1. One year he bought us baby chicks for Easter (even though we didn’t celebrate Easter). This was really thrilling, until they started to get bigger. Then they had to leave for the “farm.” But it was a kick being the only kid on my street who had baby chicks in the house for a while.
2. He would take us with him to the race track on Saturdays to give my mother a break. He would tell us we were going to “the zoo.”
The Zoo, according to my father
3. Speaking of the racetrack, whenever my father drove the family past any of the local racetracks, he would pretend his car was being pulled through the gate against his will, and he had to wrestle it back onto the road.
4. Once we were taking a road trip on a family vacation. My father told us we weren’t going to be able to afford to stay anywhere fancy and we shouldn’t be disappointed with our humble hotel. As we were getting closer to our destination, we were approaching a Holiday Inn (which at the time was the pinnacle of hotel fashion), and I said wistfully, “Oh, I wish we could stay here.” My father immediately drove into the Holiday Inn parking lot and said, “WE CAN!” It turns out that was what he had planned all along, and I was the perfect straight man for his surprise.
5. He never got his car stuck in the snow, EVER. He claimed he had the ability to drive on top of the snow. Whenever I get crazed about my sons driving in bad weather, they assure me they have inherited the ability to drive on top of the snow.
6. Every single Sunday, he went to the deli to get lox, bagels and smoked salmon, and when I was a little girl, he always took me with him, which was such a thrill for me. He taught me how to tell the difference between water bagels and egg bagels. My mother had to make sure there were fresh tomatoes and onions, plus cream cheese, waiting at home.
7. He liked to put salt on watermelon, and his favorite dessert was a bowl of canned pears in heavy syrup, with a Tastytake chocolate cupcake in it.
8. He pronounced the word “motorcycle” as “mota-cycle.” There was no other word in which he had a New York accent like this. He also said “learner’s perMIT” instead of “PERmit.” We enjoyed making fun of him when he did this.
9. My mother was required to have grapefruit juice and Oreos on hand for my father at all times. He claimed this was part of their marriage contract.
10. When my parents got married, my mother told my father that she was never going to pick up his dirty socks from the floor. So he would put his socks in the hamper, and threw all the rest of his clothing on the floor for her to pick up.
11. My parents needed a new refrigerator, and my grandparents wanted to buy it for them as an anniversary gift. My father, of course, wanted the fanciest refrigerator he could find, and knew my grandparents could not afford that. He told them the refrigerator was about half the price he actually paid for it, so that was the amount of their gift. Then my grandparents went around telling everyone that if they needed a new refrigerator, they should call my father, because he knew how to get an amazing refrigerator for practically nothing!
12. In 1985, my parents offered to take us to Disneyworld (my then-hubby, my 4 year old and me). I made the arrangements for the hotel and planned our itinerary. I tried to be thrifty, since it was my parents’ money. When we got there, my father snorted at the rooms I had booked in the garden wing of the hotel and immediately arranged to have us move into the spectacular penthouse suite on the top floor. He complained a lot about being a slave to my itinerary, which I had carefully researched so we would get to see everything my son wanted to see. Then when my parents took the same trip with my sister and her family, my father indignantly said to her, “What? You didn’t plan an itinerary? How will we know what to do?”
13. Every Thanksgiving, he would call to make sure I was watching the Macy’s Parade. After he died, I tried to prepare myself mentally for the holidays where I would really feel the loss of him, such as Father’s Day (just a few weeks after he died), my birthday (the card signed only by my mother) and Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) family dinner with that major missing character. But I was not at all prepared for how devastated I would feel on Thanksgiving morning 1989 when that call never came.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, back when life was black and white