Letter: A good time to remember lessons from Dad

Posted 6/17/21

As Father’s Day approaches it is a good time to remember lessons learned from your Dad. Here is one of my favorites. A lesson in adaptability.

In the mid-1950s growing up, my Dad worked …

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Letter: A good time to remember lessons from Dad

Posted

As Father’s Day approaches it is a good time to remember lessons learned from your Dad. Here is one of my favorites. A lesson in adaptability.

In the mid-1950s growing up, my Dad worked nights in a factory and Mom worked days in an office. It was a special time having Pop around to play catch, help in the yard, and just do “guy things.” He was the only Dad on school field trips and despite the fact that he was weary from last night’s work he always had time for me.

We both loved baseball, and even though I’m right handed, he taught me to bat from the left side of the plate. It was a noble experiment and about as successful as the docking of the Hindenburg. I was a good fielder and had a strong arm, but couldn’t hit my way out of the proverbial, wet paper bag.

This lack of hitting prowess became evident in Little League when I was relegated so far down the bench that I would have needed Google maps to get into the lineup. One day after a really dismal performance, I approached Pop and asked why he taught me to bat left-handed. He responded, “ Because you’re one step closer to first base!”

This was a Moses coming down from Mount Sinai moment for him. Meanwhile, I would wander the baseball diamonds for 40 years without an extra base hit.

Fast forward to the 1960s. A bunch of the neighborhood gang decided it would be fun to go to Goddard Park and play golf. Pop had an old, disheveled canvas stovepipe golf bag full of clubs hanging in the garage, serving as condos for spiders. They were ancient Walter Hagen clubs with hickory shafts and worn leather grips.  He said that I could use them.

I took them down, cleaned them and realized that they were right handed. So I tracked Pop down and said, “ Hey Dad, these golf clubs are for righties!”

“So?”, he said.

With what seemed logical at the time, I responded, “You taught me to be a lefty.” He articulated, “Learn to hit ’em right handed.”

I said, “But what about being a lefty and one step closer to first base?”

He looked at me quizzically and calmly said, “There are no bases in golf!”

Dads; you’ve got to love them. This Sunday give your Dad a hug, or give him a call, or hoist a lager with him. If you can’t do that, then take  a few minutes to cherish the memories.

Howard G. Sutton
Bristol

Mr. Sutton is publisher emeritus of The Providence Journal.

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