Father’s Day Reflection, 2021

Fathers’ Day marks a time of remembrance. I grew up with a father who took pride in his six children. A high school education was absent from his resume. The man never had enough sleep He provided the basics to his loved while he spoke of higher expectations for his sons”I don’t want you to work as hard as I do.” Finish high school and find a paying job in the trades.” This advice echoed throughout the “Back of the Yards, ” an area in Chicago so named because it was located south of the stock yards of Chicago) households.

Dad counseled counseled his daughters,(well at least to me) to find a husband who was capable of providing for me and our family. This speech echoed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. I am the first born child, the prototype. Perhaps my siblings’ reflections on Fathers’ Day portrays another reality.

My father, a man who wanted his children to work hard and make a better life for themselves educationally and financially reflected his desire for his children to succeed. Is this a sad remembrance? His unique laugh and tenderness towards my mother revealed his softness..

He was short-tempered in his younger years. I attribute this anger on his years of minimal sleep. It was in my early twenties when my father got the job of his dream, a Chicago “Garbage Man.” The workerrode on the back of the truck, rain, snow, and the miserable humid heat of the summer. The cans lifted into truck by the men. (The automated lifts appeared after his retirement.)

Never owned a car until the 1970s. The family walked everywhere, rode the bus, or a friend or family member would “pick up all eight of us.

When I possessed his undivided attention, usually on the seven block walk from my grandmother’s bakery, he bestowed wisdom. The times being alone with my dad revealed his pride in me, but would add “you can do better.” Thiis phrase he imprinted in my DNA. Harsh? Perhaps, but it made me feel he saw potential. Dad wanted more for me because he noticed my grit and ability.

Thanks “Daddy!” I listened, observed and learned.


Twenty-First Century Summers

This happy, harmonious 1950’s song from the musical Oklahoma celebrated warmer days, gorgeous blooming flowers, and the opening of parks. Today, the media reports an America on fire, unruly demonstrators, shootings at workplaces, from cars, and between neighbors. What does Summer mean to you?

The 20th Century summer time offered Americans an opportunity to enjoy living easy, watching June Bugs, fireflies, and swinging in a hammock with a glass of lemonade. Hide and seek at dusk, neighbors sitting or swinging on the porch. Card games, checkers, or board games brought on laughter, shouts of joy or groans of loss.

Air conditioning, cable TV, electronic games, give neighbors cool comfort and entertainment. Living easy today depends on comfort and convenience. Heaven forbid if the electricity goes out. Many of us avoid walking, let alone strolling through our neighborhoods as the sun goes down. If we want a better nation, we need to focus on the gifts of summer.

Yes, the days are hot! Air conditioning is a must for our health and our comfort. We need to look for ways to teach our children the joys of summer. The crack of a ball against a bat brings smiles and a sense of satisfaction. A walk through your neighborhood. Take a journey to a safe green spot and take in the sights, sounds, and smells.

A slow stroll through a park with your children or loved one sets a stage for conversations. Ask your partner or children to tell you their choices of sights that make them happy.

Create an ice cream social at home by buying ice cream cones and filling them with your favorite and a few of your families favorite of the cold, creamy taste. Go all out and create a “sundae” gathering. Be brave and ask your neighbor to join you in the joy of the cool taste of a cone or sundae smothered in chocolate, caramel or strawberry syrup.

Neighbors respond to other neighbors who simply say “Hello” to them. If you live in an apartment building, don’t be afraid to say “Hello” with a smile.

Courtesy, kindness, and listening contribute to understanding. Enjoy June’s welcoming of summer and the genuine beauty in our lives.