My Father's Day is Every day
Always the Proud Dad
Dad's Day... of birth.
It was 17th March,1910 - and St. Patrick's Day was being celebrated all around the world. For some it was the 'wearing of the Green'; many were proudly parading; and some were even raising tankards of Green Beer.
On this day in history, we learn -
The average U.S. workingman was earning less than $15 per week, for 54 to 60 hours.
Harry Houdini, the American magician and escapologist was touring Australia - and made the first powered flight over Australia the next day in his Voisin biplane, and
Alfred Deakin was the Prime Minister of Australia
Also, in this year of 1910, some well-known identities died -
King Edward VII,
nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale,
writers Mark Twain, O. Henry and Tolstoy,
painter William Holman Hunt. and
humanitarian (and first Nobel Peace Prize winner) Jean Henri Dunant.
BUT...arguably the most important happening on this day of 1910, was that -
Walter James Graham
was born to proud parents Arthur James and Alice Mary Graham, at Hindmarsh, South Australia.
I repeat...Walter James Graham was born! (Which might not mean a lot to you - but it surely does to me, his daughter. Especially as I was the 'twinkle in his eye' 34 years later! And the 'apple of his eye' for the next 28 years of his life)
In 1912 my Dad looked like this
Little Wally Graham
How cute is he? I just couldn't resist getting this old photo framed many years ago...and I was particularly thrilled to find this beautiful oval frame. It was as though it 'aged' itself instantly to enhance the dear photo.
My Dad was born into a proud family of butchers. His father owned a shop in Rundle Street (the main street in the city of Adelaide, capital of South Australia) - and also four more in the near suburbs of Adelaide. Each of these shops were careful investments, with the view in mind that they would be run by each of his four sons.
Inexplicably, only one son was able to pursue the career of his dreams in management of large non-butchering related business (and he was not the eldest, as one might have imagined, but right in the middle of the family). The other three, however, didn't get the luxury of choice - and fitted themselves into the pattern created by an incredibly strong and forceful man.
Don't misunderstand. My Grandfather was a pillar of the community - local, business and sporting - highly respected and admired in all circles. It's just that in those days, the expectation was for a son to follow in his father's footsteps, and put his own dreams aside.
I don't believe this was the school uniform - but I DO believe it was probably their Sunday best - for going to Church in, no doubt.
I also DO believe their school uniform would have been fairly similar - short pants suits, dazzlingly white shirts, and never forget the sturdy leather lace-up boots.
I don't know anything about my Dad scholastically - but judging by his beautiful (adult) handwriting, and brilliant skills with figures and all manner of accounting and book-keeping, I would have to assume he 'shone', and made his mother and father proud. On the other hand, he had quite large footsteps to follow in, namely those of his father and his elder brother.
**My Dad is the one standing on the left.
The story goes that nothing was ever too much trouble for him to do for someone else.
His wife certainly knew this - and his children, including me, 'the baby' of the family.
No wonder his Mother would often say - "Wally was always such a willing boy."
Not THE Beach Boys...
This is NOT what young men wore for bathers in 1926!
But even on a cooler, non-beachy kind of day, just look at the.sports jackets and trousers and shoes and socks - on the sand!?!
Look at his madly grinning face - and look at that widow's peak hairline! (that never changed, his whole life through)
That's his younger brother, Stan, posing next to him. What a pair! 'Beachboys' eat your heart out!
***definition of a 'widow's peak' -
A distinct point in the hairline in the center of the forehead that is a dominant inherited trait that typically does not skip generations - and the name originates from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead is an omen of early widowhood. (suspect another old wives' tale here!)
Given No Choice
... of Butcher, Baker or Candlestickmaker, my Dad became a Butcher.
Given the choice, I believe he would have been a cabinet or furniture maker. He loved woodwork, and earlier in his life, produced several beautiful pieces. I still have one - a chair with an upholstered seat, made when I was small, maybe even before I was born.
So much has changed since last century - we all understand that. The trainee butcher of yesteryear certainly had challenges that today's apprentice could not imagine. Dad learnt his trade in the days way before there were electric machines to saw, mince and slice meats. It was ALL manual in his years. (And just imagine - at the end of his life, he still had all 10 fingers intact...and little scarring).
I know my Dad made home deliveries of meat, transported in a huge iron basket attached to the handlebars of a black 'butcher's bike'. (I would lay money on it that somewhere would be the proud signwriting 'Graham's Quality Meat Service') I do know he began these bike deliveries from a young boy.
One story I heard along the way was about a delivery to a most proper old lady - who had just emerged from her shower, and started to make her way down the long passage of her home - naked - just as Dad knocked on the locked flyscreen door. She had no choice but to run the length of the passage, in full view of my totally embarrassed young Dad. Wonder how they went, meeting eyes, next time she was in his shop?
