This is a first for this blog. This photo wasn't take in Pasadena. It was taken in Coolidge, Kansas in 1932.
Today's my father's 92nd birthday - would have been, had he stuck around. I miss him.
Fathers are different now than they were when I was growing up. Or maybe they're different in southern California than they are in Illinois. Or maybe life is different. Or all of the above. My father, and the fathers I remember from the 50's and 60's, had to support families on their own. That's how it was done. Now society's limits are less stringent.
My father grew up in western Kansas. He was already the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse by the time he was 16. (He's pictured there above with three - yes, three - of his pupils.) He moved on to be a ranch hand and a bus driver for a while before he became a U.S. Marine. After WWII he married my mother, then went to school with a passion: got his BA, Master's and PhD in rapid succession. Soon he was a teacher again.
He worked. He must have done other things, but what I remember is that Daddy went to work early in the morning and came home late. Time with him was precious and rare.
Now I see fathers with their kids all the time. They enjoy the parks together or the farmer's market. They walk in the neighborhoods of Pasadena, holding hands and teaching things to each other. It seems men have more freedom now to be not just providers but good fathers, too.
The best moments I remember with my father are when we were riding horses or playing guitars or telling corny jokes - when he was being the ranch hand from western Kansas.
To make this a true Pasadena photo post, here's a shot (below) that reminds me of my father. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's a lonely picture. I think it must be lonely to go through life striving to provide and only rarely letting your softer side show. Perhaps that's not how he felt. My father died so long ago my memory is clouded. Perhaps I'm just missing him, and wishing that if we could, we'd walk together in the neighborhoods of my childhood, holding hands and teaching things to each other.