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Things My Father Taught Me

Updated on August 30, 2017

Here's My Dad

My siblings and I often tease my dad that he seems to have skipped right over the sixties. He's what they used to refer to, I believe, as a square. He's a straight shooter, a pipe smoker, and never met a book he didn't like. Because of this, I've been able to learn a lot, and not just because he's Phi Beta Kappa and has two doctorates. He just knows stuff. Behold!

Shoes are to go on your feet or in the closet.

Shoe Tree
Shoe Tree

Dad plus Mom, plus two girls, plus two boys equals a lot of shoes. Anyone who has ever been on school duty knows the value of not having to waste time hunting for one shoe that is probably under a chair, bed, sofa, or curtain. Therefore, my dad instituted a rule: Shoes are to be on your feet or in the closet.

The example shown to the right, in a photo taken by David Whitehead, is NOT acceptable. Not even close.

How to Shine Shoes - You know, since we're on the topic of shoes

Some people might think that only men are supposed to shine shoes. Perhaps that's why you never hear of shoe shine girls. That was never my dad's attitude. No, every so often, he'll lay down newspaper on the blue carpet in his bedroom, get out the shoe shine kit he keeps in his night stand, sit on the floor and shine his shoes. And if I had scuffs on my shoes, I would sit next to him and copy him, just one step behind.

1) apply polish with stiff brush from tin can of appropriate color

2) brush around the sides and the top - don't forget the back

3) polish with rag

Meridian Point 6 Piece Shoe Shine Kit Set
Meridian Point 6 Piece Shoe Shine Kit Set

You don't need the wooden box to put your shoe on. That is what the newspaper is for.

Kiwi Cordovan Shoe Polish, 1-1/8 oz
Kiwi Cordovan Shoe Polish, 1-1/8 oz

The only time I ever hear the word cordovan is in relation to shoe polish. They actually come in all sorts of shades, including the useful black.


Education is Extremely Important

Growing up, I was not allowed to work a job during the school year because my job was getting good grades in school. Here are the colleges which with my father is affiliated.

Skippy Peanut Butter and Welch's Grape Jelly on White Bread
Skippy Peanut Butter and Welch's Grape Jelly on White Bread

Consistency is Nice

Here is what I learned growing up: There is nothing wrong with having peanut butter and grape jelly on white bread, potato chips, three cookies and a quarter for milk five days a week for eight years running.

You Think Your Dad's Great?

The fact that there is more than one mug that says "World's Greatest Dad" teaches us that people are either illogical or delusional. Although I suppose that it would be okay if it said "World's Greatest Dad for Me" but that is not quite as pithy.

How would you categorize your Dad?

See results

Books Written by My Dad

Both of the books below were written by my father and his writing partner Lydia Kukoff. They are very good, if I do say so myself. Take a gander.

Every Person's Guide to Judaism
Every Person's Guide to Judaism

Of the two, this book is more like one you would read straight through and is for anyone who might be interested in Judaism.

Introduction to Judaism: A Source Book
Introduction to Judaism: A Source Book

This was the first book they wrote together and very quickly became the go-to book for conversion classes and "Intro" classes in the Reform Movement. There are related books (a facilitator's guide, etc.) but they don't have a cool cover like this one does.


You don't get points for suffering. Take an aspirin.

Nicknames are Good, as Far as They Go

"Jimmy" Carter
"Jimmy" Carter

But my dad always refers to this man as James Earl Carter the third.

Tissues aren't Kleenex Unless They're Kleenex - Also known as: call things what they are

Anyone who knows patent law will agree that you should not call general items by their brand names. The legal reason for this is that if enough people begin to refer to some general thing AS a brand name, the brand will actually lose its patent. It's one of the reasons that Polaroid Corporation got so heated when Outkast's 2003 hit "Hey Ya!" instructed people to "shake it like a Polaroid picture." It isn't a Polaroid picture. It's a Polaroid brand instant picture. Also, you aren't supposed to shake it; you haven't needed to do that for decades.

I think that point is secondary with my Dad, though. If it isn't Kleenex, you shouldn't call it Kleenex because that is now what it is. This is especially relevant if you believe that Kleenex is far superior to any other brand of facial tissue.

Mom vs. Dad

So far, who have you learned the most from: your mother or your father?

What Have You Learned From Your Dad? - or any other comments

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    • Jennifer Einstein profile image

      Jennifer Einstein 5 years ago from New York City

      @eightieschild: Thanks! It helps that my dad is fantastic. Cheers!

    • eightieschild profile image

      eightieschild 5 years ago

      A nice well-written, personal lens. I can tell you have a lot of respect and affection for your dad, which is good as family is important! :)

    • Jennifer Einstein profile image

      Jennifer Einstein 6 years ago from New York City

      @jdwheeler: Thanks! And thanks for the blessing. And I totally agree about the measure twice and cut once thing. I don't sew, but I like the idea anyway.

    • jdwheeler profile image

      jdwheeler 6 years ago

      "To measure twice, and cut once." I enjoyed reading about your dad's wisdom. Thanks for sharing him with us.