Readers share cherished memories of fathers – Entertainment & Life – GoErie.com – Erie, PA

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From walking in his shoes – literally – to special moments, dads prove unforgettable.

Nothing we could say about fathers on Father’s Day would equal what our readers remember about their own fathers and father figures. We simply asked, and are honored to share the memories they offered.  •

Kevin Rogers is the father of nine, this (Braydon Kalinowski, 5) being our youngest, and the grandfather of seven. I could not ask for a better father. Our son — this little boy’s older brother — died a year ago and this man has been a rock for our children and grandchildren. He can be 100 miles away and he makes them feel like he is right there next to him. He is the best father a child could ask for.

My Dad, Ron Hinkle, now 83, was a building contractor his whole life. My first memory is walking in his work shoes when he came home from work. I was 3, but loved those big work shoes.

Dad would work on houses all day, come home for supper, take a short nap and go back on the job to clean up and prepare for the next day. When I was a little older, he would let me go with him some evenings. I would sweep sawdust, pick up nails, and one time he even let me paint a closet in a house he was building. He would empty his nail apron at the end of the workweek and those nails were mine. I would pound nails in every piece of scrap wood or log I could find.

My dad raised and supported five kids, always took us to Georgia once a year so that my mother could see her family, and we had a blast on every trip.

I admire how he took care of my mother when she had cancer.

This Father’s Day, I feel blessed to still have my Dad.

Thirteen years. That’s how long I that I had to get to know my daddy, William Stanley Tennant. Bits and pieces of memories float into my mind from time to time: walking to get an ice cream cone, a rare visit to a pool for a swimming lesson, sitting on the front porch together reading — he, a detective magazine, me the latest Alfred Payson Terhune’s book about collie dogs.

Daddy seemed to be gone a lot. One day he would be at the supper table, and the next day my mother would be trying to explain his absence.

By the time my Daddy was 12, he was in an orphanage in Pittsburgh. I know very little about this part of his life as he never talked about it. What I do remember is him singing a little ditty about a train that he had picked up while driving an ambulance in France during World War I. The trauma of those years of searching the battlefields for wounded soldiers must have stayed with him the rest of his life. He was only a teenager.

He worked for the American Bridge Co. in Ambridge, Pa., then in a flour mill in West Virginia or somewhere else doing who knows what. There would be an occasional letter.

When he finally came home, I was barely 13, and not able to understand post-traumatic stress disorder. One morning at 7 a.m., I heard a loud noise down in the kitchen. A borrowed gun had ended the grief, the constant headaches, the fateful memories, and the struggle to maintain a “normal” life. The sweet, gentle man whom I loved, my Daddy, was gone.

Ignatius Nikolishen was the best. Patient, hard working, good husband/father and dzia-dizia to his many grandchildren. So many precious memories that it’s hard to pick just one.

Here’s a memory from my grade school years: Saturday mornings were special because I had Dad all to myself. Being early risers, we would get up and go buy “day old” doughnuts and Golden Crust bread at one of the delicious bakeries in Erie while everyone else was sleeping. What a treat! After eating our breakfast, we would toast the bread for the rest of the family while Dad talked. I heard all about growing up in a small village in Ukraine, his adventures coming to America, the hardships of the depression, etc. He died in January 1999, just after his 90th birthday.

I was blessed to have had him as my father. Wish I could hear another story. 

A few days before Christmas my two sisters and I would bundle up in snowsuits, scarves, gloves and buckle-up boots against the cold December morning. We would head out from our home on Lake Street and trek down the street to the Girard Boro Park. Down the long hill in anticipation of what was to come.

Soon Dad (Walter Demar) would turn off onto a snow-covered path deep into the woods which would lead us high above Elk Creek. Suddenly, Dad would stop and smile. Like magic was the most beautiful evergreen we had ever seen, glistening in the sunlight just waiting for us: Our perfect Christmas tree. Dad chopped it down quickly and tied it up. We all got to take turns dragging it home.

What a magical night it was as we decorated the tree in tinsel and lights as we all sang Christmas carols.

My grandfather, Victor Hankanen, was a carpenter from Finland. One of the things he built for my parents was a large wooden wagon. My grandparents lived near West Second and Plum streets. My dad would pull my sister and I across West Third Street in this wooden wagon to visit them.

