Thinking of Dad

Sometimes I KNOW I’ve taken a photo; I just can’t find it. It’s been a long time since I went wading through the boxes of prints and negatives that are stored in Wife Lila’s domain in the dining room buffet. She’s the custodian of “family” photos. Most of my pictures are of strangers.

My search came up empty, but I did find this envelope of color negatives taken in the special summer of 1976.

Looks like Son Matt was about a year old. Brother David and Diane got married. We went to Kentucky Lake and down to Dutchtown where Steinhoff & Kirkwood kept their construction equipment. You can click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

I’m jumping the gun a little on the formal holiday, but every day is Father’s Day when the memories wash over you.

Riding the mailbox

Matt’s not sure he likes the idea of riding the mailbox in front of the house on Kingsway.

Ears make convenient handles

Matt’s trying to figure out what those funny things are sticking out of the side of Dad’s head.

Dutchtown “garden”

Part of the land at Dutchtown was set aside for a garden and small orchard. The floods have gradually wiped out all of the fruit trees.

Not your normal Tonka toy

One of the cool things about about having a dad in the construction business was getting to play on the real version of what other kids had in plastic. OSHA would probably take a dim view of this, but we thought it was normal play. You have to admit that not many grandmothers get a chance to do this, either.

An appreciation for different vantages

As you can see, if you were in our family, you learned an appreciation for different vantage points.

Were we really that young?

Where have the years gone? Wife Lila and I are twice as old as we were when these photos were taken. One minute you’re holding a toddler; the next you’re cashing your Social Security check. (Which that toddler is contributing to.)

Not quite ready to drive yet

You wonder if a child this young has any real memories of this or if they’re based on photographs and family stories.

Not sure about hay bales

This shed was used to store lumber and bales of hay. Matt doesn’t look like he cares much for sitting on stickery hay bales. Or, he might be trying to figure out if you’re supposed to eat the straw.

Good pepper crop

The pepper crop looks pretty good, but Matt is more interested in an apple.

Trailer on Kentucky Lake

Dad and Mother had a trailer over at Kentucky Lake. There was a bass boat for Dad to use for fishing and a ski boat for hauling Brothers Mark and David around. I skied a few times, but decided that wasn’t my idea of a fun afternoon.

Dad is introducing Matt to the finer points of cane pole fishing.

Duck feeding is more his speed

Matt seems to hope that Pringles will be sufficient to keep hungry ducks at bay.

This, my grandson, is a fish

This sequence maybe gives a clue to why Matt doesn’t eat seafood to this day.

What’s this thing taste like?

Am I supposed to put it in my mouth?

OK, I’m done with fish

It don’t take me long to look at a fish. I’m done.

Dressed for the wedding

Dad always wore clean and pressed work clothes, even when he was headed to a dirty job on a construction site. He looked good in a suit, too. I don’t, however,  recall seeing him dressed like this many times. The occasion was Brother David’s wedding.

A pensive look

Those sideburns are creeping down pretty far. I guess it was the influence of Mark, whose hair was so long that I gave him a bumper sticker that said, “I’m a Boy.”

Mother and Dad together

They made quite the couple.

Mark, when he had hair

I’m glad he enjoyed it while he had a chance to.

David and Diane

Sister-in-Law Diane looks just like she did as a bride. David, fortunately, DOESN’T look like he did on his wedding day.

Bittersweet memories

A year later, I learned a hard lesson: better pile up all the memories you can when you have the chance.

We had planned to go back to Cape in July of 1977, but my new job as director of photography at The Palm Beach Post got in the way. I had to postpone our vacation a couple of weeks to get the next year’s operating budget out of the way.

Dad was going to use the extra time to build a sandbox for Matt at Kentucky Lake. He must have been carrying a sandbag when he had a massive heart attack. He was 60.

I’m sorry that he didn’t have a chance to see how his grandsons turned out. He’d have been proud of them.

Sorry for indulging in a little more family history than I had intended.

19 Replies to “Thinking of Dad”

  1. Thanks, Kenny.

    You’re dad must have been a very special man… I only spent one day with him ( I was dating Dee Voss at the time…go figure.) But he made it a GREAT day…knew the name (in business, he said) but didn’t personally know my father. But they seemed so alike in many ways. I know all the places (Kentucky Lake (didn’t know the reason you weren’t there that summer) Dutchtown when there was thousands of tomatoes, peppers, fruit trees and even strawberries…) and Matt was so young!!

    My dad passed away at 62…God robbed this world of two wonderful beings in their prime. I hope all of our friends appreciate their fathers for lessons learned and just great stories and fun times had. Thanks for sharing LV….

