Monday, June 18, 2012

Good Dads

It is the day after Father's Day. I am so privileged and honored to be a dad. At this point in my life, I've become somewhat of an emotional sap and yesterday almost every time I called to mind one of my four (three from birth and now DIL) I got choked up.

So I don't need Father's Day. It's every day as far as I'm concerned. But thanks for the sentiment.


I have read a number of articles over the years about the "Top TV Dads."  TV Guide compiled a list a few years ago and there are a number of others floating out there.

There are two who tie for the best of the best TV dads as far as I'm concerned -- Sheriff Andy Taylor and John Walton.

Andy was a single dad and when he first came on the scene, Opie was just a little guy so had to have just lost his mom within the past few years. We never knew if Opie's mother died in childbirth or what happened, but Andy filled in beautifully. Aunt Bea performed the domestic duties of the household but she always deferred to Andy as Opie's parent.

Andy was gentle, kind and wise, but could be a firm disciplinarian when necessary. Opie knew his dad loved him and could laugh and joke with him, but he also knew who was boss. It never happened on screen, but there were references to, and it was clear that Andy had no problem with, rare corporal punishment when necessary.  

Andy set a positive example (even though he smoked in some of the early episodes). He was devoted to his job, revered and respected in the community, but knew how to balance his home and work life.

Andy married teacher Helen Crump when Opie was a young teenager (when "The Andy Griffith Show" was transitioning to "Mayberry RFD" and Andy was moving on, not long before Ron Howard reverted to the 1950s and became Richie Cunningham on "Happy Days").  But I doubt Helen was ever a true mother figure to Opie -- it was Andy who was there in his formative years.


John Walton definitely had a past. Before he married the refined Baptist Olivia, he had sewn more than a few wild oats. But Olivia was his prize and he straightened up to get her.

John had four sons and three daughters. It was tough during the depression, when the show opens, and John did whatever it took to piece together a living for his family. His primary occupation was the saw mill right there on Walton's Mountain but he also dabbled in farming and would barter his skills as a handyman on occasion.

The Walton children were no strangers to work and John saw that all of them did their chores before anything else. The boys, as well as John's father Zeb, all worked in the mill, and the girls milked the cow and worked under their mother and grandmother cooking and cleaning.

But John also knew how to have fun. He would take the whole crew over to the swimming hole and to picnics on the mountain. They would also gather in the evenings around the radio.

He was puzzled by John-Boy's aspirations to be a writer, but fully supportive. He worked and sacrificed so John-Boy could be the first one in the family to go to college. He supported all the other children in their endeavors as well.

Like me, he was emotional and could be drawn to tears or near tears in dealings with his family. He was a gentle disciplinarian but demanded respect for himself and Olivia.

In the later episodes, when Olivia contracted TB and was written out of the show, John became somewhat of a single parent but continued to be a strong rock for his family.

(As an aside, The Waltons was never the same after Olivia (Michael Learned) left and it got worse when they replaced Richard Thomas with John Wightman as John-Boy. Some TV shows could get away with it, but there was only one John-Boy. They would have done better just to write his character out completely. And they should have worked with Michael Learned to keep her on the show!).


I know, I know. It was only TV. But I appreciate that there was a time when networks saw the value of positive role models! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Here at my place, Wife and I still laugh when people ask if we are "empty nesters"  Maybe one day. For now, Daughter is still right here with us and Younger Son is in for the summer, home from his first year of college. We are happy to have these "little ones" right here under our roof. Between the two of them and various friends who are often here with them, there is plenty going on around here.

And Ralph the Dog, he who was given a few weeks to live three months ago?  He's sleeping at my feet even as I type and I don't believe he's going anywhere anytime soon. He's a little slow going up and down stairs and he sleeps a lot, but he's as alive as ever.

We had a delightful -- yet all too fast -- weekend last week with Older Son and DIL, who met us us in Little Rock, a good approximately-half-way-point between here and Dallas and, of course, our former home and still home of numerous friends and Wife's parents.


Our only all-family get-together this summer will be in mid-July when we all meet in Kansas City for a long weekend. We will attend two KC Royals baseball games, marking off another MLB park visited.

Haven't heard from blogger friend Michael ("Megaloi") in a while, but if you're out there, Michael, would love some info on what else we might do in KC.  Will be my first trip there.


We are getting ready for a neighborhood garage sale. Wife, Daughter and I spent a good part of yesterday pulling stuff together.  Wife asked where I would like to set up the "staging area," suggesting that we pull a car out of the garage.

We have, fortunately, always been able to park our cars in our garage since moving into this house 11 years ago, rather than storing so much stuff there that there's no room for a car or cars. With past houses we were not always that way.  Now don't get me wrong, we have plenty of other stuff in there besides cars but we have always been able to keep our cars there.

So at first I resisted, saying I didn't want to have to pull a car out for a week. That lasted maybe 15 minutes.

Much of what Daughter is putting in the sale is stuff she hasn't seen since she moved back home from college a year ago.  It's a lot of stuff and I am thrilled beyond words that she's willing to get rid of  some of it. So I can live with a crowded garage for the next week.

Once it's over, and I'm putting this in writing so everyone can see it and hold me accountable, nothing, and I mean NOTHING comes back in this house.  It goes to Goodwill or it gets thrown away.


We have had a beautiful weekend.  After a Memorial Day weekend that had near-record highs, this one has been gorgeous, barely climbing into the 70s.  It was very pleasant working in the garage yesterday and last night Wife and I went out to our local minor league ballpark and saw the Nashville Sounds play.

We weren't the only ones with that idea.  With a post-game fireworks show and the pleasant temperatures, it was an attractive draw for many Middle Tennesseans last night. The game was in the bottom of the third inning by the time we got off the interstate, parked, got our tickets and arrived at our seats.

It was a very pleasant night, though, and a good way to take advantage of the nice weather.