“…Here’s to the fathers – lift up the glasses .
       Here’s to the glory still to be.
       Here’s to the battle, whatever it’s for,
       To ask the best of ourselves, then give much more…”

My angle on Father’s Day has altered with time.

Once, as a kid in the decade before Dad and Grandpa Irv wanted to castrate each other, it meant an afternoon where Dad, H and I would wear our matching collared Florida sport shirts. White they were (with a blue outline of the state over the left breast…mine still hangs in my closet). Grandma Cele brought them north one spring after her winter on Collins Avenue. Ah, but that was the 50’s.

By the 60’s life got real. Cousin Rita, (sister of the All-World softballer), married Mel on the first Father’s Day post our parents’ divorce. Touch and go for a while, but we saw our father, saw the ceremony, and saw no bloodshed.

In the 70’s, of course, I myself fathered. By decade’s end it would be a boy, a girl, and a third in the green room.

Then — in the blink of an eye—thirty years passed!

It’s harder to father than to mother. Maternal instinct? I get that. PATERNAL INSTINCT? Not so much. I cherish then, the wisdom, warmth and memories of the many fathers I’ve met, observed, or even in only a passing way interacted with over time. Through the lens of my lifetime, while I didn’t catch their inner worlds, so many have touched me, or taught me…or just made me smile.

So here’s to just SOME of the men I still picture … to the flashes of warmth that their names always image… to the winners.

Andre, “Sam” and “Uncle Miltie”, Messrs. Snyder, Wieder and Fenton. One night Bob’s Dad rushed me to my mother’s right after I bloodied the white interior of their garage; countless times Al’s father’d schlep downstairs to move his blue/black van just so Wied and I could play 1/on/1. (Why did Alan always make me be Ledgemont?)….and Stuart’s dad, Mr. Fenton (nee Feinstein), whom I knew first, last, longest, and best. That man loved me, and the feeling was mutual.

To Mr. Glassman (who took us to the New York Spaghetti House before an Indians opener and Mr. Baskin, who showed me his poetry….

And one of my earliest of giants, Mr. Lomaz.  Ralph called me “Al’s kid” on Bayard, and I wasn’t quite sure this big man knew by name.  Then years (and wives) later for both he and my Dad I got a call to come see him in his new office on Tyler Boulevard in Mentor; he wanted throw me some business.  “You have a brother too?” he asked.  Family stats he might forget, but friendship—never.

To the fathers I saw only through Little League: Like Mr. Wendel, who drafted me at 10, Mr. Racila (Ray made it at 9), who stood down the foul line, and Mr. Capretta, who sat near the backstop. Fixtures, they were, beaming proudly. (I’m certain their sons still remember).

And Mr. Mandel. And Mr. Herzog. When his dad passed Bruce spoke of his “always being there”. Harold was. ‘Still picture him at White Sox games and Boobus Bowls…saying little, seeing all. Alan’s Dad? Did Herzog ever make “the Majors”? It matters not. What I do cherish is his father on the sidelines for football and always giving me that warm nod from his prime seat at Corky’s.

Life’s second act brought more heroes.  College came for my kids and they never looked back. Columbus, Boston, New York, Chicago—-never to return. By then, Jersey’d gone south and my next decades filled with theater, recovery, and more. On stage I saw fathers set examples for sons, and likewise in the rooms. Heartened was I by the constancy of it all.

Six months ago Norm died. Maybe 7. And still, when this man of flash, this dynamo that hushed rooms by his entrance finally left stage, it was the precedent he’d set that his sons spoke to most. “He urged us to help others,” said one. “To do it quietly,” spoke another. I loved my cousin Norm…perhaps…just perhaps because he reminded me of my father: another sweet soul.

So I love Father’s Day, and I salute those I’ve mentioned. And I love being a father; it’s the gift that keeps giving. Do I miss my dad, some 29 years later. In a way. Is he with me? Still. Every day.

He set the bar high, as did his comrades. There WERE The Greatest Generation.

       “…Here’s to the heroes – those who move mountains.
       Here’s to the miracles they make us see.
       Here’s to all fathers – here’s to all people
       Here’s to the winners all of us can be…..”

(F. Sinatra , adapted)



  1. Stuart says:

    What a great tribute! They were the greatest generation. And, they are the heroes. Still can see Bobby’s Dad yelling at the Browns thru the TV. And I can still hear the Al Bogart grunt and see his puffed lip. But, more importantly, I’m thankful for the profound effect he and my Dad had on me.
    Ahh…to go back in time and still see the green truck in Bobby’s driveway and the Stepvan in Alan’s garage.

  2. bob snyder says:

    sorry for the late reply but am catching up on blogs. They were the greatest generation. How many of our kids can say they worked for their friends father and he was a great boss? Or remember the a friends father and all his voice impressions. How about taking trips with the other families. Not to mention the crazy fathers like Blackie, Jack and Moe.

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