Fathers: I was remiss last week in wishing you a Happy Father’s Day.
So, all I can do is hope that you had a good day, that your wife gave you a little time away from the lawn mower, and that you didn’t burn the steaks.
Looking at a few of the columns that I have written around Father’s Day:
June 10, 1980:
642 Ties – At Least!
“By coming up with a certain number of years, multiplying that by the number of children, grandchildren (and great grandchildren) in our family, and in turn multiplying that figure by the number of holidays during those years, I figure that my father has owned somewhere around 642 neckties during his lifetime.
“As of my mother’s most recent report, at least two of Dad’s dresser drawers are inoperable because of an over-abundance of shirts, including several from recent Father’s Days.”
So, after perusing many catalogs I was ready to purchase tie number 643.
June 10, 1986:
“I have noticed in the newspaper that a lot of advertisers are saying that things like lawn mowers make fine Father’s Day gifts. I’ve never felt really good about giving the kind of gifts that are going to mean, almost immediately, hours of hard work for the recipient of the gift.
“I have a friend who says he isn’t worrying about getting a lawn mower for Father’s Day on Sunday. He gave his wife one for Mother’s Day last month.”
And from a week later the same year, June 17, 1986:
“The gifts I receive from my sons now that they are grown up are more useful, but I was thinking the other day about some of the gifts that I received a few years ago.
“I still have a little plaque that I display on the top of my dresser. It has little letters about two inches high made of clay that spell out the word R-U-S-T. When the gift was new it spelled T-R-U-S-T.
“I have a paper weight made from a rock. The first-grader who gave it to me told me it looked like Snoopy. I believed him.
“I have a scribbly picture of a funny looking man who I thought looked like President Nixon, but I was assured it wasn’t as the little person who gave it to me had scratched ‘My Dad’ underneath.”
I still have those things.
Keep Dad Busy
The last column I wrote about Father’s Day seems to have been on June 14, 2003:
“The first Father’s Day was celebrated June 19, 1910. The holiday was launched by the Ministerial Association and the YMCA of Spokane, Washington.
“Here’s an important thing to remember on Father’s Day: You want to keep Dad busy. Plan an outing. Invite a crowd over and have Dad do the cooking on the grill.
“Make sure he has something to do. Otherwise he will plop down in his easy chair, take his shoes off, prop his feet up, watch television, read the newspaper, and make frequent trips to the refrigerator. Just as he does the other 51 weeks of the year – and remember, Father’s Day is special.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about local jazz legend Spiegle Willcox this week, ever since I received a note from Ralph Riker, who said he had spent about 25 years in Spiegle’s hometown, Cincinnatus, N.Y.
(Among lots of other thoughts, I was remembering how the group of women who attended jazz functions with us affectionately called Spiegle “Spiegly Wiegly” – he was “da Spieg” to most of the rest of us.)
One of my fondest memories of Spiegle was when he and I were seat mates on a flight to Washington, D.C. in the early 90s. I was on my way to Roanoke, Virginia to visit son, Craig, and family; Spiegle was headed farther south to meet up with Joe Venuti and other Jean Goldkette Orchestra alumni for a round of public appearances.
Since I’ve been reading about “da Spieg,” I have also been reading the column that I wrote March 2, 1998: “I’m planning on going to a birthday party in May. I figure that it is OK to start thinking about it because at least one person has been getting ready for this party for almost 95 years. The party is going to be given in Cortland to honor the number one son of Cincinnatus, N. Y. – Spiegle Willcox.
“Besides hailing from Cincinnatus, being the only person that I ever knew named Spiegle, and getting ready to celebrate his 95th birthday, Spiegle plays a pretty good jazz trombone.”
The roster of jazz musicians that Spiegle played with during a couple of jazz careers includes a lineup of some of his lifetime’s biggest names – besides Venuti and Goldkette – Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Bix Beiderbecke*, Freddy “Fuzzy” Farrar, Russ Morgan, Paul Whiteman, “Howdy” Quicksell and Bill Rank, who played “hot” trombone while Spiegle played “sweet”.
In more recent years there were Bucky Pizzarelli, Milt Hinton, Billy Rosen-garden, Doc Cheatham, PeeWee Erwin, Bob Wilbur, Kenny Davern, Johnny Mince and many others.
Many people who knew about those kind of things thought that Bix Beiderbecke changed the nature of jazz forever. *Bix was fired by the Goldkette Orchestra for his inability to read music and then re-hired after he learned enough music to get by.
As it said on Spiegle’s calling card: “Old trombone players never die, they just slide away.”
The last word . . .again
“Lexophile” is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish,” or “to write with a broken pencil is pointless.”
A competition to see who can come up with the best lexphillies (?? their word not mine) is held every year in an undisclosed location.
This year’s winning submission is posted at the very end. (So, of course, I’m skipping to the very end.) – “Those who get too big for their pants will be exposed in the end.”
. . . Roy Hodge