One of the things I remember most about my Dad is that he was always involved in or working on cars. Not fancy cars mind you, but our run of the mill family cars. He is not a mechanic by trade, yet one of his odd jobs when he was a young boy was working in a gas station. Not only did he get to pump gas, but he watched the mechanics work on cars…and then learned on his own to work on his cars. As kids we would always hear him tinkering in the garage. He would change his own oil, fix his own brakes, do tune ups..even pound out dents when he accidentally missed the driveway in a blinding snowstorm and grazed the rock wall instead. Oops! It’s funny now…not so funny when you heard the swearing coming from the garage that night. Somehow we knew to stay away.
To this day he reminds us that he had a classic ’57 Chevy, aqua and white, that he could kick himself for getting rid of. Whenever I see him, he is always on ‘autospeak’. "How is your car running?", "How often do you have your oil changed?", "How many car payments do you have left?", "You know, I was reading about what kind of antifreeze is the best for your car…" Always the helpful Dad.
When I was little, about 10, he would let me "shift" the car into gear when I rode in the front seat with him. We had a little 4 speed, standard shift Opel, and I would watch as he pushed the clutch to the floor..and that was my cue the shift to the next gear. That was the coolest thing for a kid who didn’t drive yet…
He also loves boats. Rowboats, sailboats, tall ships..any boat really. And he loves the water. He was in the US Coast Guard. As a very young boy of around 13, he built his very own rowboat from scratch. He said he was so proud and excited the first time he took it out for a test run in the Long Island Sound. It floated and it held water! Many years later he purchased a 19 foot motor boat. He looooved that boat. We used to go out on the Hudson River almost every weekend. Once, I remember the weather looked daunting, but he insisted that everything would be OK. Well..the thunderstorm came and went…and we got stuck out in the middle of the Rondout Creek…holding onto a dock for dear life as the boat rose and fell in 3 foot swells and we got soaked from head to toe! I learned to water ski on that boat…and I actually stayed up! We had alot of fun on his boat.
Dad has since sold the boat, but he still likes being a Cap’n. He went to sailing school in Florida and often sails with different groups in New York and Connecticut. He has also given up working on cars….now that computer technology has replaced old fashioned mechanics.
In whatever he did, my Dad always took such good care of things. He taught us to have respect for things and for people. On Father’s Day, as I look back, I see him taking meticulous care of his cars and his boat..the material things that money could buy. Just like he took care of his family, the people he loved and cared for the most….the way he knew best. Like a good father should.