1931 and a Child-Groom of 21...
My Mum and Dad were first introduced by Dad's cousin and Mum's sister (who would themselves marry later). He was 17 and she was only 15 and it was love at first sight - and indeed 'first love' for them both - neither had a previous boyfriend or girlfriend.
They married on 27th June,1931 - my Dad, Walter 21, and my Mum, Winifred 19 - at the Church of Christ, in Adelaide, South Australia. Their marriage ended with his death...41 years later.
Their love was great, their devotion total, their caring for each other's well-being exceptional.
Their union produced 5 children, Bob, Barry, Jennifer, Dean and myself.
Also, 11 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren in their lifetime.
Amazing Communication... breakdown
Mostly they were like two peas in a pod, except there one particular time I remember, when it was not exactly perfect.
Seemingly, the occasion was a wedding anniversary approaching and they were spending an evening window shopping in the city of Adelaide (no late night shopping in those days). My Mum was trying unobtrusively to get my Dad to notice a very beautiful and delicate tea-set.
Her eyes brightened as she dreamed of a treat to spoil herself with, on the few occasions she took time out from her busy days looking after her family. With a tea-set like that, she could instead, do a little entertaining in grand style, of ladies who were her family and friends.She pointed towards the dream, expressing how much she would love to own something like that, and how extremely 'useful' it would be!
She really thought she had succeeded, until the important day, when the moment came to unpack the large box (no doubt full of the carefully packed tea-set .That just had to be what it was - it was SO big. There must have even more pieces to it than she had remembered!) At last, layers and layers of wrapping later, she finally looked inside - NOT at a precious tea-set. No! It was the heap of parts of the item that had been right alongside the teaset - a Vacola Preserving outfit!
My Dad thought it a great idea, getting her exactly what she wanted. He was so proud to have found was something SO useful for when she did all the preserving for the family. He was dumbfounded when she burst into tears and rushed from the room! Can't you see the scene? Dear Dad shaking his head in confusion, one hand on his hip, the other running his fingers through his hair, as he said to no-one in particular,
"Well, I'll be... I don't know! There's just no pleasing you, Winnie!"
But he was wrong. He pleased her exceptionally well for the rest of the years of their life together - maybe learning from this episode.
His gifts to her included the most exquisite jewellery pieces (all of which I have still today), and finest petticoats, nighties and bed jackets - all embroidered or embellished with the finest lace. Who'd have though such a romantic dwelled inside that typical 'butcher'?
The Family Man
Sitting on the 'running board' of another of his proudest possessions - the Baby Austin 7 - with the beginning of his dearly loved family.
Bob, the first-born is blonde, and Barry, the second, is born with black hair, and will have this colour until the greys crept in.
Oh yes, and Barry was born with the most distinctive 'widow's peak' hairline of any of us. Actually don't know how we missed out - check out the peak on both Mum and Dad!
How come Dad's hat wasn't called a top hat? I don't know what the style was called - but it's very tall. (Just as well he had big ears to hold it up!)
Just had another vision of him - wagging his head, and then saying,
"Oh-h-h, you're a cheeky young thing.", and with a pretend growl -
"I'll give it to you, if you don't watch out!"
In the original photo above, before I went 'editing' and chopping off everyone else who were not my immediate family, I count 4 adults, two young girls and two babies! As the Baby Austin appears to be a two-seater, one wonders how the babies fitted in - and then the subsequent kids? Lessons learned by serious sardine can study, no doubt!
Dad's first and most treasured car
How many trips did this little beauty make, I wonder? Dad loved driving his pride and joy, and taking as many passengers along for the ride as he could possibly fit into this 'pocket dynamo'. Lucky it was lean times for people as well - or he would never have fitted so many.
Hard to imagine a time when not only were there no seat belts and prescribed seating for a certain headcount - but this little car also boasted a 'dickie' seat (aka a rumble seat) - an upholstered seat that opened out from the back of the car, for extra seating for more passengers. No wonder so many ladies wore hats tied down with scarves!
1941 - and a Proud Father again
After we take a laugh at my Dad's short back and sides haircut (I mean how unglamorous could even a man's hairdo be?? Oh-h-h, shame... if you could have seen that thick, strong, wavy hair as I always knew it!)
... then we will take a few solemn and respectful moments to realise that this was the baby son who would never see his 2nd birthday. A diphtheria epidemic swept the world - and it's possible he was infected by his doting grandmother. They both died within weeks of each other.
