Happy Fathers Day

My Dad coulda used one of these.

My Dad coulda used one of these.

We didn’t celebrate Hallmark Holidays growing up, as my mother famously asked us, “But what about the other 364 days of the year?” And frankly, Dad had enough ugly neckties already. It was his passion.

And so I have little sentimentality for Father’s Day, though I have tons for my parents, now long gone.

I have a fond memory my Dad in his soft, well-worn Pendleton bathrobe, trying to make pancake breakfast for us on summer morning. I heard the blender start followed by laughter and some light, Dad-style cussing as the batter hit the walls and I think the ceiling. He claimed the lid flew off the old Waring, but I don’t think he put it on as it was about the only thing in the kitchen that was clean, including him. He was good about laughing at himself, so we felt OK laughing too as he wiped batter off his glasses.

The pancakes were very good that day at Biff’s Diner in downtown Oakland. (It looked like the Jupiter II, the 1960s-era flying saucer from Lost in Space, so it was way cool to me and my sister Ninegrain loved all the flavored syrups.)

So, to all the dads, step-dads, dad-wannabes, and assorted father figures out there, here’s to you. Today might be only one day of the year, but everyday you create memories, and sometimes pancakes for your kids. Just remember to put the lid on the blender and laugh when you don’t.

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5 Responses to Happy Fathers Day

  1. 9thousandfeet says:

    Yeah, what TG said.

    My dad was a baker and chef, and in the kitchen/bakery portion of our place were a number of machines, two of which were huge Hobart mixers—kinda like those KitchenAid stand mixers for domestic use, only about 5 feet tall and with a bowl big enough for a 50-loaf batch of dough.

    So far so good, but I was one of those kids who was probably what would now be diagnosed as being ADHD/Autistic spectrum, but back then was simply described as “having ants in his pants”, and my primary way to play with toys was to immediately take them apart so I could understand the insides.
    I was good at this disassembly thing, so would run out of toys pretty quick, but not the desire to look inside things.

    Like, oh, maybe big food mixers, for example.

    It was thus that one evening dad came cruising through the bakehouse to bank the oven one last time before retiring for the night that he found me sitting on the floor surrounded and utterly transfixed by the most wonderful collection of cogs and gears and wheels I’d ever seen.

    I think he said “Jesus Christ” or something, then sat down, laughed, and said “well I guess we’ll be up all night figuring out how to put this back together”. And so we did, and the big beast was working by the time the morning shift came in around 4 am.

    Thus I came to know that although I was weird and never really felt like I belonged anywhere until I saw the open skies of the mountains and the US desert west for first time, that maybe it was gonna be ok if I just went with what I was good at and enjoyed.

    Oh, and he taught me to cook too, and to care about it, and taught me that while it’s ok not to “know* how to cook, it’s sure not fucking ok not to want to know how.
    If everyone had been lucky enough to have had my dad as their dad, this fucking asshole with the weird hair, this execrable lover of well-done steaks with ketchup—ketchup!!—would not be someone any of us would be talking about.

    It’s been almost 40 years, and I still miss him.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. w3ski4me says:

    My Dad loved to cook at some point in his life. By the time I and my sister were around, Dad would only occasionally whip up a batch of his Chopped Liver, and never really made meals. Which was a shame as Mom was a terrible cook. He compensated to us by taking us out to dinner a couple times a week. So my sis and I got to grow up with well prepared food from an early age. Our family usually went for Ihop in El Cerrito, but I’ve been to your place too.
    My Dad was behind me in everything, including trying to help my Son, from my first marriage. Dad left us all in 88 and there is rarely a day I don’t remember him for something. I’m up to ‘great grand kids’ now and here I still miss my Dad.
    Happy father’s day Dr Grain. And to all you Dad’s.


  3. donnah says:

    I love your dad stories. My dad passed away four years ago, so I still miss him every day. He was a great father; smart, sarcastic, and a master craftsman.

    Except the time he decided he would hook up a small paddle to his power drill to speed-mix a can of paint. He set it out on the driveway, stuck the paddle end into the paint can, turned it on, and whirrr! a perfect circle of paint spun out onto the concrete. I was watching from our kitchen and nearly peed my pants, but kept still.

    “Well, shit the bed” was all he said. He got turpentine on a rag and wiped up the paint ring. He adjusted the paddle, changed the speed, turned it on, and whirrrr, another perfect circle of paint, just not quite as wide. He looked at the drill, the new paint circle, and said, “Sonofabitch” and went back for his paint rag.

    I had dissolved into a pile of tears by that point and ran back to my room so he didn’t find me. So I guess he got a plain old wooden stir stick after that.

    He was a great dad.


    • tengrain says:

      I gotta know: are we related? That sounds like my dad for sure.

      Also: what was he gonna paint?




      • donnah says:

        Tengrain, I was gone all day and missed this reply. It’s so funny! We may be long lost siblings after all.

        He was going to paint the bathroom, also known as “going to paint the goddamned bathroom”.


        Liked by 1 person

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