Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Pre-Father's Day Post

I'm being frighteningly efficient this month and posting this early. By the time this post goes live I'll be back East visiting my parents with their extremely iffy internet connection. Given their age (my father will be eighty-six in September) I suppose I should be impressed that they have internet at all. My mother can't be bothered with figuring it out but father's always loved gadgets, so I guess it's not so surprising that he gets a kick out of keeping up-to-date with things...although not quite to my must-be-connected-all-the-effing-time-or-I'll-go-crazy standards. But I guess that goes without saying.

Anyway, since it's almost Father's Day, I thought I'd write a post about my father. That's him over there on the right with my niece Casey, by the way.

 I think he's finally as gray as I am, which is a relief, frankly. I take after my mother's family. We go gray early. Almost everyone else in my family takes after my dad. Genetics do not always play fair. 'Nuff said.

My father has always been very handy and good at building things. Like houses and stuff. He built the house I grew up in...

Looks nice, huh? But I'll be posting more about that next time.

The house is in Fort Lee, New Jersey, better known (well, once upon a time, anyway) as the home of Palisade's Amusement Park.

Every summer my father ran the miniature golf concession at the park. He spent a lot of his weekends there, know, in his time off. You might think that meant that my sister and brothers and I got to hang out at the park all the time. Yeah, not so much.

On the other hand, every spring he had to re-landscape the course and he'd always bring the extra pansies home.

I always liked those...but I guess you can tell that pretty easily, huh?

My father has always worked very hard. He used to run the dress factory his parents opened in Union City, New Jersey.  That's not it in the picture below, by the way, but it is in Union City...

Anyway, my father not only ran the factory, he also maintained the building, dealt with the tenant who lived in the apartment upstairs, ran in and out of New York City several times a week picking up orders and delivering dresses, cut the dress pieces, repaired the machines, mediated the arguments that occasionally sprang up between the seamstresses...oh, and yeah, he did the payroll besides.

My first summer job, when I was fifteen, was working there with my father and grandfather. They were both early birds, so the hardest part of the job for this night owl were the hours. Six in the morning is no time to be going to work. I'm just sayin'.

The hardest part of the job for my father? That would probably be the fact that he hated the place. With a passion. For thirty years. But he went every day, five, six, sometimes seven days a week because it supported our family, my grandparents and helped support my aunts' families as well.

It was a fascinating summer though. Union City looked a lot like the set of West Side Story back then, still might for all I know, and I was introduced to all sorts of interesting new things. Things like mangoes and Cuban sandwiches, which I'd never even heard of before. See, my father loved them, but he knew my mother didn't so he never brought them home.

Actually, that was kind of unusual because he was always bringing home things that my mother probably wished he wouldn't. Things like turtles and chameleons. I know you can guess who those were for. Yes, I was a sucker for animals even then.

For years when I was a kid my family would vacation on a farm in Vermont every summer.

Despite the fact that my father always suffered from hay-fever, he loved visiting the farm. He even liked working there.

That's not the normal kind of thing most guests did, in case you were wondering. My mother would paint, us kids would play, ride horses, and generally have a good time.

 My father would have fun with the tractors and the haying. To each his own, I guess.

These days, my parents actually do live on a farm of sorts, in the wilds of Pennsylvania. My father spends a lot of time gardening. He also apparently spends a fair amount of time in the barn converting used cooking oil into bio-fuel for his use as well as several of his neighbors.

I haven't seen this operation in action yet, and I gotta say, from the pictures, it doesn't look all that attractive as an operation, but I still think it's just the coolest thing I've ever heard.

So on Thursday (or tomorrow in blog-time) he'll be getting cataract surgery. Wish him luck.


chelsea said...

You hadn't heard of mangos or cuban sandwiches? :)

PG Forte said...

nope. makes you really appreciate YOUR childhood, doesn't it? ;)

Kelly Jamieson said...

I'd *heard* of mangoes from books, but we didn't have such a thing in the town where I grew up!

Good luck to your dad, PG, and wish him a Happy Father's Day, he sounds like a great dad!

Meg Benjamin said...

Lovely post, PG. Have fun back east.

Maria said...

Great post PG! Your dad sounds like a wonderful man and I have to admire how he sacrificed what he wanted for his family (about hating the factory and not bringing home food your mom didn't like). I adore Mangoes by the way, but have never had a Cuban sandwich either. Your dad certainly has a lot of energy and get up and go - which is probably what's kept him healthy and happy over his life. I wish him "Good Luck" with his surgery and I hope you have a fantastic weekend spending time with your family celebrating Father's Day:)