We were raised in a Catholic open-minded home where nothing was taboo. My father like his parents, was a free spirit who loved to talk about everything & anything under the sun. I suspect that much of his personality was due to his own upbringing because my grandparents had many of the same ideals & interests as he did.
His absolute favorite things in the world were his hobbies & I was lucky enough to have him share his passions with me.
old time radio
comedy: Jim Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin & George Carlin
He loved to read about any subject that piqued his interest. My father & his parents would read everyday & I too grew up with a love of books & writing. For example, I remember seeing a copy of Dianetics by Ron L Hubbard on the dining room table downstairs & Rosicrucian information on one of the end tables tables upstairs. I used to spend hours pouring over his Time Life Old West series that he got in the mail. He had other book series from Time Life but those were my favorite ones. I also liked to read his old Fate magazines from the 50s & 60’s.
His love of the paranormal ran deep. My father enjoyed listening to the Ghost Hunter Richard Crowe on WGN. That was his favorite radio station. One time when we were in downtown Chicago on our way to The Science & Industry Museum, he told me the story of Resurrection Mary in Chicago. I was young & I never forgot that story. I remember looking at all of my father’s books & listening to stories & thinking some of it sounds scary but interesting! Later on in the 90’s my father liked Art Bell to listen to. Art Bell became someone that I also enjoy listening to today. I used to be afraid to listen at bedtime but now it no longer bothers me unless it’s a show about EVP. That’s freaky.
We used to go fishing together on the Fox River & off of the piers at Lake Michigan near our house. If we caught any fish we always put them back. To this day I still recall that one early morning that we went fishing on Lake Michigan. I can feel the morning sun on my face, the smell of the lake & the feeling of the wet rocks in my hand that I found on the beach. I can still hear the waves crashing against the piers & the seagulls crying as they flew above us. Sometimes when we were done fishing at the lake we would go to the park & I would swing for a little bit while we talked.
When we went fishing on the Fox River my grandma would occasionally come along with us. She would pack us a picnic lunch & we would eat in the little park that was on the river. Other times we ate on the hood of my father’s 1972 red Chevy Impala. Afterwards, I remember taking walks over to the dam to watch the water. That was cool to see. There were days when just my father & I would stop for breakfast at George Webb or some other little diner after fishing. I would usually sleep upstairs the night before & then around 5 a.m. we would go fishing at 1 of those places.
We used to go to Kmart a lot in our neighborhood. Kmart was the Walmart of the 70s, 80s & 90’s. I liked to look at all the fishing lures with my father & he always let me pick out a bunch of pretty ones that I wanted for when we went fishing. He even bought me a fishing pole with a new casting reel once or twice. There was one item at Kmart that I always wanted growing up & that was a guinea pig. Sadly, my father would never buy me one because we already had a dog & that was enough he said. This was probably the only thing that I never got that I always wanted. As a kid I never begged or pleaded or got upset when I was told I couldn’t have something. My reaction was usually O.K. & I tried to hide my displeasure. Sure, I was disappointed but I knew better than to keep on about it unlike my sister.
Sleeping upstairs on a weekend was a semi-regular deal for me. The upstairs house had a fairly decent sized back porch & in the summer late at night my father would show me how to identify The North Star, Orion the Hunter & the Big/Little Dippers. When each of my girls were little & could understand about stars, the first constellation I taught them to spot was Orion the Hunter. My father also had me watching Cosmos with Carl Sagan & 3, 2, 1 Contact with him when I was 9 in 1980. Those were good shows & Cosmos was my favorite. Every Christmas on my winter break right before the big day I would sleep upstairs & my father & I would watch the 1938 Christmas Carol. He would always take a week off from work for all of our school vacations.
I would watch other shows with my father like Sanford & Son, the original Star Trek, The Twilight Zone & the miniseries Centennial. Centennial is one of my favorite miniseries ever. I first saw this show in 1978 at age 7 & it was shortly after viewing this that my father introduced me to our family genealogy. Watching this show had such a deep impact on my young life. James Michener wrote Centennial & my father & grandpa were big fans. They had all of his books. I had the complete series on VHS but a few years ago I bought it on DVD & also bought the book. My father made another family tradition with me to watch Centennial every year since he first tapped it on the VCR. And yes, I’ve kept the tradition alive with my girls.
