Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Pappy at 90

 On Friday, January 28th, my dad will be 90. 

I happen to look like my dad; thing is, we both look like his grandmother.  This is not necessarily a good thing.

I have inherited some of his skills. I write. I build things. I've managed a physical plant. I have a black sense of humor just like his, and I have embarrassed my children by saying wildly, albeit funny, inappropriate things in public places. That last thing is not necessarily something of which I am proud, but like the Village Idiot at Sturbridge Village, it is the stuff of family legend.

Private Sidney

My dad was a telegrapher in World War II. He was in tank during the Battle of the Bulge and when they took the bridge at Remagen. After the war, he managed to hold on to his key and his oscillator. By first grade, I could spell in English and Morse code. A fine, classical skill.

My dad taught me to shape wood and sand it to a fine finish. We built boats and took them to Salisbury Park where they promptly sank. And we laughed. Oh, how we laughed. 

My dad used to take me surf casting for bluefish at the crack of dawn, armed with no bait other than squashed bread balls. Never caught a damn thing, but that really wasn't the point. It was the joy of standing on the beach with a bunch of other deranged people throwing fishing lines into the Atlantic Ocean. 

My dad taught me to write. I, have, a, pocket, full, of, commas, to, prove, it. If you subscribe to this blog because you like how I say what I say, then thank my dad. I do. Every time I write a sentence, a fragment, or a verse. He also taught me to draw, mix color, and generally be creative.

My dad taught me to foxtrot. This was an important skill because in my day, all we did was bounce up and down, gyrate, and shake various body parts in assorted, seemingly random, directions. Old fashioned dancing came in handy at various social functions, like Happy Pappy Weekend at Skidmore, not to mention my own wedding. I like dancing with my dad...either while standing atop his shoes or stepping on his toes. Not to be left out, he did learn to shake a few body parts, although we always thought he looked really weird doing it.

Zayde holding baby Misha

My dad is a terrific Zayde. He’s been telling the boys terrible jokes since they were born and sent handmade books with tapes narrated by him and Mom, for which he dusted off the ol’ make-up stories and invented new ones. He turned a plain, ol’ RX-7 into the Radish Rocket. 

Misha, Baby David and a Theatre Box!

Zayde with  Baby David the groom

My dad made boys-band marching hats, batman masks, clubhouses complete with a cable TV hookup, would-be rabbit proof fences and gardens with cucumbers and string beans for the guys to pick and eat on the spot.

My dad is the keeper of key words. Just say Brown Bonnet, Lousy Lucy’s, or village idiot and we start snickering. You have to hang around my dad to see a joke beaten into the ground, only to be reincarnated as a gag avatar. We are a family of verbal shorthand and acronyms. Most are attributable to my dad.

Three generatons.

My dad is a great dad. He gives my brother, my kids, and me an unshakable sense of security and continuity. He is always there for us, and was always for my husband…so much so that at the end of his life, my dad was one of very few people Steve asked to see one last time. And my folks came. That made all the difference in the world.  My dad makes all the difference in the world.

My folks

And just to be fair, my mom gets a prize for putting up with him for 68 of those 90 years. Really. It’s a challenge. Key words: New Jersey Rest Stop.

To my dad, there is only one thing to say:  
Happy, happy birthday and B.O.G.C.A.A.T.J.*

Wifely Person's Tip O' the Day
 Be of good cheer and all that jazz!

Please feel free to leave birthday wishes as comments!



  1. I loved every word. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful guy and my favorite Republican.

  2. I love your tribute! Happy Birthday Mr. S.

    xoDiz DiVita

  3. I loved this. I am so jealous of how beautifully you write. Your dad is a wonderful uncle, too. Happy Birthday.

    Cuzin' Barb

  4. It is truly a blessing to have both of your parents alive and well and still living together after all these years. By pure coincidence, my Dad is also going to be 90 this week (and still married to my Mom), although I'm not sure he's as incredible as yours sounds. However, my Dad is a champion bowler and I would like to propose a match against yours -- does he bowl? Can he still beat his age?

    Happy Birthday to both of them!

  5. My dad bowls, too! And oy! What a bowler! We should set up a match. You know where the Red Herring Lanes are?

  6. What a great way to start my day. Dad's are special. Happy Birthday to your dad!! What a great birthday card. Carol

  7. It's pretty easy to see why you are as bright, talented and witty as you are. So what happened to your no-goodnik brother???


  8. The sisterly personJanuary 25, 2011 at 8:05 AM


    Do you _really_ want me to answer that?

    I'm just sayin' ......

  9. Lucky Sidney, lucky Susan :):):)

    Gorgeous tribute

  10. What a gorgeous tribute to your dad, who looks like he signed up for the military right after his Bar Mitzvah!

    Many happy returns, Sid! עד 120!

  11. Nobody can be uncheered after reading this tribute to your dad. Happy 90th Birthday to a fine American!


  12. In case you're wondering: I just called my father to wish him a happy birtday, and was told by my mother that I could not speak to him because it is, after all Friday morning, and I should know that he's bowling.

    You gotta love these nonagenarians!

  13. We loved every line of it and at 90, he still going strong with every embarrassing incident. There's only one like him.

    Aunty G and Unk

  14. 90 & Counting

    He’s a wee bit old; some say he’s crass
    Others would say he’s a pain in the (neck)

    Yes, he’s our Dad and we love him dearly
    And pay homage to him at this time yearly.

    But this year it’s special – we even flew down
    So we could all enjoy a night on the town.

    So let’s toast el Sid, that blind-bowling Aquarian
    Cause he’s now a wild & crazy Nonagenarian.

    But Dad while you’re celebrating
    that great 90’s life
    Don’t forget to be nice
    to your fabulous, much younger wife!


  15. Late but Happy Birthday!! The words radiate love.

  16. A beautiful story of our father.He would be proud. Dina