Posts tagged “Dad

As You Go Through Life

For all the lovers of poetry out there. I was rummaging through some old files and came across my father’s favorite. Poem that is. Even though he knew it line-by-line he kept a crumpled copy stuffed away in a bulging leather wallet. Going through our family record I saw an original that he had typed out on an old Remington typewriter. I read it again for the first time. To know this poem is to know my Father. Humble. Direct. Wisdom drawn from experience. Appropriately titled: “As you go through life.”

Don’t look for the flaws as you go through life;
And even when you find them,
It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind
And look for the virtue behind them.
For the cloudiest night has a hint of light
Somewhere in its shadows hiding;
It is better by far to hunt for a star,
Than the spots on the sun abiding.

The current of life runs ever away
To the bosom of God’s great ocean.
Don’t set your force ‘gainst the river’s course
And think to alter its motion.
Don’t waste a curse on the universe –
Remember it lived before you.
Don’t butt at the storm with your puny form,
But bend and let it go o’er you.

The world will never adjust itself
To suit your whims to the letter.
Some things must go wrong your whole life long,
And the sooner you know it the better.
It is folly to fight with the Infinite,
And go under at last in the wrestle;
The wiser man shapes into God’s plan
As water shapes into a vessel.

Death of a Brand

R.I.P. Pontiac.  It has gone the way of the mullet.  That was part of the problem.  Think of one and you eerily begin to think of the other.

The venerable brand that brought us the GTO, the TransAm, and many iconic V-8 muscle cars is quietly being put to rest.

What happened?  Seems to me that the Pontiac was the case of the non-adaptive brand.  Think StudebakerEdselSaturn (one of which I still own!).

pontiac logoAdaptive brands change, morph, reconfigure and adjust to the times.  They broaden their aperture and constantly develop new points of relevance.

A good — should I say ‘classic? — example is Coca-Cola.  A Coke bottle would feel just at home in a Frank deCapra movie as it would Mad Men or Jersey Shore.  It has a palette of personalities, images, and experiences that is so vast it fits in every context, every emotion, every age.  As one of its many taglines put it, “Coke is Life!”

Then there are the brands that adapt in a more sudden even violent manner.  Here are three I remember from my youth.  (BTW, my youth was a very long time ago.)

Mountain Dew.  Back then, Mountain Dew was the hillbilly 7-Up.  It was tank tops, cut off jeans and a tire swing into an Arkansas mill pond on a hot summer day.  It was syrupy with a funny yellow color.  Most of all, it was cheap.

Old Spice. That was my father’s brand.  Ironically (or iconically!) my Dad was a sailor, a Chief Petty Officer, WWII veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was a mans man.  He went to the barber shop monthly, shunned shaving creme (hot soapy water worked just fine) and was suspicious of cologne (Old Spice was an after shave).

Cadillac.  Our German-Italian neighbor in New Orleans, Mr. Doescher, drove a Cadillac.  Mr. Doescher was a devout Catholic.  He was also the head of a longshoreman’s union with shadowy wealth that combined with strong middle-class, blue collar values.  You could find him every Saturday in his t-shirt and boxers watering his lawn with a garden hose.

That was then.  Now is now.  Today all three of these brands are edgy, hip, young and very, very current.  They are X-games, retro-cool, hip-hop and — in the case of Cadillac — a dash of classic rock and roll.

For Pontiac, something got lost in the transition from the Grand Prix to the Vibe.

It stayed Smokey and the Bandit in a world of Glee and Dexter.

Rest In Peace.

A Memorial Day post

Today is Memorial Day.  Most people know it as the beginning of summer.  The day that marks the end of semester seasons and the beginning of  trips, vacations, heat, humidity, and summer storms.  It is Rolling Thunder, it is Joe and Kathy’s clambake, it is an extra day to get caught up on laundry and cleaning the yard.

Of course it is supposed to be about remembering those who died on the battlefield.  People who died in military service.  People who risked and gave their life for something more than the ordinary, mundane, and simple things of life that most of us — including me! — spend our time obsessing with every day.

It is supposed to be a day to remember that there were people in our history — people in our lives — that gave up everything to protect a friend, fight someone’s battle, defend an idea.  We need to remember those people.  Not just because they deserve it.  But because we can learn from them.

This Memorial Day I think of my father.  He didn’t die on the battlefield.  If he had I wouldn’t be alive to write this.  But he gave up a lot for me, my family, and the county he loved.  He survived Pearl Harbor.  He survived Midway.  He made it through the battle of the Philippines.   And after WWII,  he made it through the Korean War.  He didn’t die in combat although he easily could have.  He was just lucky.

Today we should think about those whose luck ran out; whose children we never born; whose life and legacies ended in service to their country.

I took a moment this morning to read the post I submitted about my father in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Project.  I looked at an 18-year-old who quit high school to enlist as a soldier.  I read (again) the simple, small card that was the only thing he could send his mom after surviving the attack on December 7th.  And I reread the letter he wrote five days later.   “They started this war and we’re going to finish it!”  That was Dad, pure and simple.  Well, we did.  Dad survived.  But a half million of his fellow military service members did not.

So spend a few minutes today to remember all those who decided to serve a greater cause to defend — as best they could — their country.  And especially those who forfeited their life in service to us all.

Say thank you.  And hope that we can develop the same spirit within us to pass down to the next generation.