Sunday, June 15, 2008

Public Knitting Happened and Father's Day did too

Rainless, sunny day brings out Public Knitting at The Sow's Ear!

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day, so I did! (Did you?) It was a beautiful sunny, breezy day (!) so I got organized to go to the Sow's Ear to knit publicly in front of everyone. Took me a lot longer to get ready than I thought, as I intended to start on the Dr Who scarf; therefore, I had to wind off some of the colors to take along. I decided to wind the first four colors, which will hold me for a little while. I have the chart showing how many rows of each color to do, so I went by that.

There are some tables with jolly umbrellas in the front yard of the Sow's Ear, and a variety of chairs, so we were sitting right out there in front of God and everybody, knitting like mad! There was a lace shawl on the needles, some fabulous socks, my silly ol' granny shawl (hey, I LIKE knitting them, and I have to say, for certain things -- shawls, in particular -- I like Lion Brand "Homespun". Call me a peasant.) NOTE: I actually sort of *am* a peasant, now that I think about it -- furthermore, at my Advanced Age, I'd have to say I'm proud of it!! Returning now to regular programming.

A highlight of the day was that we were joined by a charming girl who introduced herself and pulled up a chair (she was knitting a perfectly stunning Dale sweater) and revealed that she was a "refugee from Iowa!" Seems she and her husband had been evacuated from their apartment - voluntarily, but it seemed like a good idea. So they had come to Madison where she had family - and she'd found the shop and joined us. We were delighted to have her, and all hope that Iowa City and all the other places here in the Midwest that are suffering from the floods, are restored as quickly as possible. It's going to be a long time before these communities are back up to's already a long summer, and it hasn't started yet!

Now then. This very handsome young man is my father, probably as a college student. Where my sister was Mom's daughter, I was Dad's. In those days, fathers were the Head of the Family, Breadwinner, Boss. Men were not encouraged to show much softness or affection, were exempt from a lot of child-rearing duties, and did things like Drive the Car and Pay the Bills. My dad handled all of that skillfully, and in my recollection there was not a lot of huggy-smoochy going on in our house; yet I always felt very loved by my Daddy.

I remember the year 1963 keenly: that was the year that President Kennedy was assassinated; the Pope died; the submarine Thresher went down (all hands on board); and -- my daddy died. He died on Christmas Day, 1963. I was staying overnight at my best friend Peggy's house, and we got a call in the middle of the night from my brother-in-law with the news.

That was the deepest sadness of my life, and still (knock wood) is. I admired my father hugely, and knew that he was admired outside of our house too, but it was only after his death that I learned the full extent of it.

First - he left me a legacy so rich that I think of it often, cherish it always, and it has gotten me through my life - and I believe his legacy is what has made me a really happy and contented woman today; I believe I'm passing some of his legacy on to my children and grandchildren: that legacy is an appreciation for Words, a delight in reading, an enjoyment and enthusiasm of public speaking (in various guises) and such ability with writing as I have .

He was a newspaperman all his life, starting with trotting along behind his brother as he delivered The Duluth Tribune around town in Duluth, Minnesota where he was born in 1911. He worked for the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota after his marriage and through the years of my sister's birth and then mine. In about 1945 we moved to Minneapolis, and he worked for the Minneapolis Star and Tribuine until his death.

He was editor of "The Minnesota Poll", a public-opinion research column - and he was excellent at it, having devised some polling methods of extraordinary accuracy that are, I believe, still in use in various places. When he died we got a letter of condolence from George Gallup! Dad had served as President of our synagogue, and was praised and honored and spoken of with great respect all around. He even appeared in "Who's Who in American Journalism" at one point.

I remember a game he devised - I especially loved it because he only played it with me! Before he left for work in the morning, he would write a word on a piece of paper and leave it on my bedside table. When he came home for dinner, I was expected to define it, spell it, and use it (appropriately) in a sentence. Some of the words were just silly ("antidisestablishmentarianism", of course) but for the most part they were rich, good, vocabulary-building words.

This is my favorite picture of my father, sitting at his desk at the Star & Trib; it is the Essence of him. I was sometimes allowed to go to the office with him on a Saturday, where I was called "the editor" by his colleagues; I was allowed to sit at an empty desk and write on a pad with a black "Ebony" pencil. I adore those pencils to this day and always have them around. As you can see, Daddy typed on a manual typewriter (of course, that's all there was!). He used only the first two fingers on each hand plus his thumb for the space bar, and he was fast.

He was SO fast, that his secretary arranged a race between him and the teletype machine! I wasn't there, but I remember clearly that - while of course the teletype won, his speed was clocked at something over 85 words-per-minute without error . Think on that for a moment!!

Daddy made his living and supported us all nicely by the flow of words -- the rich flow of delicious words, might I add -- and I managed to support my little family by the flow of words too, albeit as a secretary. Maybe I inherited my respectable typing speed from him too. I can only imagine the incredible delight Daddy would have had from computers, and from the miraculous innerwebs. Happy Father's Day, Daddy; I love you and when I'm writing, I can all but see you!

In closing, I'd like to wish a whole year of Happy Father's Days to two young men whose daddyhood I respect infinitely: my two sons are the kind of daddies I like best, imaginative, loving, protective, responsible and not afraid of maintaining standards of behavior. Neither was raised with much in the way of role models (until Mr Dearling came along) and yet both excel at the job of Daddy. You maybe can't see it from there, but I am also giving an enthusiastic Standing Ovation to all the dads whose songs are largely unsung. HOORAY to you!!


shandy said...

Hi, Dale-Harriet, I was struck by your comment on my blog on sunday. So many of my friends, or their husbands, recently retired, spend their new-found leisure in occupations which were once full-time, life-long jobs - carpentry, running steam railways, growing vegetables. It's just not the same thing if you choose to do it. I am sure that knitting stockings commercially and at speed was not the same as knitting socks using lovely yarns at your own pace. I guess if piece-workers ever had free-time they would have been so weary that sleep would have been the activity of choice.

Kitty Mommy said...

A beautiful tribute to your father. I, too, am a daddy's girl!

kmkat said...

What a lovely tribute to your father. I was especially struck by the first photo of him -- if I hold my thumb up to block most of his feature, it could be a photo of my own dad in the 1940s. My dad was a good man in his heart, but had some tragic flaws that caused him to drink too much and sometimes neglect his family. But, like you, I always felt loved by him. He made that much very clear.

MX said...

Excellent Dale-Harriet. I love the story of your Dad and the pictures are so handsome!