Can we begin to imagine his pain, as he had no choice but to continue his daily work whilst his wife nearly lost her mind (because this baby boy had died in her arms). And his three pre-teen children were in a cruel kind of limbo - shocked, confused, afraid, lost. They have never talked about their feelings with me. Maybe these just had to be buried, along with their baby brother.
But, hats off to you, Dad - for your quiet strength and courage in coping with this extraordinarily tragic situation...and for choosing to follow the Doctor's suggested solution to save this grieving family's sanity by creating a new life - namely, me!
Least Likely to Succeed?
My Dad's shop was described by some as the least likely to succeed of his father's chain of butcher's shops. And yet, against all odds, his perseverance, hard work and honesty triumphed. He would never be rich monetarily - his reward was to be highly respected and enjoyed by his many customers and friends.
He was a Master Butcher. Finally, the proud owner of his business - and master of his destiny as provider for his family - now comprising wife and four children - two sons and two daughters.
I would love you to read more details of this special 'gentleman' and his proud occupation. And you can, in my series of Ezine articles with titles starting with -
'The Nifty Fifties' - (specifically the Butcher tales)..
they all have 'Butcher in the title just like these first ones -
Of course, I strongly recommend these in-depth looks at details of a quite special time in recent history. Those times were surely special to me - but then again, I may be just a tad prejudiced - about both the subject and the author!
1945 was a Very Good Year for Babies...
Let the Memories roll...
From here on, I can talk actual memories, although I guess the earliest were mostly to do with just 'knowing' how totally loved and treasured I was by my Dad (not to mention my Mum, of course!)
And yes - I know some of you are going to say you have seen this photo before on one of my Squidoo lenses. No apologies... for loving my family so.
Earliest 'actual' physical memories seem to revolve around my early schooldays. Dad's butcher shop was connected to our home by a doorway, and so, coming home from school each day was always via his shop - for hugs and kisses, a couple of slices of Fritz (South Australian large, cooked 'sausage', usually sliced and served as cold meat). It was also a tradition in Australia for a butcher to give a fresh cut slice of Fritz to every child who came in his shop. I know my dear Dad always did - except that my friends and I were just a little spoiled - we would get two (both coming and going!)
Dad and I shared many 'monetary' moments in his office after tea and before my bedtime... as I helped him count the money that had been the day's 'takings'. (Can you picture the' King' in his counting house, with his small 'Queen' sitting alongside in her dressing gown and slippers?) No cheques or credit cards those days - it was all cash. Each and every coin to be counted and recorded and bagged up in each denomination for banking. I was his denomination sorter and stacker - and he was so proud of my efforts, and so sure I would have a grand future in accounting. But I'm a wordsmith! How could this be? No genetic factors to credit - or blame! It's a mystery.
I close my eyes and we're there together again at his grand old roll-top desk. Piles of coins, specially marked 'money bags' of paper and of cloth, and finally the whole lot would be put into a large cloth bag, inside his leather kitbag. All was ready for banking on Fridays - and then again on Mondays. And all of this would be recorded in one of his accounting books in his absolutely classic handwriting style - light upwards strokes, heavy downward - and all at a perfect right-leaning angle, with flourishes and swirls...even in these everyday account books! Amazing, and quite wonderful. I doubt we'll see too much of this skill in our technological world.
Another vision is when I would catch him in a quieter moment in his shop, and present my school pencils for sharpening. He would be dressed in his usual butcher's uniform of starched white coat (over white shirt and tie), and navy blue and white striped apron tied around his waist. His heavy leather knife pouch would hang from the thick belt around his hips.
Out would come one of his large knives... a quick swish-swish on his sharpening steel, and then he would proceed to sharpen my pencils, one by one - not in any ordinary old fashion...oh no, not my Dad. My pencils were 'faceted' with two flat sides, shaping up to a sharp point - so I could use them for shading, or the finest detail in drawing or writing.
1950 and a Few Good Men...
Yes, I know...I know! You've seen this one before, as well. Tough! These were the first three men in my life... and each one will hold a special place in my heart forever. Nevertheless, why is it whenever I look at this photo, the word 'Mafia' springs to mind? I think it's the square shoulders and stern expressions. Certainly nothing in their proud and loving natures.
You know, almost every time I look at it, I think I see some new detail I hadn't noticed before. Like I was thinking about the double breasted suits on both Barry and my Dad - and Bob in his single breasted sportscoat with knitted vest under - but still white shirt and tie under that! He was the 'trendy' young bachelor of the time - the first one working, and making his own choices about clothing, cars and girlfriends!
And despite the fact that none of his sons would follow in his footsteps as a Butcher, my Dad was eternally proud and supportive of his boys, and whatever path they chose to walk.
Now it's 1955, and the Delightful Daughters...
