Father’s Day Thoughts

There will be plenty of maudlin, sentimental material about fatherhood and “dear old dad” on the air and web today. I don’t know about your dad, but mine feels uncomfortable about such notions directed towards him.

Really, what man wants to be thought of as dear old dad, Even if he’s old?  Doesn’t that conjur up images of a wizened old gramps wearing a duffer hat, puffing on a pipe as he tools down the road in a Model T Ford?  Who really knows anyone like that?  Even back in the day, my own grandfathers didn’t fit that stereotype.

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.  The stereotypical ideal of a dad was someone like Ward Cleaver,  The Beaver’s dad, or Andy Taylor, Opie’s dad.  They were a little closer to the mark, but I didn’t know anyone with a dad like them.  Certainly, my dad was nothing like either of them. 

My dad is more or less a regular guy.  That is, he’s rather conventional in thinking.  He’s a pleasant enough man.  He was fairly successful.  Like most guys, he’s hard to really pin down.  But in mannerisms, he’s easy to predict and could be considered set in his views. 

He’s a lifelong, doctrinaire member of the Republican Party.  He’s more of an Ike or Goldwater Repub than a teabagger.  He’s more along the lines of Limbaugh in view than Beck.  He’s a bit covert in his conservatism, almost as if he thinks there might be more than a little something wrongheaded and mean about such leanings.  He’s a bit puzzled how his oldest son turned out to be a free thinking liberal.  We had some rather hot political discussions back in the Vietnam war era.

Automotive transportation has been the focus of his life.  He was schooled as a civil engineer.  During his working days, dad was in charge of highway construction projects.  He designed and drafted plans for roadways, bridges, intersections and drainage including culverts.  I remember him baking soil and gravel samples and testing paint.  He also supervised state employed work crews. His watchful eye was also on the private contractors who did the heavy work.

Aside from the state issued staff cars, dad was a Buick man. His cars have always been Buicks.  The only exceptions were his first car, a Model A Ford,  and my late step-mom’s Chevy Cavalier that sits in his garage now. 

On most weekends, dad could be found in the garage with the hood raised on a Buick. It could be freezing cold or sweltering hot.  There was oil to be changed. Tuneups seemed to be a frequent event.  One thing or another seemed to need some sort of adjustment or repair on his Buicks.  What I learned about cars, I gained by watching and “helping” dad fix his Buicks. 

The one I remember best was a beige 1961 LeSabre four door hardtop.  He spent hours tinkering with that car.  I “helped” him with regular maintenance. He also once replaced heater and radiator parts.  He put on at least three different mufflers.  Washing and waxing were rituals. 

The eventual reward came, when dad taught me how to drive.  It was behind the wheel of his precious Buick.  Dad’s vision has become quite poor lately.  It was sad to see dad sell his last Buick.  It was a 1989 Park Avenue that he’d kept going with the same attention to weekend repairs that he made on his other Buicks.  Last summer, he sold it privately to a young man who is enjoying a cherry, used vehicle.

Dad has suffered through the deaths of his parents, my mom, my stepmom and my younger brother.  These losses have taken a heavy toll on his life.  There’s been some role reversal between him and me, but he still has veto power over any decisions I make on his behalf.  He has slowed down considerably, but that spark of intelligence is still present.

It will be good to spend Father’s Day with him.


The Blue Jay of Happiness salutes the memory of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington who instigated today’s holiday.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Hometown, Meanderings, Youth and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Father’s Day Thoughts

  1. Doug says:

    Your Dad and I have a bit in common. I still tinker on my 1986 Buick and keep it road worthy.
    Regular maintanence is the key for a long lasting car, and I do the majority of it myself.

    • swabby429 says:

      If he could still see properly, he’d still be driving the Park Avenue and spending time under the hood, making sure everything is up to snuff. 🙂

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