Salute to my Father….on Daddy’s Day
June 17, 2011

This was on my sister's wedding day...so proud!

He was a pretty quiet man, not by any standards loquacious….he never hit me or my three sisters(that I remember), he never raised his voice(though his looks could mean business), and he loved a good joke.

That's him on the right...I looked just like him as a toddler...

He was one of three boys… never went to college….finished high school in Birmingham Alabama, and after coming home from WWII, went to work in his own back yard. I mean that literally, American Cast Iron Pipe Company was a block down the street from where he grew up…a street that was gritty from the cinders that flew from the furnace that melted and molded cast iron pipe. He worked there until he retired…..over 50 years at one company….can you imagine?

In World War II, he, like so many others, enlisted after D-Day….he and my Mom married quickly…(hey, it was war-time and why not get a little lovin’ in before who knows what happens!). He traveled all around the world as an M.P. My Mother told us a story when we were adults(my Father would never mention such a thing) about when my Dad was stationed in India….he passed by an alley in Bombay, in which a soldier had his fly open and a little Indian boy was……to use the proper term… fellating the soldier. The boy had tears running down his cheeks. Some MPs might have looked the other way…hey, a war is on and this is trouble I don’t need…but not my Dad. He arrested the guy and threw him in the brig, pronto. Good on you, man.

A man and his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses....

Some of you may remember this wonderful picture of my parents,  and the story of my Dad and how he obtained  his beloved Ray-Ban aviator glasses from this prior post….the pic was taken on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana where he was stationed…and my Mom followed and worked at the airfield. I love that story.

My Daddy guarded this plane....

And perhaps because he was such a straight arrow(?), he was one of the men who guarded the famous, or infamous Enola Gay airplane…which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He and his squadron were flown to the tiny island of Tianan in the Pacific, from which practice and the real runs were staged. My Dad had no idea what they were guarding, or what was so special about the plane at the end of the runway, all by itself…they only knew NO ONE was to get close to it. I never knew how he felt about being indirectly related to an event that killed so many people. I wish I had asked, but there it is. I didn’t. And he wasn’t one to speak of such things.

He came home…still a simple guy who went to work every day, raised his kids, put all three of us through college, never left us and was a good husband…did pretty much everything my Mom told him to :)….and he loved fishing and swimming in his beloved Smith Lake. He died of Parkinson’s Disease, certainly not the way any of us would have chosen for him, nor he for himself… but he was pretty stoic about the whole thing. I only remember him saying once, “I can’t even wipe my own butt“.

Here’s to you my Father…lots of men could learn a thing a two about service, about loyalty, about kindness, and about being a dad, and a man. He got it right, all the way to the end.

Hope all of you celebrate your dads this weekend….especially those who deserve it. Call him…take him out to lunch…let him know you love him while he’s still around. Make it a great day and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Looking back at two legends….
June 26, 2009

This is how I will remember her....

This is how I will remember her....

OK, let me just say, it was one of the heartbreaks of my young life that I did not look like Farrah Fawcett. Look at her in her prime…..LOOK AT HER!  And while it was her blonde, big smile beauty, without question,  that made her a star…to her credit, she went on to also become a serious, Emmy Nominated  actress. She lived her life in the public eye, with a great deal of grace and poise, for the most part. Sure there was the occasional stumble like on David Letterman’s show that time…still not sure what that was about…but she always seemed like a genuinely nice Texas girl, who also happened to be one of the world’s great beauties.  And her documentary Farrah’s Story, watched by 9 million people that night, was a tour de force(if you missed it you can watch it here on Hulu and it’s also airing again tonight on WBAL at 9 pm)….an unflinching look at what it’s like fighting cancer. See her without her hair? Sure no problem. Throwing up in a pan? Bring it. Farrah was in the end a brave, tough lady. R.I.P. F.F.

Now, Michael Jackson. There’s a “complicated” legend for you.  And it would seem the redefining of the life has already begun. As announcers, news anchors and commentators kind of tiptoe around the untidy later portion of his life(see? I’m tiptoeing too…), referring to his “weird” life, appearance and “choices”…Vanity Fair’s Maureen Orth,  the late, great Tim Russert’s widow…pretty much said out loud this morning on NBC’s The Today Show, what a lot of people have been thinking, and saying privately. She referred to the victims of Michael Jackson….two boys…the only ones who accused him publicly of child sexual abuse.  One he settled with out of court, reportedly a multi-million dollar settlement…and of the other….the reporter said, “He was exonerated in that trial“. Orth said, “He was exonerated largely on the basis of his celebrity, and a very good lawyer who managed to put the Mother of the boy on trial.” I remember that….the questions were asked…if you thought your little boy was being abused, why did you let him go to stay at MJ’s house? Bad mother, bad!  Good question and possibly she was a mother with questionable motives(hey, parents exploiting their kids ain’t nothing new, alas-check out the breaking news of the Duke University official and his 5 year old adopted son), but it still doesn’t change the fact the child said he was sexually abused by MJ. Most experts agree, kids don’t make this stuff up.  What made the man as peculiaras he was? Carlton Munson, Ph/D,  at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and an expert in child psychology has researched the impact of trauma on great artists in our time. He said this, “Often, children who grow up as entertainers and on movie sets as adults have a hard time distinguishing between what they do and who they are.”

So what remains of the legend? For those of us who grew up loving his music, his life doesn’t change the fact that he was a brilliant musician who made a huge, lasting impact on the music world…but it sure shades it.