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Dad in the Moment

An album of Father’s Day memories

The man you know as father surpasseth understanding — at least your understanding. As his child, you are condemned to viewing him through the lens of that relationship — to you, all-important. But he puts on roles like shirts.

On the other hand, you have captured him in the clarity of a million brilliant moments. For this collection of Father’s Day memories, we asked readers, writers, friends and strangers to share with us one indelible image.

I hope these memories will spark your memories.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

 

George Leonidovich Artamonoff: A Man of Adaptations

Son of a Russian Imperial general and explorer; immigrant who worked his way through Yale winding clocks, shoveling coal and tutoring; joined the U.S. Army the day after Pearl Harbor, moving through North Africa and Europe, rising to full Colonel; directed the Marshal Plan in Japan, and later worked in Morocco, Thailand and Nigeria.

Surrounded by flounder,
salt in our hair,
my father and I kneel on a pier.

We’re sunburned after all day
in a small open boat.
I am six, my father — ?

He doesn’t seem old.
He is handsome, charming,
his mustache is trim.

How many women has he
already loved … I grow up
to love many men.

Does he ever wonder about
this part of my life … He tells me
of his affairs one afternoon

While records spin gypsy guitars
and in the next room, without warning
my mother dumbfounds us by dying.

At six, I worry only how will we
clean all these platter-shaped fish
whose eyes migrated topside.

My father takes a thin knife,
slits bellies, dumps guts
for minnows darting like bees.

Then he teaches me to filet:
grip the throat of the tail,
slice terribly close to the bones.

–Elisavietta Ritchie, Solomons

Henry McKinney Barker: All about Aviation

Longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S. Air Force pilot (Lt. Colonel); father and grandfather of three, great-grandfather of five.

We three children announced my father’s passing with the words Hank has flown.

He was a walking history book about all things aviation — from taking his first flight in a barn-storming plane over Bristol, Tennessee, at age four, to joining World War II as a teenage B-24 pilot, to refueling sorties for USAF over Europe in the Cold War and later to reunion after reunion with those he met along the way.

On visits home after my mother died, I’d be appalled to see Dad’s collection of aviation-reunion baseball caps lined up on the back of her beautiful cream-and-gold living-room sofa. He said the layout made it easy for him to pick out a cap. Most of those caps are hanging up here at home now, an endearing everyday reminder of my wonderful dad.

–Margaret A. Barker-Frankel, Shady Side

William C. Barr Jr.: The Character of a Character

Lifelong resident of Tyrone, Penn., insurance agent and father of two.

My mother did the talking at our house. In the background sat my father, silent and sad. Yet out among friends and townspeople, Dad came alive. He teased, he prodded, he made people laugh. He brought smiles to their faces and color to their days. By the age of eight or so, I’d figured out that beneath his mild-mannered exterior, my father was a character.

Yet did this beloved Man about Town love his daughter?

Then came my day.

Mom and I were standing in the kitchen. When I asked her for aspirin for my headache, she replied that we had none. Ten minutes later, my father, who’d been listening in from the doorway, walked in the front door and handed me aspirin. He’d walked to the corner store to get me some.

It’s true what they say, you know. Actions do speak louder than words.

–Diana Barr Dinsick, Odenton

George William Beechener Jr.: That’s My Girl

A man who left an impression.

My father was a big believer in knowledge. That’s probably why, when I was five, he sat me down for the world’s most comprehensive sex talk. I got the technical names of body parts and what exactly happened to those body parts during the act. I was thrilled to share this information with the whole of my class the very next day. That night, as angry parents called the house, my father asked one question: Did Diana get the facts right? When told that I did, he simply said That’s my girl! and hung up the phone. 

–Diana Beechener, Pasadena

Jim Broomfield: Our Ever-Hop-able Pop

Hardworking and loving father gave a lifetime of love in too few years.

In the early days of my childhood I remember my dad working late most nights as a dental technician servicing most of Maryland. When he would get home he was always tired and hungry. Even so, he would always have time for my brother and me, and we would climb all over him like a jungle gym, crying, “hop on Pop.” He would reply in a deep voice, “You must not hop on Pop.”

–Audrey Broomfield, Deale

Julius Cornell Embree Haley: My Biggest Fan

Master sergeant in the Korean Conflict, Howard University graduate in engineering, architect at the David Taylor Naval Research Center retired to his own firm, SAH, Inc., named after his father, Simon Alexander Haley, that he ran until his passing on April 9, 2010.

I acted in several productions at ­Dignity Players, in a range of roles from supporting to featured to lead. My father attended every one. Being my biggest fan had been my mother’s joy, but after she passed away, my dad filled the position like a champion. In Blue/Orange, I gave a rather heavy, heart-wrenching performance as a deeply mentally ill person. I worried that my father might find it too rough, as at one point my character breaks down in heavy sobs over his mother’s dying, as my mother’s dying was very emotional for me and him, I’m sure. Seeing and hugging me as I came off stage, he simply said, with a small, but definite smile, “It was good to see you up there acting again.”

–Christopher Haley, Annapolis

Wilfred H. Howarth: Man of Conviction

1915-1997. Canadian WWII conscientious objector, and at the time of these reminiscences, manager of buildings and grounds for Pendle Hill, a Society of Friends (Quaker) study center outside Philadelphia.

As a young girl, I made trips to the hardware store with my dad in dark green Sears Roebuck — possibly Montgomery Ward’s — matching long-sleeved shirt and pants, held up with gaily striped elastic suspenders, the kind with metal grips that snapped onto the waistband. This was his invariable outfit for most of his working life. It was my job to iron these on the vintage roller press in our basement: laundry baskets of identical heavy Sanforized cotton, slightly damp. I was surprised to find much later that he had once been something of a sharp dresser, though never a dandy.

