Saturday, August 20, 2022

Dadisms and a few thoughts

I owe a debt of gratitude to my Dad. No one worked harder, yet he always made time for us boys. I just want to share a few of those ‘Dadisms’ to celebrate. His birthday was August 18, 1921 and he passed back in November of 1998.

There was no such thing as a free lunch and you will earn your keep. My brothers and I all had jobs as kids. Dad wasn't mean. He thought there just wasn't a better time to get ready for life than when you were old enough to get started.


After I totally failed as a paperboy Dad decided on a different job for me at the local music store as a guitar teacher. I had about 2 years of playing under my belt. I was obsessed and practiced for hours every day. That was all well and fine with him, but you need to make a living at it. It wasn’t like I or the owner had a choice when we walked in that day together, "Put him to work", say's Dad. It took me a couple of months but I soon had between 30 to 40 students.

I was 15 1/2 then and Dad’s encouraging advice, “Don't worry about it. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about the guitar. You don’t even need to be the best guitar player there ever was. You just need to stay 2 lessons ahead of your students.”

Al Fabre & Frank Baffaro

I was a little over 16 years old when Dad and I had that ‘father and son’ heart to heart talk. You guys know what I’m talking about. That awkward one that started with a random topic and went on and on and on before it finally got around to
‘the’ conversation. The one about sex. I’m thinking he was really hoping never to have this one, but knowing Mom, insisted,

“Al, you need to have this conversation with your son!” 

Dad’s advice, after a lot of awkward small talk, “Son... you got shit to do. You've got ambition, you got talent. You got dreams. You're gonna have to work long and hard to make it all happen."

"Keep your Peter in your pocket and you’ll be fine.”

I was in my early 20s and Dad was helping me out with some music arrangements for the Pep Band at GRCC. These were early efforts for me at scoring for jazz ensembles with woodwinds and brass. It was a special time because our passions again overlapped and we rediscovered some common ground.

Dad’s advice, “It’s never going to be about the money you make at it. It’ll be about the discovery and the joy it brings you. Just give it your best.”

A random Dad quote I heard many times over the years... 

“Why can’t people just get along?” OMG! Dad. We could use this wisdom today! 

I was at Dimmitt Jr High School in the early 60s. I loved band (a French Horn player) and sports, track and wrestling. I had a relentless petty tyrant, Tom. He made my life hell. Dad said, sorry son, but you're gonna have to confront this one. Take him down even though he's bigger than you, so don't worry about fighting fair. He started it. My coaches and my math teacher at the time agreed and I did just that in the gym one day, I'd had enough.

I was headed out on a tour in the mid 70s. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of politics in music. I was having some extreme business challenges dealing with a few unscrupulous types. 

Dad’s advice, “F**k em!” You’re not anything like them. Just keep doing the right thing son, even if you lose money at it. You’ll keep your self respect, the respect of those who really matter, and you’ll be able to hold your head high. It’s not the end of the world.

I was kind of frustrated one day in my 30s and had several performances coming up and feeling totally overwhelmed. Dad’s advice, “If you love what you’re doing and it matters, slow down and enjoy it. It’s not a race. It’s about your life and loving what you do.”

Dad & Mom, 1956

I was about 11 and did one of those random kid goofy things that boys do. I don’t remember the occasion but I will never forget what he said.

“You’re one of the only kids I have ever known that can fall into a bucket of shit and come out smelling like rose!” 

At about 15 and a half I snuck the car out to do my Sunday morning paper route. I got it stuck in a ditch. I had to walk home and wake the old man up and he say’s,

“Jesus, you really do some stupid stuff sometimes.”

That’s all I ever heard about it... When we got the car out of the ditch, he made me drive it home. I never snuck the car out again.

During one of the darkest chapters of my life I had to make a decision. I was in my late 40s. I moved in with Dad because his end was near, and I too was in need.

(Who was helping whom?, I'll never know.)

One day, we were talking and I went off on his doctors who I thought were full of shit. I mean like really, he’s near the end, he’s dying, and you’re lecturing me about his diet? 

Renegade that I am, that Saturday I made him one of his favorite dinners, a broiled sirloin steak with sautéed mushrooms and garlic, green beans, mashed potatoes, a fresh tossed salad with homemade Italian dressing, and a big helping of Neapolitan ice cream for dessert.

Afterwards we enjoyed a couple of old classic movies. 

Dad asks, “How’d you get to be such a good cook?”

I paid attention growing up. We were fortunate and had several in our family.

Bless you Dad. I really enjoyed our memories this week. I’m thankful for the time we had together. There’s more, but today I'm enjoying that they’re just between you and me. 

Happy Birthday!

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