Ode to Dad

My Dad passed away in 2018 due to surgery complications.  He was 82.  He graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1960 and retired as a Colonel.  I miss him.

Dad would not come out and admit it but he was a learner, and he wanted his kids to be learners.  Not intellectuals, but to have the desire to read, learn and seek out knowledge. He was the dad that would purchase encyclopedias (Encyclopedia Britannica, and Pictorial Encyclopedia of American History) for his children, so they had the resources to complete their schoolwork.  We still have both Britannica and the Pictorial American History volumes.  I call dibs on them.

Dad would buy me science books with subjects like “igneous rocks”, “volcanoes”, and “dinosaurs”.  He fostered a lifelong desire to learn in me (not so much my brothers) and it has not stopped. I am constantly watching History Channel’s YouTube videos and reading books or watching YouTube on various hobbies I want to accomplish – write a memoir, record a song, write a comic book, draw a comic book.  My shelves are filled with books covering all these and more subjects.

One of my favorite childhood memories came during our time in St. Louis.  As a family, we would take periodic trips to the St. Louis Science Center.  We would walk through the exhibits reading the information and learning as we went.  At the end of each visit, we were allowed to pick out one thing from the gift shop.  As I wandered around the shop taking in all the science toys and experiments, I found it difficult to choose just one thing.  I wanted them all.  I wanted a book on space, a book on rocks, a book on dinosaurs. I wanted to learn all about the things I was seeing.  I distinctly remember picking out a box with different types of rocks glued to the inside bottom.  They were each labeled – quartz, granite, marble, slate, etc.  I cherished that box and it paired wonderfully with the book on Igneous rocks.

When the space program started, and all the astronauts were big news, my father did not hesitate to buy me a 1967 Revell Gemini Astronaut model of the first spacewalk (one of many things I still wish I had).  I had models or toys of the lunar module and the command module from the Apollo moon mission moon.

Dad went so far as to buy me a real microscope in a nice brown case for Christmas one year.  I learned how to use it and how to mount things onto the glass slides.  I became engrossed with looking at bug wings, leaves, salt water, pond water and any other thing I could find in our backyard or around the kitchen.  I wish I still had that. 

Dad was always buying me gifts to increase my curiosity and knowledge.  I can’t tell you how many chemistry sets I have owned through my childhood years.  Sets that would not be considered safe in today’s overprotective, snowflake society.  Hell, we used to build model tanks and take them underneath the house and light them on fire along with a few plastic army men.  It was a different time.

Thank you, Dad, for instilling a lifelong desire to learn different things and improve on the things I know.  I only hope I can pass this on to my Grandson.  I don’t think my own three boys are much into seeking out new knowledge or learning new skills and certainly not reading a book of any length.  *sigh*

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