Vivid recollections that have withstood the passage of time …

While not in so many words, I have sung praises of my father in various memoirs I’ve written pertaining to my adolescence during the Sixties. Of foremost importance, writing them enabled me to reminisce and attempt to recapture what inevitably gets lost in transcription because you had to be there.

In “Two Backseat Barbarians,” commemorating one of many summer road trips my family took in our Plymouth Suburban station wagon, I mentioned how my father would draw an imaginary Maginot Line along the backseat to keep my sister and me at our respective windows. The gesture did little to quell our arguments on family trips, prompting my dad to pull over along the highway to discipline both of us and inflict shame by calling us “barbarians.”

In that vein, I’ll detour to “Day Trippin’” – the memoir relating how I petitioned for a road trip to Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts on the heels of having finished reading Little Women. A memorable event for boring my sister to death and flabbergasting my father for its lack of thrills.

“The Melt-Down” reveals that any ice cream pit stop was against my father’s better judgment due to a double entendre melt-down: one from the inevitable mishaps perpetrated by my sister wielding an ice cream cone; the other being the fit my dad would take on behalf of upholstery.

“M-m-m, Burgers!” highlights our Sunday joy rides hither, thither, and yon. Since my dad’s hobby was acquiring and restoring Tin Lizzies, the leisurely drive gave him a chance to show off his handiwork while attracting potential buyers for those magnificent machines that once careened around corners gangsta style. I’ll never forget our magnificently restored, shiny blue 1932 Buick.

What I may not have mentioned in those one hundred memoirs is that I did not inherit my father’s mechanical aptitude or artistic talent by a long shot. Hence, I recruited him to do all the legwork on my school science projects while I researched information and wrote the report. One of his most memorable presentations was a display board of the solar system where different-sized ball bearings represented each planet, and blackened alphabet-soup letters configured the names for each planet.

From my blog, “Eva’s Byte # 7: Misery on the Nelesco,” whatever possessed my dad to suggest a trip to Block Island via a ferry from Port o’ Providence, I’ll never know. None of us were dressed for the elements to endure a four-hour excursion each way aboard the seafaring vessel.

Though my father passed away when my sister and I were quite young, an excerpt from the memoir, “My Checkered Past,” best exemplifies the legacy he left behind: I distinctly remember hopscotching throughout 1965 at the age of fourteen. Most Friday evenings my father and I would engage in a game of checkers. We’d clear off the coffee table and set up the board. My dad, the king of his castle, sat on the edge of the sofa in our den; I kneeled on the carpet. Though checkers is a simple game, there is much strategizing along the diagonal to become a good player: forced capture, defense of king’s lane along the back row, and moving behind your own to block.

Now, my father never told me any of this whatsoever. During our initial games, he slaughtered me within minutes, all the while focusing more of his attention on the TV set. Over the ensuing weekly checker matches, I gradually caught on. I guarded myself against his triple moves. I finally infiltrated his back row and smugly commanded, “King me!” Then, the unthinkable—one evening, I beat him! The thrill of victory! I never doubted the genuineness of this “crowning” achievement for a fleeting second because my dad never allowed my sister and me to “win our own way” in any event.

My checkered past still haunts me through lessons best learned the hard way. Nothing worth attaining in life is easy, so often achieved by blood, sweat, and tears. If victories were handed to us on a silver platter, there would be no crowning glory. Thanks, dad!

Taken from the Acknowledgements Page of my second novel, An Enlightening Quiche— As always, heartfelt thanks to: My late father and namesake, Pasco, for the independent streak he instilled in me.

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