As a Church of England tenor, then “convinced” Quaker, he was not given to granting indulgences.

Recent spelling bee coverage reminded me of the one time I remember my father making an excuse on my behalf. I was proceeding well in the junior high school finals, held with ceremony and a large audience of parents in the school auditorium in the evening, but came up against the word edifice, and spelled it with an extra e. Disqualified.

“The judge pronounced it badly,” my father remarked when I came down from the stage, crestfallen.

–Barclay Walsh, Shady Side

Earling Lamp: What Every Kid Wanted

WWII bronze-star winner.

My great blessings as a little boy with a loving mommy and daddy back when Father Knows Best ruled TV’s airwaves were tempered by their early divorce. Afterwards, only weekends for daddy and me.

My dad was my hero, my everything. Always there for me, then giving me what every kid wanted. One overcast Saturday morning, he opened our back door and in raced love at first sight: my own dog, Bullet.

–E. Joseph Lamp, Arnold

Dent Lynch: Master of Adaptation

Retired attorney, grandfather of 12 and father of 4.

Once upon a time, my father could not type and boasted that he used his office-issued computer as a doorstop. No more. He reads books on his Kindle, follows sports blogs on his iPad — and sets up lunch dates via texts with three grandkids who are now sophomores at South River High. I hear about these appointments after the fact, or when they all show up at my house for a highly competitive round of ping-pong.

My 16-year old might say in passing, “Duck texted me. We’re going out to lunch.” (All 12 grandkids, and many family members, call him Duck. Another story.)

Their wish is his command: Chic-Fil-A, Subway, Potbelly, Sonic, Pizza Hut … I’m never included on Dad’s group texts. “Why should you be,” he wants to know. “These kids are teenagers!” So, apparently, is Duck.

–Janice Schuster Lynch, Riva

Murray Melamud: Lived by His Convictions

Followed service in WWII as a successful owner of a jewelry-manufacturing business in New York City until he decided the rat-race was not for him. Like so many of his generation, he was raised thinking smoking was safe, relaxing and cool. Like many others, it took his life much too early.

When I was growing up on our chicken farm, my father leased some of our fields to a farmer who grew table corn. When the corn was ripe, my father insisted that we have that corn at every dinner, for we would never taste anything fresher or better. My brother and I were sent to the field to harvest enough for that evening’s meal while my mother started the water boiling. We would shuck it as we walked back to the house and deposit it directly in the boiling water. We had that corn every night for weeks on end. Looking back, he was right. It certainly was the best corn I have ever tasted; likely it was the best corn anyone has ever tasted.

–Bob Melamud, Severna Park

Robert McCombs Robson: Man of Integrity, Kindness, ­Intelligence and Humor

The youngest of seven, born in Atlanta in 1917; loved writing and contributed a weekly column to the local newspaper in West Palm Beach. Robbie passed away in 1997.

I grew up in the South in the years of racial segregation. In the mid-1960s, integration finally became a legal reality in my hometown, West Palm Beach, but was not readily accepted by many.

Back then, my Georgia-born dad owned a garden-and-pet store, where he sheltered an assortment of creatures, from mice to a woolly monkey named Matilda, and groomed dogs for extra income. When he hired a young black woman and trained her to work alongside him, some people didn’t approve.

Whenever anyone became huffy about it, Dad politely said there was another store up the highway where they could take their business.

–Lucia St. Clair Robson, Arnold

Harry Edward Sturdevant: A Man to Look Up to

Former chairman of the board, McCrone Engineering.

My dad was a tall man, six feet, so when I grew to six foot three, everyone was amazed. When I got engaged, we took the usual picture in front of the fireplace.  What you can’t see is the phone books my dad was standing on. He said, I am going to be taller than you in this picture. And he was! For Fathers Day one year I gave him a little plaque I found that said A father is someone you look up to … no matter how tall you are.

–Margaret Sturdevant Thompson, Prince Frederick

Paul J. Sauers Jr.: A Good Sport

U.S. Army veteran of the Korean Conflict, ­married Mary Jane Hlavaty and raised two daughters and two sons; technician for several asphalt companies in the region before retiring. He died in 2004.

My dad was six feet three inches tall. He played football in high school and was known by his nickname, Tiny. As a teen in the 1940s, he also was the city champ in the junior tennis tournament. He loved sports and instilled in all of his four children a sense of fun, a sense of competition and the grace to accept a loss. We have countless memories of gathering around the radio (when televised games weren’t broadcast) and listening to the play-by-play with him. He taught us loyalty to a team and understanding the action without over-intellectualizing the game.  I miss those times in the car, at the kitchen table or swinging on the front porch swing on a summer’s evening listening to the game with our dad.

–Barbara Sauers, Easton

Alexander Westmoreland: Work Hard to Play Hard

Hair stylist at The Style Lounge; Annapolitan by way of Baltimore; Navy veteran.

Our daddy-o lights up a room as soon as he walks in, and with his rock-star personality, stylish clothes, super-cool tattoos and electric smile he befriends strangers and treats them like they are his BFFs. Our first look at him is a morning preview on Facebook, as he posts 100 percent more than we do, capturing his vivacious personality and documenting the things that make him happy. Next we see him in person, for we have worked alongside our dad for over 25 years. A very hard worker who taught us that you work hard to play hard, he has always made family his No. 1 priority He is our inspiration, and we look forward to seeing him everyday.

–Heather Westmoreland and Rebecca Westmoreland Hughes