daddo’s day


Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there fighting the good fight! Here’s my story for Father’s Day:

It’s about 1974, and we’re late for the concert. My dad is the conductor for the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and as it is with our family, we’re late getting out the door for a show that is starting at 8pm.

My sister Michelle, then a toddler, has already barfed all over my dad’s tux (which, it being 1974, was probably purple anyway). The family piles into our VW Fastback and my dad, with baton and scores shoved into his brown briefcase, floors it out of our driveway; it is 7:54pm.

We’re zooming all the way to downtown, with the tension in the car becoming insane. About three blocks from the concert hall, the unthinkable happens: clanking bells, red lights, and giant wooden arms close the road. A train is coming, and we’re stuck on the other side.

Not just a train, but a 350-car cattle train from the bowels of Iowa, full of grain, coal, cows and god knows what else. It’s moving at about four miles per hour. I look outside and I can’t even see the caboose, and begin to freak out.

The whole car begins to freak out. But my dad, usually pretty intense, just leaned his head back and smiled. “Calm down,” he said, “they can’t start without me.”

In that moment I thought my dad was the biggest rock star I’d ever known. Feel free to share yours.


my dad and I clean the VW Fastback, 1968

0 thoughts on “daddo’s day

  1. Bozoette Mary

    I have two:
    The first occurred the night I was gang raped. I was at the hospital when my parents arrived. My dad was a very reserved man and not physically affectionate with us kids. My mom immediately grabbed me up in her arms, and as she was hugging me, I reached out to my dad, who held my hand tightly. He didn’t say a word, just held my hand. It was all I needed.
    The other occured a few years later, the night before I was to leave to join the circus. Mom was frantic and worried and trying to talk me out of it. In a quiet moment, I asked my dad whether I should go. He said, “Of course you should go. You can always come home.”
    If he hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have gone and would have missed My Big Adventure.

  2. Anne D.

    Cutest dad/son photo ever, Ian!
    And Mary: I know what you mean. My dad was a rock for me, too.
    My dad treated me like a boy, and in the 1950s that was a good thing for a little girl. (IMO) He assumed I would be as thrilled by major league baseball games, astronomy (my best Christmas present was a telescope when I was 8), algebra (age 7), horse-racing (Carry Back, woot), and the running events in the Olympics (Wilma Rudolph FTW!) as he was. And he was right. His only big disappointment was that I never got into golf – the love of his life. Too slow for me.
    I know he was proud when I played on the first women’s college ice hockey team in the country. My dad: unwitting feminist of the ’50s and ’60s! :-)

  3. caveman

    My Dad taught me how to “roll” our trees with toilet paper after Carolina won the 1982 NCAA basketball championship. It was a father-son moment that I cherish to this day.

  4. emma

    I was a little older when the realization struck me that my Dad would stand by me no matter what. It was the first week home after my freshman year at UNC (summer of ’88) and as I was driving home from a party, I got pulled over and charged with a DUI. Luckily, my Dad was out of town that weekend, but when Mom called him up and told him what happened, his friend looked at Dad and said, “you know, that could have been any of us on many nights.” Mom and Dad sat behind me in the courtroom at the trial as the judge announced I was “not guilty.” My lawyer whispered to me, “Let’s get outta here before he changes his mind.” I was ashamed of myself for the whole incident, but glad to know that I would always have them there for me.


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