1. Slices and Bits
Welcome! In this Sunday post I want to introduce a series of vignettes, “Slices and Bits”. Hope you’ll follow and subscribe!
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This is a new version of a piece published in the journal mac(ro)mic. Hope you’ll enjoy it.
My father’s time off was to be respected, and the family spent Sunday afternoons and evenings in the reverential quiet that he required. But he seemed to enjoy cooking bacon and eggs or pancakes after Sunday Mass.
My grandmother took six soft bakery rolls from the white paper bag and arranged them in the green bowl on the kitchen table. Sunday breakfast was the only meal of the week when we two adopted girls, our mother, father, and grandparents might be together at our New Jersey family home.
The sulfur scent of cellulose pulp messaged Dad’s immersion in the Times, which still avers that what you get is news “fit to print”. He selected sections, laying pages out on the living room broadloom. I stepped around them to locate the funnies.
Across from the navy blue wool-upholstered club chair where he read — it was too itchy for me — I sprawled on the couch to read my favorites: Dick Tracy, The Katzenjammer Kids, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, and Brenda Starr, Reporter.
At fourteen, I’d soon be his height—5’7”. His legs stretched out, ankles crossed and casual, he might have had on a pair of well-worn dark grey permanent press slacks. An Air Force Intelligence officer, while on duty in nearby Manhattan, he wore a suit and tie. He opened the first section across his lap and reviewed a 1960s world week.
My mother limited her conversation on Sunday, often retreating to their bedroom, or with her mother in the sewing room. If I risked an inquiry or attempted attention, I would learn that questions were disruptive and that Dad might deliver a sermon— or his ire. It was best to have a book or magazine or to steal off to find a friend.
His advanced degree was in economic geography, so he could have shared opinions and topics. Perhaps the Cold War complexities he wasn’t cleared to discuss with me kept him quiet. It wasn’t until after he retired from the government in ththearly ‘70s, that he became openly conversational — let’s say prone to lecture — about world issues, or known terrorists, or the serious threat of the then Soviet Union to the American Way of Life — Democracy.
Having left the seminary to marry, Dad decided to become a Catholic Deacon when he retired. He then spoke freely, and with authority about religion and his world views. When I was at home, his somber features had given me clues to the troubled world I was to inherit. I had only gleaned what he well understood.
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