  2. Oh, Ken, this is a wonderful tribute to fathers, grandfathers and your dad in particular. I have a photo of my own son Matthew in diapers, helping wash my old ’79 Chevy. You’ve inspired me to find it.
    I never knew either of my grandfathers, and my children lost theirs early. Sadly, my husband didn’t live to see our grandchildren, either. He died at 56.
    We take so much for granted.

  3. Good times. Thanks for the walk down the family path. It’s rather daunting how much a kid can pick up just by watching someone else. Like how to ‘set” a finishing nail properly, how to check the “gap’ on a spark plug and how to deal fairly with other people. Dad was good if not smart to always stand so I could get a front-row view of what he was doing and I learned a lot from just watching him fix, tinker and re-invent things.

    But this story illustrates what I think I learned from him the most. He had a large piece of construction equipment for sale and had found a buyer for it. They agreed on a price and it was x number of dollars. The day came for the prospective buyer to pay for the piece of equipment, the huge machine was already loaded on a 18-wheeler trailer to be delivered to the buyer. Time came for the buyer to show up and he arrived on the Dutchtown property in his private helicopter. He got out, looked at the machinery on the trailer one more time and went inside to sign the check for it. Once inside he said as filling out the check, “Now the amount is for $000,000. Right?” The amount he quoted was less than they had talked about. Dad said, “The price is $000,000 as we agreed on.” The prospective buyer replied, “Yes, but I’m here now to write you a check for this amount and I see you have already loaded it up to be shipped to me, so I’m offering you this amount instead.” Without blinking an eye, Dad reached for the intercom button and said, “Pee-Wee, unload the truck.” The prospective buyer’s face went blank and he said, “What are you doing?” to which Dad replied, “The amount we agreed on was $000,000, no more no less. That was the deal.” The prospective buyer apologized and offered to pay the full price they agreed on, but Dad refused his second full offer. The guy couldn’t understand what just happened, at his own expense. Dad broke it down for him, “We agreed on a price that both of us thought was fair. Then you came here and tried to buy it for less thinking that I would take your offer just because you were ready to write a check and because I had gone to the time to have it loaded up. We agreed on a price, I honored it, you didn’t.”

    What did I learn from that? When Dad said something, you could bank on it. If he said he would go camping with us, he would go rain or shine. At the point he said he would do something for you, you knew he would be there on time and ready to start. He honored is word.

  4. Wow! Great photos! Actually had me bleary eyed. Wish I had more photos of my dad. Sadly he died before video cameras were affordable, too. I know you have a cool mom but looks like you had a cool dad as well.

  5. Wonderful article today! You never disappoint me. My Dad died in 1975 at the age of 53 and missed out on all his grandkids but 3 and they were too little to remember him. Today, he would have had 19 grandkids and 8 great-grandkids. He was a jolly man and I think of him everyday and wish he was here to enjoy all of them. Happy Father’s Day, Ken!

  6. Thanks for sharing your memories Ken. I lost my Dad when I was 15 months old (At the age of 27, he was killed in the line of duty as a Missouri State Trooper); however, he was and remains an inspiration to me to this day, some 67 years later.

  7. Ken, Mark, and David; Mark’s comments about LV, your dad, being a MAN of HONOR are exactly as I remember him from my contacts with him in my experience of Troop 8. For that matter, the same could be said of any of the dads that were associated with Troop 8. Their word was their bond and they could be counted on to come through or stand beside you in time of need. They were true leaders and builders of men and all three of you were molded from the same clay.

    1. Thanks, Anne and others,

      Some days you do stories for everybody.

      Other days you do stories for yourself and ask for everybody to forgive you for wallowing in personal memories.

  8. Ken,
    Great photos and story about your dad. It makes me remember mine, who died four years after your dad. This is a beautiful tribute.

  9. You’re not jumping the gun at all! Some of us were thinking last Sunday was Father’s Day. I got my dad’s card Friday;addressed it and stamped it; and took it to be mailed out at Kell Farm Drive so he would get it on time. He let me know Saturday that he got it; and would be savoring it until this Sunday!

    1. Keith,

      I won’t say he doesn’t have it anymore. It might be in a shoe box in his closet. Here’s a photo of Mother, Mark and Mark’s friend Robin taken last April.

      Mother, Mark and Robin

      There’s no need to shoot a photo from behind. His hair looks pretty much the same in the back as the front.

  10. Thanks, Ken. I’m so glad that you DID indulge in family memories. This was a wonderful tribute to your dad and as it did for others and their dads, brought back wonderful memories of my dad. I was one of the fortunate ones, as my dad lived to age 84, passing in 2002, so I had more years to appreciate him, but never enough. You’re a very talented man and I always look forward to each day’s offering.


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