"I came to realize very early (much earlier than would seem normal) that nothing I did would ever be good enough to win my father's approval. He never missed a chance to ridicule me, cut me down, or try to make me cry. Today I just laugh if someone tries to bully me. There is no way, when you have been toughened like I was, that anyone else could ever hurt me. So you could say that I'm grateful for that. I could view it as a gift."
"He said, “Tell me a story about your Dad and at the end of it think about that memory for a minute while I take your picture…”
So I thought about it for a minute and got real uncomfortable and then I got through those first few memories of how just fucking awful it was at the end and then I thought about this and told him:
When I was a pretty little kid, me and my Dad and my Uncle Jim were in Dad’s blue AMC Gremlin driving across the Texas panhandle towards Oklahoma City and home, when something went critically wrong in the little AMC’s guts…
We spent the night in a hotel in Amarillo…which was a first for me.
It was already late when we broke down - I’d been sleeping a while curled up on the back seat - but now there was drama and street-theater and a manageable adult crisis to watch and enjoy…
We Three Men…like a house on fire…
It was the first time I’d ever been up so late…
…and back in Amarillo,Texas in the mid-seventies there was one channel on that hotel-room teevee that hadn’t already played the National Anthem and gone off the air for the night…It was the first time I was allowed to stay up and watch the late late show and it was the first time I saw Murnau’s silent movie, Nosferatu…the one from 1922…with Max Schreck…creepiest booger I’d ever seen…
…and I can remember how tense my Dad had been, him, recently divorced, explaining on the hotel’s room phone why he was gonna have to keep me for another night while we waited for parts to ship from Dallas…
We lay in the dark; Jim in the bed by the door, me curled up into a ball against my Dad, a table with a lamp on it between Jim and us, in the bed by the window. We lay together in the dark room, dappled with blue light…
He smoked Kents and drank Pepsi and eventually the tension went out of him and when the air conditioner quit, Dad and Jim threw their top sheets and blankets on the floor so I could have a little pallet down there and we could all sleep as far away from each other as possible…
It got hot. But that sort of added to the adventure of it…we lay on our bellies watching Stoker’s Dracula story stolen and retold and we drank Pepsi from cheap little plastic water glasses and we all three grinned at the teevee from the pure pleasure of all of it…
…flickering squares reflected onto their glasses…
I stayed awake through the whole movie - another first for me - and in me that night was born a passion for horror movies and science-fiction anthology shows and space-opera-melodramas. And Max Schreck was terrifying from the safe distance of 1922 in black and white and when Ellen Hutter gives herself to Orlok and he sort of looms at odd angles at her out of the shadows and he approaches the bed and turns back the hem of her night dress and sort of gathers her breast up into his hand and sups up at her neck a while…and she keeps him there…because she read in a book that if a woman “pure of heart” could keep him bemused and bewildered until the cock crowed three…she might vanquish the creature…
And she gives herself to Orlok; she makes this sacrifice to save her husband, Thomas, and each time the cock crows, Orlok starts away and she gathers him back to her with this sort of…is balletic a word…? I mean these graceful balletic intimate movements with her arms and hands and fingers that make me think of warm flannel and freckled breasts…
…and she pulls him back to her…
…and they destroy each other…
...I've known this girl in my own life...
...and we tried to destroy each other...
I loved the melodrama of it and I loved the pornography of it and I loved the eeriness of it and I loved the romance of it. Because when the cock crowed three, and he was still at Ellen Hutter’s throat, Orlok was bathed in sunlight and made to vanish in a haze of cigar smoke…
Ellen dies in Thomas’ arms…
It’s the first time I ever remember having an erection...
So I finished telling the story and then I sit a minute thinking about it and remembering my Dad and I’ve sort of amused myself and I’m having a hard time sitting still and Ian’s crawled under his cape and he’s taking my picture from six different angles and he’s got this nervous energy and he’s doing everything with these tight efficient little movements. And then he was done and I just felt sort of…warm."
