Although my father died several years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking of him today. So much of who I am is directly because I was part of him. I read all of the time, as Dad did. He had a library of several thousand books, which my mother catalogued! Although I don’t have as many books as he did, I realized when I moved that I had hundreds of books. We had the coziest library in the house where I grew up. (I think that this picture was taken at his office, because I KNOW it’s not at our house!) When we bought the house, the room was literally filled with guns, but they were all removed, and bookcases were added. Just to the left of this picture, you can see part of Dad’s collection of Baedeker Guides, of which I now have several. I am a collector like my father. He collected a range of things, including books, cigarette cards, trains, little lead soldiers amongst others. He loved going to auctions and sales, and we had pieces like a grape press in our garage for the grape arbour we had in our yard. He was lucky enough to have a large house that he and my mother could fill with the pieces that they found.Dad also collected people. It was not unusual to find some visiting scholar at the dinner table, or a member of a choir touring the States. We always had friends, or friends of friends, or even strangers staying with us. I have continued that tradition, sometimes with great success, like the Man of Mode who was here last week and could not have been more charming, and sometimes with dire results, like the guest who stayed for three weeks, and refused to even walk the dog or tip the wait-staff when we ate out! I love to poke around and explore, just like my father. He came to Baltimore when he was a young man, and got to know the city while working for the Baltimore Sun. When we were children, he used to take us with him to his job as the PR Director at the Walters Art Museum. We were able to get up-close-and-personal with art treasures at a young age and learn to appreciate them. Dad always told us to look up! He showed us neighbourhoods we might not have seen. He talked to us constantly about what was going on around us, and what was happening in the news. He read several newspapers each day, a hold over from his days as a newspaperman.
I think that I got my travel bug from my father. As part of his job at the Walters, he would arrange annual trips abroad for the members of the Gallery. This is a sketch he did of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, which was subsequently made into cards. Luckily, I still have a stash. I have no qualms about travelling by myself and going off on adventures, either in the USA or a foreign country. My father was a writer starting when he was in his early 20’s. He had the good fortune of meeting a family in South Africa who ran the Star newspapers, and thought that was something he’d like to do. The two families are still friends. I write every day, both on this blog, and in my work as a fund-raiser and grant-writer. I think that my good education, and the influence of my father helped me become the writer that I am. Finally, we both adore my mother, his wife. They were married for about 54 years, and although it was an improbably match – him an English Protestant, and her an American Catholic, it was a strong marriage, and they loved each other tremendously. Happy Father’s Day!