These two 16 x 20 posters from the mid-1950s mean an awful lot to me. They are from my dad when he was a project engineer on the Polaris missile project – the first missile that could be fired underwater from a submarine.
After my mom and dad got divorced when I was just one year old, he was as good a father as he could be to me. He’d come to see me every Saturday, almost without fail, unless he was back in DC on business.
When he was away, he’d always send a note or a postcard or a picture of some place he was or something he was working on, as in this case.
Now I don’t recall if he sent these by mail when he was away or gave them to me in person during one of his visits, but I had them on the wall next to my bed for many years. I was so very proud of my daddy!
The poster on the left is glossy and the one on the right is matte finish. I liked the glossy one best because of the shine, but like the picture on the matte one better.
My dad inscribed the lower right corner of the glossy one:
“To my son, David. With love, Daddy”
Made me feel so special. Years later when I had my own kids and had be away on business, sometimes across the country, I tried to always send them notes, postcards, and little gifts just as my dad had done.
In fact, a few months ago I found one of the notes I sent to Keith, along with package of balloons, and a message saying I missed him and looked forward to seeing him soon.
My mom also wrote on the glossy photo at the top saying, “Daddy was project engineer on this missile.
My dad continued to come to see me every Saturday until I was 12. Then he came every two weeks until I was sixteen. And then he said I was old enough we ought to exchange visits.
Until I was 12 I didn’t know he had remarried and that I had half-brothers and sisters. He kept the families separate until I was 16 and then I came to visit him at his home and meet my siblings and his wife for the first time.
We all struck it off so well. Instantly I felt like part of a larger family after having grown up as an only child. And his wife – my step-mom sorta, I guess, was so good to me, and we enjoyed a good friendship every time I visited throughout the years, first by myself, then with Mary and the kids, and eventually with Teresa and combinations of the others too. We were all welcomed as family.
After he died in 2014, my sisters told me that they had always wondered where dad went on Saturdays. All that time when I cried sometimes because I only had a daddy one day a week for a few hours, there were four of them, trying to get time with him on the weekend, and the one of me got him all to myself each week, and with travel time to and from, he must’ve been gone for half a day at least. It was a lot to parse.
Our families don’t get together often, but if any of us travel into the others area, we always catch dinner and have some good times. In fact, the summer before the pandemic, Mindi and Ed and their kids and I all got together with my sister Becky and her husband Bret at the beach.
Now you might wonder how my mom felt about all this, in those days so long ago, and how it worked when she remarried and my dad would pick me up from our home with my step-dad there. Well, it’s complicated. But everyone was nice to each other and I never felt torn – there was no pressure ever on me to be pulled one way or the other.
I’ve had a most fortunately life – feel guilty sometimes about how good my childhood was compared to tales I’ve heard from others. But in the end, I was loved, and I was given a chance to be myself, to find myself, and to share love with others, from my kids to those closest to me and extending to all of my friends.
It’s been a blessed live so far for a kid who was named David (which means “beloved”)
There’s a whole web of stores of my family in those early days, and I hope to have time to share the best of them before I’m done.
Perhaps the never to be made movie of my life will start like Citizen Kane: “What were his last words?” “Rosebud” Only for me it might be “Polaris” (or “Lamby” or “Orchid Bear.”)
But those are other stories for other days.