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A Little Fatherly Advice
June, 2012

With only a week left to remind our kids of how magnificently we dads have exemplified the great institution of fatherhood, I offer a few poignant reminders, lest the ingrates forget, as usual.

My own paternal foundation includes some notable patresfamilias. From dear old Dad himself, may he rest in peace, who personally defeated Hitler and liberated Europe from behind the turret gun of a Sherman Tank, to famous Big Daddy car guys, politicos and fathers of broken families who sit and wait.

Clad in the black Rat Fink T shirt my kids got me last year, I opine about Big Daddy Ed Roth, famous designer of wild bodied, multi-engine hot rods of the 1960s. A tear wells up as I recall meeting Big Daddy in San Jose in 1974. Sadly, he rode off to the big junkyard in the sky in 2001 but hundreds of his biker and car fans fondly remember him at annual Rat Fink reunions. A man I know reminisces about drag racing against another famous automotive Big Daddy, Don Garlits, the legendary “Swamp Rat,” not to be confused with Roth’s Rat Fink. I don’t know what it is about Big Daddies and rats but there it is.

On a very worthy note, hats off to the Center for Restorative Justice Works and thousands of volunteers behind the “Get On The Bus” program. Next Saturday, they’ll be taking kids from all over California to Father’s Day visits with their dads incarcerated in California prisons, including Soledad and Salinas Valley State Prison. The program was reported in the “Off 68” section of the Californian’s website and is worth a read. Thousands of kids and dads throughout the state will be reunited after many years; some will literally be meeting each other for the first time. Trips from all over California to Soledad can be few and far between so it’s a huge deal for families sorely needing reunions and reconciliation, if only for a few hours in a prison visiting room.

This fathering business has been around since Father Time invented the sundial. Religion tells us there was Adam, the father of humanity, God the Father notwithstanding. We’ve had the Church Fathers of the third century, many Holy Fathers since then and their evil adversary, the Father of Lies. Meantime in the East, Lao Tzu was the Father of Taoism, and Gautama, the father of Buddhism. Then there’s Father Abraham whom just about everyone this side of the Gobi Desert claims as their great progenitor.

We’ve had George Washington, the Father of Our Country, and his compatriots, the Founding Fathers. There have been Fathers of the Year; fathers of psychology, geometry, electricity, aviation, the atom bomb, space travel, the cell phone, industrial design, the internet and hundreds of others. Me, I’m the father of four. We also have “City Fathers,” like Big Daddy Dennis Donohue, the father of Salinas, I suppose, who will shortly leave a legacy as the burly guy with the wavy hair who never buttoned his top button. Am I the only one who’s annoyed by that nostalgic 70s cool?

Even Native American fathers showed remarkable respect when they referred to the leader of the double tongues in Washington as the Great White Father. Well, that’s only half true these days but the double tongue part is as perfectly clear as ever.

There’s always the other, darker side, of course. Way too many deadbeat dads would rather party, watch sports, play games or do just about anything but respect women and spend time with their kids. Man up, fool, your boy wants to show you something. Honor those guys at your own risk.

Meantime, make the Old Man happy next week. Butter him up with a nice tie, some socks or a tool, wrapped in this column. Then hit him up for a few bucks to tide you over.┬áHe’ll be happy to help.