David Bruce: Fathers Anecdotes

Briefly, Jay Leno was a member of the Boy Scouts. His scoutmaster was determined to get parents involved in the organization, although many of them did not want to get involved. The scoutmaster even gave Jay’s father a bunch of merit badges and asked for help in administering tests and giving the merit badges out to the scouts. Reluctant to be involved, Jay’s father asked the scouts, “What kind of tree is that over there?” Because apples were hanging from the tree’s branches, they quickly identified the tree, and Jay’s father started handing five or six merit badges to each scout — including merit badges that had nothing to do with tree identification. When the scoutmaster saw the merit badges being wore by the scouts, he angrily started ripping them off the scouts’ uniforms. Shortly thereafter, Jay stopped being a scout.

As a teenager, future Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went on dates that were not like the typical dates of today’s American girls. Although she had moved to the United States as a girl, Ms. Albright was born in Czechoslovakia, and her father followed old-world ideas about dating. He would let Ms. Albright’s boyfriend drive her to wherever the date would happen, but he followed them in his own car and went on the date with them. After the date was over, he drove his daughter home while her boyfriend followed them in his car, then Mr. Albright invited her boyfriend in for milk and cookies. Needless to say, Ms. Albright didn’t keep boyfriends for long. (Nevertheless, she did get married and gave birth to three daughters.)

Sometimes, fathers and stepfathers turn out to be feminists because their daughters or stepdaughters want to do something other people don’t want them to do. As a teenager, Sandy Smith wanted to ride bulls in the rodeo. Many cowboys would say things such as, “Girls can’t ride bucking stock.” However, her stepfather told her, “Sandy, at your age a girl’s coordination is as good as a guy’s. Don’t take any lip from them — they’re just afraid you’re going to show them up.” Young Sandy did as she wished and rode bucking bulls in rodeos.

The father of Seattle Mariner Alex Rodriguez left his family when Alex was young, but fortunately Alex’ best friend’s father, J.D. Arteaga, Sr., watched over him. Mr. Arteaga recognized young Alex’ baseball talent when Alex was 11 years old, and he helped take good care of him, including taking him to games and buying him baseball equipment. In fact, Mr. Arteaga died of a heart attack while watching his son and Alex play 10th grade football. Mr. Rodriguez says, “He was the father I didn’t have. Everything he gave to his son, he gave to me.”

When Ruthie, the nine-year-old daughter of Quaker humorist Tom Mullen, had a bike accident that resulted in six stitches in her chin, Mr. Mullen was surprised that she didn’t cry. He was further surprised when Ruthie told the doctor, “My daddy told me once when I was hurt not to be a crybaby!” Worried that he might have taught her the wrong thing, Mr. Mullen explained that it is OK to cry when you have an accident that requires six stitches. Ruthie listened, then told her father, “It’s all right, daddy. You can cry if you want to.”

The biological father of country comedian Jerry Clower was an alcoholic who abandoned his family. Once, Mr. Clower was criticizing his father when a black woman who was doing the ironing told him, “Boy, you’d better not criticize your daddy. The Bible says to honor your father and your mother. They’re the ones that birthed you. It don’t say honor your father and your mother if they don’t drink whiskey. It just says honor your father and mother.”

When performance artist Nicky Paraiso was in his third year at New York University, he played the part of a homicidal maniac in the play Boy in the Straight-Backed Chair by Ronald Tavel. As his character killed actors on stage, he could hear his father in the audience telling people, “That’s my son! He’s the star!”

When Maria Montessori became interested in education, she wished to study a book by Edouard Séguin about disabled children. She hunted for the book in Rome, but could not find it. Finally an old, dirty, musty copy was found in New York. Before allowing her to read the book, her father disinfected it.

Comedian Rita Rudner’s father was very good at making Rita’s mother hurry when he was anxious to go somewhere. He would yell “P.C.U.,” which stood for “Pulling the Car Out.” At that point, he was ready to leave without her, and she would have to finish putting on her makeup in the car.

