Friday, June 18, 2010

Memory Lane Friday - My Dad

This week's Memory Lane Friday topic is about "My Dad."

He's the guy that my brother Alex and I think of when watching The Lion King. There's a part where Simba has gotten into trouble with the hyenas, and Mufasa has to come in and rescue him. Later, Simba mentions that the hyenas were pretty scared of Mufasa. And Mufasa says, "Nobody messes with your Dad!" That reminds Alex and me of the kind of guy our dad is.

So what do I say about my dad? Well, I have a lot of stories, so I'll just have to narrow them down to just a few.

 Here's a picture of the two of us. I must've been around 4.
 This must've been about the time we moved to Wilmette, IL.

 Here's a funny photo of Dad as he's floating at the lake house, Lake Ozark, MO, circa mid-90s.

First, as you can see in the photo above . . . I have to say that he's the kind of guy who would be the instigator in something super fun . . . but this thing (whatever it might be) would also be high on the list of "Mom won't like this!" activities.

For instance, in a previous Memory Lane Friday about A Family Vacation, I recalled that he served us ice cream, M&Ms, and Twizzlers for breakfast one morning before skiing. That same trip, he took us to eat nothing but cookies and milk for lunch one day. And then to top it off, we went to this funky, weird place called "The Irish Camel" that served awful Mexican food!

He is also the guy who is up for seeing movies - action, adventure, space - anything fun, fast, and loud. I remember seeing the original 3 Star Wars movies, Jaws 3D, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Terminator 2, probably a couple Star Trek movies, stuff like that. Anytime a fun movie was out, we could count on Dad to take us to it.

At the movie theater, he always used to get the HUGE vat container of popcorn - the biggest one - with butter, and one huge soda. He'd have us all share it, though we always complained that we wanted our own individual sodas. Nope. That wasn't going to happen. One big popcorn and one big soda (with one straw) to share among all of us.

One time, he'd gone to get the popcorn and soda, and when he got back to the aisle where we were sitting, he tripped and dumped the whole container of popcorn on my sister's head. She was SO mad! She must've been around 8 years old, and would not stop complaining the entire movie, but the rest of us thought it was hilarious. We couldn't stop snickering about it, and that made her angrier!

Then there's the side of him that gives good (or tries to give good) advice.

When I was a student at Culver Girls Academy, in Culver, IN, I was a member of the Culver Equestriennes. This team does mounted drills to music.

To be a member of this organization, a rider must be enrolled in the Horsemanship department, and must meet or exceed a certain GPA, maintain a high level of horsemanship, and maintain a "citizenship grade" of B or higher. Riders may try out for the team after a semester in the Horsemanship department.

 The Culver Equestriennes. I'm in the line closest to the camera, third from the right.

Well, my friend Rosann and I had been members of the Equestriennes since the second semester of our Freshman year. At the end of our Junior year, just before the final ride the week of graduation, it was time to elect the new senior captain (out of the current juniors) for our Senior year on the team.

Since we'd been teammates since our freshman year (as were only one or two other teammates), Rosann and I wanted to run as co-captains. Our Freshman year, we had co-captains lead the team. We just knew we could run the team effectively as co-captains. But the coach said no, without reason. We pressured her to tell us why we couldn't and the answer was basically, "Because I said so. End of conversation."

Rosann and I were understandably upset, but ran as individuals.

When it was finally time to vote (right before we were to go out to the stables to mount up for the final ride of our junior year), we nervously voted.

And then just before we entered the arena as a team, the coach told us the results. It was a third girl who had won. She had gotten 6 votes, Rosann and I each got 4 votes, and then other girls got the remaining votes. Rosann and I were so upset. If we had run as co-captains, we could've gotten 8 votes (possibly more) and would've won!

But we had a performance to ride. I put on my best and biggest smile (we were always encouraged to smile big for all performances . . . besides, it was fun!), even though I just wanted to cry.

After the performance, we had to quickly get the horses ready for the Culver Lancers (the boys' mounted drill team). Then we could go up to the balcony to meet our families.

I'm pretty sure I forced out a half-hearted "Congratulations!" to the girl who became captain, a classmate of Rosann's and mine, with as big a smile as I could forcefully plaster on my face. I'd been trying to avoid her, but we were in the stables together, so it was inevitable.

One of my friends, Debra, who a classmate of mine and also on the team, said, "You should've won. If it makes you feel any better, I voted for you." So did my friend, Brenda, a senior who'd be graduating in a couple days, also a teammate.

Then I headed up to the balcony to find my parents. I think I gave them a short, snippy, "So-'n'-so won. She's captain," as we watched the other teams perform.

But in the car, as my parents drove me back to my dorm, I couldn't hold back the flood anymore and I burst into tears. I was so heartbroken (and mad). I explained how Rosann and I wanted to be co-captains, but the coach said no, and then I explained all the rest of the drama.

My dad then tried to explain that it's usually not the best riders (or football/hockey/soccer players, or whatever sport it is) that get to be captain . . . it's the most popular ones. He went on to tell me I had a gift - I was such an accomplished equestrian, having won awards (which was just the icing on the cake), that I could practically ride in my sleep, that it was so effortless for me. This was more important than holding a "captain" title for a year.

Then he explained that when he was on the football team, he was considered to be a talented football player. But when he ran for the captain position, he didn't get it. It went to the most popular guy on the team who was just an average player, at best. So he knew what it felt like, and wanted me to understand it had nothing to do with my horsemanship ability.

I didn't believe him at the time, thinking he was just saying that to get me to stop crying. But as time wore on, and the sting wore off, I could see his point. I found out later, after talking with Rosann, that a similar event happened with her and her parents, and that her dad gave her a very similar story.

Well, then there's how my dad leads by example. He'd received a commission in the Army back in the day. He was the only one in my family with a commission. All the rest of my family members served honorably and bravely as a part of the enlisted corps.

But since I'd be going to college and since I had a strong urge to join the military and serve my country, I knew I'd follow in his footsteps and get a commission, too. But I went Air Force, not Army (or Navy) like all my relatives before me.

Since my dad had been a Major in the Army, I decided that when it was time for me to graduate from Officer Training School, I wanted him to administer my oath of office. It was the same one that recited when he raised his right hand and accepted his commission. It's the same one Andrew took when he was commissioned. It's actually very similar to the one that each U.S. President recites on Inauguration Day.

Here's my dad as he administers my oath on 19 Nov 1999.
 My mom took this photo of us.

Here he is as he pins on my Second Lieutenant rank.

So my dad, the Army Major, administered my oath of office, and pinned on my new rank (which he also did at each of my promotion ceremonies).

This is a common bond that he and I share. He's said on occasion that none of his other kids ever followed this example of his . . . and he's said this with a grin on his face. So I'm the only family member to share this common bond.

So there you have it . . . a not-so-brief snapshot of my dad. But before I sign off . . . check out a couple photos of my dad when he was much younger.

 Here he is as a little boy, less than a year old.

 Here he is when he was about 17 in Auburn, NY.

And here is one more from when I got married in 2002:

Wedding photo © 2002 Brad Baskin

Before you go, please click on the box to read this week's other Memory Lane Friday posts:

1 comment:

varunner said...

What great stories! I particularly like that he administered your oath! And also that he has a lake float almost just like mine ;-)
I really love the pic of him on the pony. So priceless.

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