The birthday on April 4 of our pater familias caught me off guard and I only had time to throw together a short post. I have been giving it (and him) some more thought.
My father was very old school. He carried a Dunhill lighter and wore a fedora and a Burberry Balmacan raincoat. He wore Brooks Brothers suits; two for summer (one khaki and one olive green–a color they no longer seem to carry) and two for winter (gray). He wore Brooks Brothers button-down shirts (14 1/2/32) and shoes. Even in our hot, muggy flyover summers, he never wore sportshirts. (Sometimes he rolled his sleeves.) Jazzy for him meant madras. He wore boxers. He never changed the style of eyewear he wore. Ever. (See above in 1952 with my brother Chris in our grandparents backyard.)
He loved small leather goods. And the Georg Jensen store in NYC.
He was a proud veteran of WWII and Korea. He was the first man in his family not to serve as an officer.
He loved bookstores and books. He read mysteries. As my dual personality noted earlier, no one read Winnie the Pooh aloud like my father. He liked war movies and John Wayne. He met Charlton Heston once in London. (They both collected lead soldiers.)
He never lifted so much as a finger to help in the yard or the house. Ever. He did not barbeque.
When we had a dog, he never walked it. I think he liked small animals. He would have liked a cat. I remember he hit a rabbit once on Ladue Road and it was the only time I ever heard him use a four-letter word (sober). I think it really bothered him. (This is not to say that he didn’t blaspheme regularly–“God damn it!” being a favorite exclamation.)
He could get sunburned driving a car with the window open.
He liked cities, especially Boston and San Francisco. Nature was not his thing. Exercise? Please. He did once ride his bike as a teenager from Worcester, MA up to Montpelier, VT to visit his cousins, but I think that was probably because he was desperate to get out of his house (and away from his mother?) His cousin told me years later that when he arrived, he was terribly sunburned.
He always bought me a candy bar when we stopped for gas on the way home from school, even if dinner was in half an hour and he knew my mother would accuse him of “ruining my appetite”. I blame him for my candy addiction.
He cut the fat off his meat and hated butter. He liked Jordan Almonds.
He was a collector and hobbyist. Lead soldiers (Britains), model trains, medals, military prints and Dresden soldiers, Napoleana.
He was kind and quiet and gentlemanly. He was not a snob. He treated everyone the same. People of lower social orders always respected and admired him. He was ill-at-ease around business executives. He had a few friends, but like the rest of our family, he was an introvert who enjoyed his own company.