When Steven Spielberg was six years old, his father, Arnold, who was a scientist, woke him up late at night to see a meteor shower. This experience stayed with young Steven, and as an adult, he placed lights streaking across the sky in a scene of his movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The father of professional baseball player Ernie Banks worked hard to give his son a chance to make it big. When Mr. Banks signed his first contract to play professional ball with the Chicago Cubs, he sent this telegram to his father: “WE DID IT!”

Pro basketball player Michael Jordan sometimes sticks his tongue out while playing hard on the basketball court. This is a habit he picked up from his father, who sometimes stuck out his tongue as he worked in his yard and house.

Comedian Pat Henning once toured England, then many years and a toupee later, toured England again. The toupee did its job — theater managers told him that he was much funnier than his father had been.

A.E.P. Wall of the Catholic Review once received a letter bearing the salutation, “Dear Father Wall.” He sent the letter back with this notation: “I cannot be a Father. I have three children.”

Ed Sullivan once asked vocalist Jack Jones, “Wasn’t Alan Jones your father?” Jack replied, “He still is.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Good Fathers

“Daughters of Reddit Who Have a Great Relationship with Their Father, What Did He Do Raising You that Enabled Your Relationship to Stay Close to This Day?”

1) Podaroo wrote this:

“My dad is the best. It’s hard to put a finger on why or how, but here are some concrete things that he did that I think would work across the board:

“He read to us. When my sister and I were little, both of our parents read to us a lot. But my dad had a ritual where he’d read us a chapter (or two) of a book every night. We read The Hobbit, a biography of the mathematician and electrical engineer Charles Steinmetz, The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs, Just So Stories, so many Doctor Dolittle books … It was great. Not only did it foster a love of reading in both of us, but there are passages of certain books that I still hear in my father’s voice, with the sense memory of snuggling up warm against him in my parents’ big bed and feeling the vibrations of his voice in his chest.

“He was kind. He wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t always patient, and sometimes he lost his temper, but he was gentle and he was nice. That goes a long way.

“He obviously loves and respects our mother. Not every marriage is as happy as theirs is, but I think that even if things are sh[*]tty, you can try to model behaviors like listening to your partner/co-parent, keeping any intra-parental conflicts out of children’s view, and generally giving your children a sense that they are the product of two good people who are really happy that they’re here.

“He was honest. Obviously, how honest and about what depends on the ages of your children. But he would always answer any questions I brought to him, and when I brought up topics that in retrospect were maybe a little embarrassing or alarming, he’d treat them like perfectly reasonable things for a dad to be talking about with his daughter. Be it bad gas or bisexuality or overly adult literature.

“He made time for us. My dad and I went for a walk together every night when I was in high school. Summer or winter, rain (or snow) or shine. Sometimes we’d just go around the block. It was nice.

“We ate dinner together. Every night at dinner we’d talk about things we were reading or what we were doing in school or even the weather. We had a set of encyclopedias, and my sister and I would look things up to settle arguments. It was nice. 

“We did things together. My dad’s very musical, and so’s my sister. They’d play the piano and sing in the evening, and sometimes I’d play, too. I played stand-up bass and my sister plays violin, so we’d play string quartets with my dad covering the other two parts on the piano. We’d go outside and look at planets through his telescope. He taught me how to program and my sister how to take photographs. Looking back, it feels like he involved us in pretty much all of his hobbies.

“He was there. One of the things I loved as a kid was the feeling of all of us in the house, doing our own thing. We had school and activities, and both our parents worked and were involved in local politics and other things, but even if we weren’t together all the time, when I look back it feels like we were. I think the trick is having those touchstones like dinner and books and walks that add up to a feeling of unity.

“And don’t worry if you make mistakes. I was far from a perfect kid, and I’m far from a perfect adult. Sometimes I wish my parents had been stricter with me, and like anyone I have memories of them saying things that hurt or were unfair. But don’t get bogged down in that. Go for the broad strokes. Try to be good to your daughters. Let them know that you love them for who they are. Be there when they need you, as much as you can. You’ll do fine.”

