i usually have this unwritten rule of not writing about my personal life. it’s not like i have anything to hide or feel bad about, it’s just that i don’t find it all that interesting and tend to live for the future and sort of forget the past. having grown up in the cold war, hippy era, Vietnam war, rock and roll, punk and you-name-it whatever other events since the 60’s that have encouraged people to rethink established ways of thought has also taught me that rules are meant to be not necessarily broken, but a little bending now and again seems to keep things fresh. maybe digging up the past is a way of finding some sort of roots where i don’t really have any. maybe, but this isn’t about me. it’s about my dad.
he started off his teen years as a keen airplane model maker. he specialized in gliders and won national titles in both the construction and flying events. his father was the president of the local amateur airplane club so, the logical step was to move on to a bigger scale and make planes both with and without engines, and fly them from inside instead of on the ground. he was really good at this and also won many events. designing and making planes, pylon races, altitude and speed records, endurance and etc, and etc, and etc.
i can’t remember if it was at age 16 or 18 but he made sure to pass his pilot’s exam on his birthday. he was eager to fly on his own.
bringing some chick for a ride. it’s still one of the better ways to score.
a bit later my grandfather crashed his plane into a mountain peak and family obligations brought him back to earth and forced him to seek out more terrestrial occupations.
he wasn’t into fishing or hunting or any other outdoors activities.
outdoors, i guess, was a place where barbecues and picnics with friends and family would happen. we’d go there regularly but in a way, these outings where mostly based around the cooler. in order to keep some sort of sanity in this young boy’s mind, i always had a rod and reel stashed away in the car, just in case these outings happened near water. they usually did and these where wonderful opportunities to discover on my own all these countless treasures that laid between the cooler and the shoreline.
i often read odes to dads that have shown their offspring the ins and outs and ways of nature and i used to think i should be envious of those lucky people but i wasn’t. my papa didn’t know much about trees and animals and soil and water but he did know about the things above. every single cloud had a name and so did each star.
as fishers, we spend most of our time looking down and this early upwards apprenticeship brought a balance to my vision of life in general and maybe mostly of the outdoors.
his name was Bernard and he died when i was 22. i had worked out long before that, that death was just part of life so in a sense, even with the big empty space left, it wasn’t such a big deal. at one point or another it’s supposed to happen. besides, people only really die when they’re forgotten. i obviously won’t forget him but maybe these few words will help that from happening with those who weren’t so close to him.
the two of us, 1962
today, August 2nd is his birthday. i wish i could have known him better but wishes don’t always come through. i’m still looking up papa.