Stuff My Dad Says

Father’s Day is fast approaching. A fellow Face-Booker has a site which is a bit more colorfully-named than this post’s title, but seems to be in a similar spirit. To honor the day – and my dad – I thought I’d post my own, slightly tamer, version.

When we were taking our “sweet time” doing some task, or simply following Dad at what he deemed a snail’s pace, we’d hear, “Make it snappy,” and, variously, “Get a move on,” “Quit dilly-dallying/shilly-shallying/dawdling,” “Get the lead out,” “Quit futzin’ around” (didn’t think anything about it at the time, but I can imagine what that one evolved from), or in plain-speak, “Get over here!”

While he was instructing us in the fine art of changing a faucet washer or spark plug (and in recognizing the proper tool for the job, as in “That’s not a goddam crescent wrench!”), he might say, “Stick with me, kid – you’ll learn something,” or “You learn something new everyday.”

A more all-purpose comment which might be employed in one of those “educational” settings, or to get you to agree with him, or jokingly combined with a wink and a nudge, was, “Know what I mean, Jelly Bean?”

If we weren’t displaying emotion he considered appropriate to a particular event, we might hear, “Wipe that smile off your face,” “You want something to cry about? I’ll give you something to cry about,” “Don’t raise your eyes at me,” or “You better smile, if you know what’s good for you!” Isn’t that last one designed to elicit the most heartfelt of smiles? It was more likely to result in something like this photo:

peg communion

Terry, Steve, Sean, Peg at Link’s Log Cabin, May 1965

Or this one – don’t Peg and I look happy to be on vacation?

Peg, Mom, Tara, Sean, me - about 1969?

Peg, Mom, Tara, Sean, me – about 1969?

Although Dad was actually incredibly generous over the years, he’d frequently remind us of the value of a dollar by choosing whichever of the following fit the circumstances: “Here’s a nickel – don’t spend it all in one place,” “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” “Whaddya think I am – made of money?” or “The bank is closed!” Sometimes he might simply turn his empty pockets inside-out with a Stan Laurel-y look that said, “You can’t get blood from a stone.”

Another action related to money, and which I loved, for some reason, was when he’d walk around with his hands in his trouser pockets, jingling the loose change. I loved the tinkly sound and tried to reproduce it myself, but my own pants weren’t loose enough, nor my pockets deep enough (literally and figuratively!) to get the same effect.

One of Dad’s most famous expressions was his stock answer to our queries of “Where ya goin’, Dad?” as he was walking out the door. More often than not, he’d be headed for the lumber yard or hardware store and we’d be invited to accompany him. (Richmond Hardware, with its ringable doorbells, light switches operating sample sconces and chandeliers, working doors attached to free-standing frames, and drawers and cabinets filled with myriad types and sizes of nuts, bolts, washers, hooks, and the like, was one of my favorite emporiums. I’ll wager that our hands-on exploration drove the proprietors crazy, although I don’t remember ever being reprimanded.)

Anyway, if Dad craved some alone-time, which wasn’t surprising with 6 pairs of feet and eyes following him everywhere, he would answer us with, “I’m going up Mike’s, next-door to Jake’s.”

The way we puzzled out this enigmatic expression was to surmise that he was taking a stroll to the Silver Dollar Bar (owned by Jake), which happened to be right next-door to Mike’s candy store. This only made kid-sense of course, since if you took this utterance literally, he’d be heading for the candy store. It probably meant nothing – just “I’m going out – and you can’t come.”

So often did he employ this pronouncement that it became permanently associated, in our minds, with Dad-dom, and I’ll never forget the conspiratorial wink and smirk my brother Terry gave me the first time I heard him say, “Up Mike’s, next-door to Jake’s” in answer to his daughters’ questions. Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

There are two more phrases that I will forever link with Dad, and these days, all of us kids throw them in sentences as often as we can when we’re in his presence: “For cryin’ out loud” and “That’s a load of crap” (the latter usually in response to some excuse or other that we’d given him). These are so universally recognized among us as Dad-isms that for Father’s Day a few years back, I composed a haiku – dedicated to him, but probably appreciated more by my siblings and our kids, the second generation to benefit from his sage advice:

Grandpa always says,
“That is such a load of crap,
For cryin’ out loud.”

Happy Father’s Day to Da, and also to my husband, my brothers, and all dads and dad stand-ins everywhere – I salute you!

Sean, Steve, Terry, Mom & Da, Moira, Peg, Tara – Summer, 1999


About rangermoi

I'm a former park ranger and teacher, mother of two no-longer-teenage sons, avid cook and reader and the Official Family Memory. I thought I'd better get some of those remembrances down before they all leak out of my senior-moment-affected brain!
This entry was posted in Family, Home, Nostalgia, Tribute and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Stuff My Dad Says

  1. Brother Ter says:

    Photo taken at the long-gone, longer-remember Links Log Cabin. I’m guessing it might have been the time that Sean – the little guy down front with the bow tie, now a 51 y.o. Air Tran/Southwest pilot – ordered ice cream for dessert while several of us order the parfait. When the dishes arrived, the ice cream was not visually impressive while the parfait was a luscious confection like a colorful Carvel cone in a dish. Sean’s face fell and his lower lip began trembling. Waitress caught it and said she could bring him the same.

    Just last week I was telling Cari and Betsy about “Up Mike’s next door to Jakes” – a phrase I expect predated the Sliver Dollar Bar by some decades.

  2. Cari says:

    Very entertaining read– thanks for sharing the memories, Moi! I especially like that amusing mid-60’s snapshot! hahaha! 😉

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