"My father was a great man. He fought the Communists in Korea. He put himself through college. He got married at age 30, and was in love with my mother until he died at age 83. He had five children who are kind people and good citizens. He had a meaningful career designing products that improved people’s lives. He died in his beautiful home surrounded by loved ones.
"I lost my dad when I was 25. I spent most of the last year of he was alive with him, doing whatever it was that he wanted to do. We both knew death was coming and there was a finite time period for him to share his wisdom with me; we talked a lot. I asked my dad, very close to his death bed, to tell me the one message he would wish to be carried on. His response was this: "leave it better than you found it"."
"In the summer of 1993 I went on the "great American road trip" with my dad and his good friend Trish Pollock. The plan was to drive to Chicago and visit his old Daytona biker friend Doc. That was the summer the Mississippi broke it levees and devastated much of the mid west. Dad, being the journalist that he was, wanted to see it and me being involved in boy scouts wanted to help, so it was decided we were to go to Chicago via the Mississippi River. For three days we drove stopping in Memphis (Graceland), Nashville and then on to St. Louis were we turned north and slowly made our way stopping at any small town bordering the Mississippi helping any way we could, mostly filling sandbags. We worked along side a spectrum of people. From families who stayed behind to protect their home, to convicts who had no choice. The whole time we were doing this it never really hit home what was going on. We were aware of what we were doing but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to see. It was the last day of sandbagging and we had just left the small town of Grafton, Illinois and stopped in Springfield at a Motel Six. We were washing the grime off our hands and turned on the news just in time to see the very town we were just in get flooded. The room fell silent, I don't even remember the television making a sound. I looked over at my dad for some sort of answer. His eyes welled up as he let out a heavy sigh. I just stared in complete silence, neither of us knowing what to say. That day, I think, changed both of us. It was the first time we ever shared a real emotion. Dad always instilled in me to take notice of the little things to get a bigger picture of life and what kind of impact you might have on it. The daily struggle of not knowing what comes around the bend and to make sure you make the most of it."
"When he had this little construction company in Norfolk,
They were called in to work on the roof of this grocery store off Tidewater Drive.
This is the story as it was told to me by my brother.
What happened was, some thieves cut a hole in the roof of the grocery store to rob the safe.
Well then it rained, so there was all this wet insulation in the attic of the grocery store.
Now the grocery store is composed of what you called metal bar joists. So its all metal, there’s no where to go.
The insulation had gotten wet.
So they had these guys lined up down in there.
Only the skinny guys could get down in there.
They were passing this wet insulation out, and the guy who was at the hole in the roof was taking it out.
Well then, apparently, they had an electrician down there working on the place at the same time.
Somehow or another the place up there where my brother and these three other men were working got hot.
They were being electrocuted.
So my dad ran over to where the electrician and the manager were there in the store, and he told ‘em that he needed them to cut the power off,
that his men were getting electrocuted out there.
But the manager of the store refused to cut off the power.
So my dad told the electrician “I need you to just cut this power off for me”, but he wouldn’t do it because the manager wouldn’t do it.
There was a fire axe right there on the wall,
So dad grabs the fire axe off the wall and says “Okay, well I’ll turn the power off”
My brother says “they tell me that when he cut that line in two with that axe,
The sparks flew,
I couldn’t tell ya, but I can tell ya one thing,
The lights went out.”
So that’s the story of that event, as it is told to me by my brother, and I know it to be true."
"You were born in New York city
Died in Durham's Veterans Hospital
A World War II Seabee
Made the world safe for Democracy
You sure made a lot of money
With a grade school education
I grew up in Baltimore and Detroit
You got us to Chicago
Before you fell down in Pittsburgh
Your life always seemed like a sunny day to me"
"My father was the Chief of Police of Greenville, Alabama, where I grew up. He was born and raised in south Alabama. I remember him introducing me to sugar cane and teaching me how to use a knife to section and peel it. He was a great storyteller, and would tell me stories of his childhood on the farm as we selected, cut and chewed our sugar cane."
"He always told me, "Keep your eye on the ball."