My dad and I were pretty different people, though we certainly had much in common as well. We both loved sports, mostly baseball and football, but I also enjoy hockey (including skating myself), skiing, tennis, racquetball, lacrosse, and during the World Cup, soccer. Pops called soccer “a communist sport” while we were growing up and ironically one of my sisters played on the first women’s high school team at my high school. Communist sport or not, he was proud of her.
Pops collected knives, watches and guns. He also really liked antique cars from the ‘50’s. I collected baseball cards….and that was about it. Oh, stamps for a little while. Not that I didn’t like guns, but it never seemed all that necessary to own one much less a dozen. Now I do own one though and will probably get a second. Knives just seemed a bit odd to me to collect and I was never a big fan of watches, though my dad collected pocket watches which seem to have some redeeming quality about them. Grandpa Sutton worked on the trains and I think that’s where my dad got an affinity for pocket watches. Some of the pocket watches he collected were actually pretty cool.
The Fox network received most of my dad’s attention, while I prefer actual news. Regardless of how much I loved him, he was always able to fall prey to the tripe they peddle and how they peddle it. I guess that’s the point (as to why they exist) and why they make money hand over fist. Nothing irritated him more than when I would send him a Snopes link that would completely dismiss a “fact” he heard on Fox as complete hokum. Though I took some joy in it, I really just wanted him to find another news source so we could have intelligent conversations about current events. But you weren’t going to change dad’s mind….on pretty much anything!
We both had great senses of humor though, enjoyed Seinfeld WAYYY too much, loved watching football, enjoyed a good baseball game, loved my kids and a good bowl of chili. Loved getting the family together at the holidays and giving gifts. Neither of us were too good at receiving gifts.
Speaking of which, I’m reminded of probably the best gift I ever gave someone and certainly the best I ever gave my dad. It was a Christmas gift and involved baseball. My dad was 13 in 1949 and he was collecting baseball cars, despite not having much money. Cards were not very expensive, but if you’re poor, everything is expensive. Pops collected just about half the set of 1949 Bowman’s, the second year of baseball cards printed in color. Fast forward to the mid 1970’s and my dad has a wife working the second shift, he has two jobs himself while taking college classes and oh yeah, they have three kids. Those roughly 100 baseball cards from his childhood fetched $100, which would make a wonderful Christmas for his family or buy food for nearly a month. There was no decision to be made and he sold the cards.
Fast forward again, this time to 30 years or so. While going through some papers, we came across a list of those baseball cards typed up by my mom. I asked what it was and they relayed the story to me. I was crushed, especially knowing how I felt about the cards I collected as a child. So over the next few years, given a list of the cards that my mom had saved, I bought every card he had sold, and then some. I like to think that at least one of them was actually one of the cards that he owned. Until the day he died, it was the only gift I saw him open that made him tear up.