At age 7 is when my father brought out the boxes with our family history items. He told me as much of our family history as he could. My father started digging deeper into our family roots when he had graduated from high school & had an impressive amount of papers as well as heirlooms. Roughly twice a year he pulled everything out of the kitchen closet for me to look at & each time retold the stories over again. This is where I became obsessed with genealogy. It started with the miniseries Centennial but our family history really drove it home for me. This past May I had my AncestryDNA done & was quite happy but a little surprised at my results. I’m now the family genealogist & keeper of all the papers & heirlooms. My father gave me everything almost 10 years ago.
I remember sitting at a very young age with my father in the kitchen upstairs & having a conversation about religion. I would ask him who is God, where did he come from & what does he look like. First, my father would always ask what my thoughts were on the subject. Then he gave me honest answers like no one really knows who God is, where he came from or what he actually looked like. Afterwards, he would tell me what he was taught while attending Catholic Church school & his words lined up with what I was taught in CCD classes but still I wondered. I was never 100% convinced of what religion taught.
My father would then go as far as saying that perhaps God is a supernatural being from another world. My young mind was blown. He felt that God just didn’t create us on Earth & that he had to have created other beings in the galaxy. I admit that this crossed my little mind as well because it just made sense to me. The conversation would then quickly switch from God to aliens & UFOs. These topics were highly fascinating to me throughout my childhood & still are to this day. Spirituality has always played a huge part in my life.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that I would sleep upstairs on weekends? Well, my sister & I would watch Saturday Night Live in the living room. This was in 1976+ when they had skits like Samurai Bakery, The Coneheads, The Blues Brothers, Roseanne Roseannadanna on Weekend Update, many Jaws skits & Steve Martin would be a frequent guest. I also remember their funny commercials like Quarry Cereal & a spoof of a Heinz 57 Variety Ketchup ad. We also watched Second City T.V. Goodtimes. Once & a while my father would watch for a bit with us & then go back into the kitchen to listen to whatever radio show he had on.
I’ll never forget the first movie that I saw at the theater with my father, grandma & sister. It was The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 at age 9. Hans Solo-it was all about Harrison Ford for me & my sister! Just one of my many girlhood crushes. This movie theater in the next city over had blue twinkling lights on the ceiling & I thought they were so pretty! We went there often during my childhood. We did have a movie theater in our little suburb but they didn’t have blue twinkling lights like the other theater.
My father had kept his old cameras from his childhood & young adulthood & we would take photographs around the suburb where we lived. He would tell me what the neighborhood looked like when he was a kid & he would have me stand in front of the building while he took a picture. I believe this is where my love of photography came in, something that I passed to all 3 of my girls.
My father loved music & was very open to my musical preferences when I was between the ages of 10-17. He knew of almost all of the artists that I listened to. We got cable with MTV when I was 11. We had it in both the upstairs & downstairs houses. Since my sister was 5 years older than me I got into music at a younger age. My father & grandma always made it a point to take us to the Wisconsin State Fair & Summerfest each summer so we could see our favorite bands perform. When Monsters of Rock came to Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin in 1988 I was 17. My sister was so upset because she couldn’t go but I was able to. My father bought my first acoustic guitar at age 12-thanks to Eddie Van Halen whom I heard play Pretty Woman for the first time at age 10. My father went on to pay for guitar lessons for two years & encouraged my singing from the ages of 12-17 years old. I then set my sights on becoming the next Pat Benatar.
I spent many hours listening to my father’s music with him. Some of his favorite musical acts/genres that I recall were:
The Big Bopper
Charlie Daniels Band
Simon & Garfunkel
There are 2 songs that I feel strongly attached to through my father.
1. Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence (1964) is a song that he used to play quite a lot & I remember being 6 to 8 years old, listening to it & thinking how sad the lyrics were. It’s a beautiful song but makes me cry every time. To me it was just a haunting song of sadness & regret.
2. Charlie Daniels Band’s The Devil Went Down To Georgia. When this song came out he played it all the time!
All in all I would say that I got a very good education when I was home after school, on the weekends & during school vacations. I received it from not only my father but my grandparents as well. I’ve always considered myself very well rounded, curious & open minded.
Part 3 to be continued.