2) helluvabella wrote this:

“I love my dad. He has always been my hero and now he is one of my closest friends (I’m 30). I think there are a lot of reasons, but I think the most important is how we communicate(d). He never talked down to me and always encouraged open conversation about topics. He was my homework help, we did science experiments together including brewing beer, which I thought was so cool at 8, we talked about current events and watched the news together … and he always considered my opinion … to this day, if I have a hard issue at work or in my personal life, he is always my sounding board and I value his advice over anyone. He takes the time to learn about what is important to me. I have a hobby he didn’t know anything about and he asks all kinds of questions so we can talk about it. I will be totally honest, though, in that much of my respect for my dad is because he is an outstanding human. He has a PhD and two masters degrees. He was a true Indiana Jones archeologist until I was born (he didn’t want to travel that much), so he became a futures trader and took my mom and me on the majority of his business trips. He is thoughtful and kind and a wonderful teacher. We always did charity work together when I was growing up and now that he is retired he works with a number of charities. One of my best memories with him is when I (now also in finance) had just taken my first CFA exam and he and I sat and shared a great brandy. It was the first time I felt like his equal and that was worth every ounce of work I had ever done. 

“I could talk about my dad forever, but if people reading this have one take away it’s that, regardless of how smart he is, he always treats people with kindness and does his best to meet them on whatever level they are at intellectually when having a conversation. I think kids are smarter than they get credit for and being talked to like an adult, but using language and concepts they understand, will make the relationship you have long term better.”

3) HAPPY_FLAPPY_BUTT wrote this:

“My dad adored my mom. I loved my mommy and thus I loved everyone else who loved her, too! I loved how he would always go out of his way to make her feel special. Peas in a pod they were. He loved talking about her and would include me in secret plans to make her happy. That made me feel really good, really safe. Their love for one another overflowed and filled up the whole house. Home was a loving safe place where mistakes were learning tools and people were loved for being themselves. 

“As for my father/daughter relationship, it was just filled with neat little things that were just between us. Midnight chats, power tools, using a t-shirt as a message board, and he would cry laughing from my stupid jokes. He made me feel like I was capable of something uniquely special. And he truly believed I was talented and one-of-a-kind. He was my biggest cheerleader! He believed I could do ANYTHING! 

“I gave his eulogy, about five years ago. I wish he could have met my sons. 

“E: My Dad would be telling all his friends right now about how his baby girl got a ‘GOLD’ from a STRANGER on the Internet all because I wrote about him. I can hear it now: 

“‘Well, she writes comments on a website called Reddit. I guess it’s really popular. One time she wrote one of the best comments and it was about me (she exaggerates, A LOT) and it was so good that someone put a gold star by it. Those things are rare! She’s always been good at writing.’

“And then he would continue to brag about me because he loved telling strangers how awesome all his kids were. Thanks, Internet stranger! Go call your Dad before it’s too late!

“I just wrote this in a comment further down:

“Here’s a story Mom told me about him that made me cry.

“He had back surgery to fix lordosis [a curvature of the spine] and his lower vertebrae were all fused together and fused to his pelvis. So he couldn’t stand up properly and walked a bit funny. When he was dating Mom (whom he always claimed was so far out of his league), one day Mom confessed that she had to break up with him. She said she couldn’t get past how he walked and the way his back looked had just got to be a deal breaker for her.

“He took a moment … frowned … and then smiled at her and said, ‘If that’s the only thing you can find wrong with me, then you’ve just made my day!’ And he turned around and walked out on her.

“After that Mom cried for two days and realized how great he was and how stupid she was for breaking up with someone over such a superficial reason. She went and begged to have him back. They were married for almost 30 years!”

Source: Dubscitygx2, “[Serious] Daughters of Reddit who have a great relationship with their father, what did he do raising you that enabled your relationship to stay close to this day?” AskReddit. 5 February 2018




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