My Dad was raised in an impoverished world, one that he rarely talks about. It was a world in a Great Depression when there was no food in the house, where as he says, the rats were bigger than he was, when he ate butter by the handful because it was the only thing they had (he doesn’t eat much butter anymore as a result).
My Dad made sure that his own family didn’t experience the same fate. When he lost two sons (Brian in 1957 and Stephen in 1959) as a result of genetic disorders, he took on a second occupation to pay the bills and make sure that we had all that we needed.
My Dad ensured that we were exposed to culture, at least I think that was the goal. Growing up, I had little choice but to listen to either pipe bands or opera playing on the stereo so you can imagine my shock at finding my parent`s secret stash of 45`s containing The Twist by Chubby Checker – they had been closet young people all along but for some reason did not seem to want me to know! My Dad taught me to play and enjoy the game of chess at the age of three – because my mother couldn’t grasp the game and my father needed a practise opponent.
My Dad made the mistake of telling me that alligators lived in a neighbourhood ravine where we would go for walks so he was forced to carry me on his shoulders through the ravine as I had no intention of being eaten by one of the creatures. My Dad convinced me that he had been a cowboy in the town of Deadwood and had been a best friend of Gene Autry – even the neighbours joined in on this one, filling me with tales of adventures in the Wild West!
My Dad was the first over the boards to celebrate my hockey championship in 1968 and to then make certain that my goalie stick and the game puck were preserved as trophies to mark the occasion.
My Dad spent about 1000 hours building a model sailing ship with everything replicated in an authentic way. Even the rigging had to be researched and every knot tied, using tweezers and a magnifying glass, in just the same way it was done on the original. My Dad is still an incredibly detailed artist (a gift I did not inherit!), specializing in finely detailed pen and ink drawings and precisely shaped and hand painted miniature historic figures.
My Dad is a proud Scotsman and is the father of a proud son!