Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Maybe I have the gene for it...

Mom recently gave me a few things that had been collecting dust in her house. One of the items was this, a "bird book" that my Dad did back when he was little.
The cover:

The inside cover:
Pictures of kinglets, colored in crayon:

...and barn swallows...
...and crows.
There is no date to tell me exactly when he did these, but the coloring pages on some of the other sheets have a printing date of 1945, and Dad would have been 7 that year.
The pages came from leaflets distributed by the National Audubon Society, and the text was written by Roger Tory Peterson.
I always knew that Dad had an appreciation for nature, but it looks like it was cultivated early in his life...AT SCHOOL. (Sorry, can't help it) :)
It's bizzare to look at these childish scribblings and think of my Dad doing them. Two contrasting, and yet similar, images come to mind when I think about it:
One, Dad as a small boy, hunkered over the kitchen table at my grandparent's house, carefully and lovingly coloring these pictures of birds.
Two, Dad as an adult, hunkered over OUR kitchen table, carefully and lovingly drafting electrical schematics for a job he was doing.
Dad was careful in all that he did. A job worth doing was worth doing right.
He is responsible for half of my genetic code, and it makes me smile that one of those tiny DNA strands was a bird code. Thanks, Dad.


Anonymous said...

Daddy's little girl.

Glenn's son-in-law said...

Very sweet post. Your father would be touched. Of course, he'd make some brief sarcastic remark to hide any hint of being moved. (Glenn was cut from the same kind of cloth as John Wayne. We got along well, but he thought I was from another planet.)

LauraHinNJ said...

I've been waiting for you to write about your dad. I mean really write about him.

Nice surprise to see that you did tonight.


Did you inherit any of that schematics stuff, besides the bird code? Cause my dad was an electrical engineer and I know I didn't get any of that!

Susan Gets Native said...

Yes, I was a Daddy's girl...once.

Thanks for actually leaving a comment, hon! Your assessment of Dad is right on. He was kind, yet gruff.

I have had a hard time REALLY writing about Dad. I think I am still too pissed off that he is gone. And yes, I seem to have inherited a certain mechanical brain from him. I can fix things, but one way that it has manifested itself is my ease at learning anything medical. After all, our bodies are just soft machines. Interesting tidbit: I took an aptitude test in high school given to us by the Army, and the test said that I would have made a good tank mechanic!

Mon@rch said...

Sue - No doubt you have this in your genes! I loved that swallow picture and the colors on the kinglets! :)

Ruth said...

That school project is priceless and is a real treasure as a keepsake. So is you post about your dad.

Mary said...

I knew you would come out with it, Susan!

Such a sweet and thoughtful tribute. Your Dad is smiling right now and he would be so proud of your passion and happy to know you recognize and appreciate some shared genes.

The Swami said...

Very nice post. It also reenforces my belief that nothing done by children should EVER be discarded. Your mother deserves The Swami's honorary packrat award. (That is only one level below the pack animal award).

I believe that the last person to address Susan as Sue was duct-taped to a yak and sent packing.

Beth said...

Nice post!

NatureWoman said...

Very very cool, beyond cool - simply amazing! Thank you so much for sharing these priceless artifacts from your Dad and writing about him again. Cool. Very cool.

Anonymous said...

That is so cool. Thanks for sharing it. I'm wondering what that coloring book would go for on eBay these days! (A blank one not the precious, irreplaceable one with your dad's coloring in it!)

Nanner said...

When you write about your dad, it only makes us all miss him even more. Thanks for sharing...

laura said...

what an amazing gift to have something like this to hold and keep close.

jetison said...

Susan: I shared the same feelings as you with regards to seeing Glenn's book. So wonderful to see this side of him in contrast to the equally appreciated though more determined side we often saw. As an artist and as a connoisseur of 'outsider art' the cover is a real treasure !!

Geoff: I can relate ! I often felt somewhat intimidated in his presence and as though he wouldn't understand most of what I was about. But that proved untrue in reality - in his typical understated but generous way he appreciated more than I realized.

Susan Gets Native said...

Thanks so much for visiting my blog. The more the merrier! Didn't he do a good job with all those bird colors?

Thanks. A little tidbit...my Dad's mother's name was Ruth. So when you comment, it makes me think of her. And him.

I hope I inherited more than these bird genes. Dad was a lot like my friends' dads, but he was also one of a kind!

SWAMETTE is a pack rat??? That's the pot calling the kettle black.


Thanks. I always want to write about him, but I feel like I will get too maudlin, and also not do him justice.

I would LOVE to have original Peterson coloring books from the '40s. Cha-ching!

Nanners and Bobbers:
I'm so glad that a few of my blog readers actually knew Dad (and longer than I did, at that!). I miss him so much and when Mom is troubled by something with the business or the motor home, or that A-Hole she is suing, I just get so GD mad that Dad isn't here. And I think that he would think RAPTOR was awesome, and be quietly impressed that his daughter is handling dangerous birds.

Thanks. I'm not too sentimental about things, but I know the value of my Dad's mementos, and hold them VERY close.

Patrick Belardo said...

Wow, what a special thing to have.