My pride came later in life, recognizing that my grandfather Victor Hankanen had seeing this large wooden wagon come down Plum Street to visit.

The wooden wagon as well as my beloved grandparents are long gone, but who is to say the spirit of the wooden wagon doesn’t travel still over West Third to Second and Plum?

I have so many fond and funny stories about my dad, Clifford Saunders. It’s hard to choose just one. But the one that I chose was when he taught me how to drive.

We lived out in Greenfield Township on a dirt road with fairly deep ditches on either side. Dad had a wooden bed pickup that was old and with a standard shift on the column. He told us that if we learned how to drive it (“Keep it between the ditches”) we could drive anything!

Well for those of you of a certain age, you know a column shift was trickier than a floor shift. It took both feet to push the old clutch in, let alone master the sequence of a column shift. But after many hours of clutch grinding and missing gears (and tears — lots of tears) and making me do it over and over again — including the dreaded three-point turns — I was finally able to drive the monstrosity.

I graduated to practicing in our car, which I immediately drove too fast out of our driveway, across the road and took out the mailbox! To this day, especially on icy roads, I still hear Dad say “Keep it between the ditches!”

My grandfather, David Smith, passed Feb. 21. This was the man who raised me as his own, a true father. While combing through memories, there is one that truly stands out to me.

One afternoon in grade school, I got off the bus and went inside as usual. Under the coffee table was the most beautiful puppy I’d ever seen. My granddad was sitting next to her, beaming at me. “Whose puppy is that?” I stammered. “Yours!” he exclaimed.

I had begged for a puppy for months prior. He waited until everyone had left for the day, drove to Ohio, and brought me my best friend. My mother and grandmother came home from a day trip to find a dog dish and a very unapologetic granddad.

From Thanksgiving dinner to opening presents on birthdays, my grandfather’s gift to me brought me so much joy.

My favorite memory of my dad, Stan Shelly, is having him in my life for 50 years. My earliest memory of him is when I was 3 years old. At that time, I enjoyed placing his size 13 wing-tipped shoes on my tiny feet. I remember walking around the house as if I were my father.

When my dad was only 10 years old, his father died. He became “man of the house” and started working as a paperboy. Dad and my mum, Nancy Shelly, met when they were children. As a teenager, Dad suffered with rheumatic fever. However, he got well, worked diligently and married my mum when they were 22 years old.

My dad gave my mum, my brothers and me many blessings — love and the power and understanding of having faith in oneself and in God. My dad demonstrated the importance of committed relationships. In 1998, after a lengthy illness, my mum died. However, our family continued to grow and enjoy life. Dad knew the importance of moving forward, met my bonus mother, Eleanor (Twohig) Shelly and married her.

Our Sept. 27, 2016, my brother Keith Shelly and I had to inform Dad that our oldest brother, Mark Thomas Shelly, unexpectedly died. All of these experiences and challenges have shaped my dad and us and have made us stronger. Our dad, with great faith in God, continued to walk in grace.

Now I am a parent of a teenager, James Stanley Amoriello. Even though it’s very hard, both figuratively and physically, to walk in my dad’s shoes, I try my best to walk forward in grace — just like my dad.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Alex Kupniewski, who is in heaven.

I am so thankful for the gift I had in my dad. It makes me smile to imagine that if God ever needed to explain what a godly father should be like on Earth, he could have pointed to my dad and said “That’s what I mean.”

My dad taught me a lot about life and seemed to have wisdom for just about any situation. He gave advice on the practical side of life, how to stay on the right road. The presence of God in his heart was most precious, it gave him peace in any circumstance, a kind word and a sense of humor that always caused me to smile. 

My dad had an unshakable faith that his hand was always holding God. He never stopped being a father. Even after I was grown, he still wanted to make sure I would not stumble in the dark, to lose my way. It was in the shelter of my life, you dear dad, you left imprints inside my heart that lasts forever.

(When we were) growing up in Chicago in the 1930s and ’40s, my parents (Edward and Babette Motz) took us on an outing every weekend. 

One Saturday, we took the streetcar to the circus. Upon arrival, my father turned to my mother and asked “Did you bring the piano?”

He said. “Because the tickets are in an envelope on top of it!”

After the audience was seated, they saw our four empty seats in the top row. I didn’t remember the circus acts, but I will never forget my dad’s weird sense of humor!