I don't have a photo of the Father of this bride - who is my sister Jenny, but my Dad's pride was immense, and his happiness bitter-sweet - as he 'gave away' his first daughter.
(A strange little twist, another 10 years later, it would be me as the bride, and Jenny's daughter, Julie, who would be my flower-girl)
PS: Photo is really bad...it's in a shiny glass frame, and I can take it without the flare, but not without the wobble.
1959 and the Next Chapter in...
The time had come to move to greener pastures, now that it was clear that neither of my brothers would carry on the business.
After selling his shop and attached home, Dad engrossed himself in plans for his future, building a beautiful home in a brand new suburb near the Adelaide Hills. He and Mum had the time of their lives - for the first time in their lives - choosing every minute detail to build and decorate their dream home. I guess there must have been some sadness in saying goodbye to their old home of 28 years, but Dad's enthusiasm for the new home and the challenge of having a garden to create and develop outweighed all else.
And he went to work for an upmarket and highly respected butcher shop in a suburb close by - finally able to work 'regular' hours, and forget all the worries and responsibilities attached to owning and running your own business. He took up Lawn Bowls and gained many hours of pleasure from this sport, whilst making some new and good friends.
One memory of his gardening stands out in my mind. He came limping in from digging over a new garden bed, and when Mum rushed to him, he calmly said, "It's all right Winnie. Just don't panic. It's nothing much... really!"
No, not much...he had just put a tine of the big garden fork right through his rubber boot, his toe, and out the bottom of the boot!
They say his Mother was a stoic when it came to pain. He most certainly inherited that gene.
1965, and it's me AND the Father of the Bride!
Get the feeling of how proud my Dad was of his girls?
He was always the strong, silent type who let the rest of us all chatter and giggle (the females, that is), and he'd just sit back and listen and nod and smile....always smile and shake his head.
Mum and I went through all the 'terrible teen' years of battling over almost anything and everything...but my most memorable 'telling-off' was by my mild-mannered and spoken Dad. It was after one of the verbal 'mini-wars' Mum and I had...and Dad came into my bedroom and sat beside me on my bed where I was, crying. And he put his arm around me, and quietly and gently chastised me. He made me feel SO small as he told me he had just come from Mum, who was in her bedroom, also crying. His firm but gentle words convinced me that all she was trying to do was protect me - BECAUSE she loved me so much, as he did. And couldn't I "find a way to apologise to her and 'make up' somehow? Because this is no good for any of us."
Well, of course, I really sobbed then...and he held me...and I did apologise, and it was all 'blue skies' again... thanks to my Dad, and his love for us both.
But on my special day, pictured above, all this was behind us and Dad kept us all 'cool' as things went wrong - and then right - and then so right that it was all quite magnificent. (Thinking of the Rudyard Kipling poem - 'IF........you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs.........then you will be a Man, my son'). This was The Man in our family.
1965... at the Church
Now THIS was certainly a bitter-sweet moment for my Dad. So proud, so glad, so sad... all of that and more!
A few nights before our wedding, Dad had driven us to the Church for a 'rehearsal'. That part went well. But on the way home, another car 'ran' the red light at an intersection, and if Dad had not braked incredibly fast and hard and swerved at the same time, there would have been a completely different story to tell - or maybe no story at all.
Nobody was harmed - even though our flower-girl, my treasured niece Julie, was thrown forward between the front bucket seats. Thankfully, I somehow caught her before she hit the gearstick or the dashboard, and all was well...except her crying loudly with shock and fear.
How proudly my Dad walked me into the Church on this day, with his adored grand-daughter in front of us. (She is the little 'angel' checking my dress out in the photo. Her 'halo' was a circle of tiniest Cecil Brunner rosebuds - truly exquisite).
And how thankful my Dad was, at the end of this day, when my brand-new husband and I left our reception (quite a few hours after this photo), that everything had evolved brilliantly; better than anyone could have expected. Now all he had to worry about was the minor detail of paying for it!
My Dad had the time of his life - giving me the Day of My Life.
Just a Thought
The actual Father's Day celebration is on different dates around the world. (Fancy taking nearly seven decades to discover that!)
When I first wrote this as a Squidoo lens, it was timely for Father's Day 'Downunder', which is the first Sunday in September.
New Zealand (sensibly) shares our Aussie date.
But USA and Canada and half of South America celebrate on the third Sunday of June!
The End of the Story?
Seven years later our family lost my Dad - a sudden death before he reached retirement age - and some overdue and most genuinely 'earned' rest time for him. But this was not to be.
Some day soon I will fill in a those years, but for now, I find it's too emotional to cope with. After all, it was only 42 years ago...