Father’s Day 2015

June 19, 2015

[Note: I’ve lightly edited and updated Happy Father’s Day from June 12, 2014. Look down at my shoes if you see me soon after reading this post. And, finally, this is the last post for this weekend. If Father’s Day 2015 means anything, it means someone—me—gets a break!]

Well, Father’s Day 2015 is upon us, just a day away. I’ve now been the subject of 22, and shared a total of 44 with my father.

I like Father’s Day. Lots. I have my two-part ritual, developed over the past decade or more and missed only once, when I attended an old friend’s memorial service back East in 2009. (RIP, SH; you’re missed!)

Part one involves watching the last day of the U.S. Open. I don’t play golf anymore. Too painful for me, and even more painful for those with whom I am paired. (I finally gave away the clubs.) I don’t even watch golf anymore on television, but for one day a year.

I really enjoy the last day of the U.S. Open. I love the schmaltzy commercials that play up father-son relationships and how serious golfers are about their golf. I enjoy the stories that get created for every Open about the leaders’ relationships with their dads. I like how hard the course always is. And in most years there’s one heckuva finish. Not always, but usually!

This year’s Open happens on an eight-year-old course, links in design, never previously used for the U.S. Open. It’s called Chambers Bay Golf Course, it’s located in Washington, and it’s a public course. Cool on that! Oh, and Tiger Woods finished in a tie for 150th, with 155 in the tournament. MRW wishes ill on no one, but not everyone makes the cut, and not seeing Mr. Woods on the final two days feels fine!

Now, if I really tried to just watch the golf, I’m sure I’d fall asleep. So there is part two:  I polish all of my shoes. Every last pair, and it’s one of my least favorite tasks! For some pairs, it’s an annual event. (Others get periodic polish/Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam.) They all surely welcome the moisture and the chance to shine, and for me it’s a little something that lasts, after the day has passed.

Last year I ran across a special piece by Mark Bittman, Bagels, Lox and Me, from the April 29, 2014 issue of the New York Times. I posted it, it’s worth another mention, and I’ll get back to it in a bit.

Food was a big deal in our house, growing up. I’m sure the Depression mattered. My dad was born in 1933, and his father was an attorney, so I think my dad caught the tail end of something that was less than awful for his family. Still, my American history knowledge tell me everyone—save some, and only some, of the wealthiest—felt the impact of the bad times. Maybe there was more to it. I never asked, and am wishing I had.

Food mattered in funny ways. We always had lots of cans. Canned food lasts, and I’m sure it was “in the genes” that no one will take it away.

Whatever we bought, we had to buy good brands. No store labels. White, albacore tuna in water. S&W vegetables. Heinz ketchup. Etc.

My dad was always a three-meal-a-day man. Later in life, travel with him was a challenge, for we’d have a late, large breakfast, worry about lunch, and not want to eat dinner too late. Trips were organized around meals, and while the stomach I own has never been designed for three squares a day, restaurant-style, we soldiered on! (In more recent years, I have developed an appreciation for the Caesar Salad, light on the cheese, no croutons, and dressing on the side. A bowl of fresh Romaine lettuce gets you ready for the next meal very well!)

Two food memories stand out for me. First, my dad liked smoked oysters. Actually, like many Jews whose grandparents observed Kashrut laws, he rebelled as an adult, so we ate plenty of traife, which included shrimp, shellfish, pork, Chinese food, and pepperoni pizzas.

Smoked oysters were special, though. They were a delicacy. And they got shared, but only on a “one child at a time” basis. Not so often that they became ordinary, but often enough that I have the memory of a shared treat. A special memory, and it’s one which I suspect my sisters can recall.

And the other ritual involved Sunday brunch. I have very fond memories of brunch when I was in law school and my sister Pam was in college. Family, sorority sisters—cute—who my sister brought home, and plenty of good food! I don’t know how much lox we had—I’m sure it was more than the half of a quarter the Bittman family bought for six in the 1930s—but we always had a nice spread, and lots of banter back and forth.

With these happy memories in mind, may you all have a delightful weekend, an especially fine Sunday, and a very happy Father’s Day.

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