Saturday, July 19, 2008
Slide night :: funky father
This is my Dad in the early 1980s, when he was starting up a Lutheran secondary school in Hamilton, in rural Victoria. He's looking decidedly understated here - some of his ties and shirts were eye-searing; I particularly remember a short sleeve bodyshirt with maroon paisley, taken from his dead father-in-law's wardrobe and worn until all too recently. Also fond memories of a leather jacket that I appropriated and wore with a very funky edge (or so I like to think).
My Dad kept a bottle of cordial at work. He has a sweet tooth but with two hyperactive kids in the family, there was a strict 'no red anything' rule in the house. Dad would have a sneaky shot at work, the way some men take whiskey on the sly.
So this is one half of where my food culture comes from. This is clear from his post, here, on eating, traveling and in the end, family. What the man doesn't mention is that when he travels he is always good for an ice cream or a beer (although suggested, perhaps, in the number of memories that include sweeties of some description). This makes him a most excellent traveling companion; he's not a man to save five dollars and potentially miss out on a good strawberry ice cream or an iconic sausage. (And what is a trip away without an iconic sausage in the mix?)
Dad, Al and I traveled together in Germany a few years ago and save for his driving, which often left me praying or in tears (he's had his cataracts done since then), it was great. He speaks German fluently and can be awfully charming when he wants to be - thus, we stayed in places, heard from people and had meals Al and I could not have negotiated ourselves. The backbone of my black and white photo collection came from this trip and in particular, a small junk shop in the back streets of a town in Thuringer (which does indeed have its own iconic sausage) where Dad regaled the two slightly shifty looking owners with our own family history that includes a flight from the Red Army at the end of WW2; it seemed to be the kind of place where a flight from the Red Army goes down well. I left with two dozen photos from before WW2, indeed, some well before the turn of the 20th century: soldiers, jolly women in overalls and gas masks at what must have been the beginning of the war (too jolly, surely, for what happened later); many sepia steins being clinked in rustic huts; and chillingly, some blurry dark haired children, not blonde like the rest, and I may be jumping to conclusions, but I cannot bear to think of what might have become of them. That last photo is one I look at only rarely and in solitude.
Here is my Dad with some of his own kids, dark and fair (another quiet shirt; can it be my memory is playing tricks on me?):