Musical Expansion

Posted in Memories on April 30, 2010 by Lisa May

Many years ago my dad and I drove out to my sister’s house in Pittsburgh for a visit. On the way out we talked some, but mostly listened to music. My dad’s musical tastes were fairly simple: classic rock like The Beatles and Stones, early rock like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. For the majority of the 6+ hour drive we listened to that kind of music. I tried to get him to listen some of my newer music, but he really didn’t like much of it.

Then I put on one of my jazz compilation CDs. Again, he really wasn’t digging it, but he tolerated it for my sake. Until track 10 came on, that is.

Track 10 was a more than seven minute long song called St. Louis Blues by an artist named Johnny Lytle, who was known as one of the greatest vibraphone players in the world. It was (and still is) my personal favorite song on that album. When it ended, he actually asked me to play it again – I was thrilled. And then again. And again. I think during the ride out and the ride back we must have listened to that song at least 20 times.

Shortly after we returned from our trip, I bought him that CD so he could continue to enjoy the song.

It was like a little victory for me. All my life my dad introduced me to music that to this day I still love and listen to regularly, and for me to have a chance to do the same for him…well, it was an awesome feeling.

Now whenever I listen to that song it takes me back to that trip, spending all that time driving with him and enjoying our time together, the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery and some great music, and it makes me smile.

If only I had a chance to do that just one more time.

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To hear a 30-second sample of the song, click the play button next to “St. Louis Blues” here: (small word of warning – if you have iTunes on your computer, clicking this link will most likely open the program – at least that’s what it just did to me)

Also, if you don’t know what a vibraphone is you can find out here:


Toasting Marshmallows

Posted in Memories on April 8, 2010 by Lisa May

With warmer weather upon us, I thought it only fitting to post this little tale of a popular summer treat from my childhood.

No summer cookout would be complete without toasting marshmallows over the grill after dinner, right? But what do you do when you’ve already turned the grill off and it’s now out of fuel? Why, you break out a blowtorch, of course!

I cannot remember what year this was, but I remember laughing hysterically when he returned from his workshop with his blowtorch. But hey, toasting marshmallows for his kids was important!

On a side note, the green porch rocker seen in this picture is currently on my front porch, and I sit in it often.


Posted in Memories on March 28, 2010 by Lisa May

I have so few serious photos of my dad it’s almost amazing. Whenever he saw a camera he always turned on the goofball full-force, so the only way to get a serious “normal” picture of him was to either sneak up on him or get him to pose in a serious situation.

For an example of the serious situation, here he is (far right) with his older brother and younger sister after their father’s funeral in 1994.

He had bought the suit for my sister’s wedding only 2 months prior, and you can see very clearly how uncomfortable he was in it. He called them monkey suits and hated wearing them for any reason.

In contrast, here is a pic of him that he took himself, who knows why.

That is the Daddy I remember. Always the goofball.

The Baseball Game

Posted in Memories on March 15, 2010 by Lisa May

Since Spring Training has begun and spring is almost upon us, I thought it was a good time to post this wonderful memory.

I’ve never been that into baseball, and my dad wasn’t that into it either (football was his thing). But when we had a chance to attend a Reading Phillies game together with my (at that time) fiancé and his parents, we couldn’t resist. I don’t really remember much at all about the game or even being there except that it was an ungodly hot afternoon and the heat and the blistering sun was really getting to me; it was giving me a doozy of a headache. My dad, being the awesome dad that he was, gave me his hat so the sun would not be in my eyes. How truly selfless of him. That’s the kind of man he was, and why he will always be remembered fondly by everyone who knew him.

I don’t remember who exactly took this picture that day (I think it was my fiancé’s dad, who was an amateur photographer), but I will always cherish it for capturing that day – and more importantly for capturing my father and me together, which oddly seems to be a rare occurrence in my vast collection of photographs.

I have no memory of which team won that game. I do not remember the “Deck Party Buffet” at all. I couldn’t even tell you what year the game took place without looking at the ticket stub first. But I will always remember my dad selflessly offering me his hat. Thank you, Daddy, for always being such a great person – and a truly wonderful dad.


Posted in Memories on March 7, 2010 by Lisa May

My dad was never one for just standing around doing nothing. The only time he truly relaxed and sat still was while watching TV, and of course he usually fell asleep shortly into whatever program they were watching. The best part, though, was if you commented on him being asleep he would instantly wake up and insist he wasn’t sleeping. Amazing. It was especially impressive since he always snored. Loudly.

Whenever he was “stuck” talking to someone on the phone (which he hated), he would get very jittery. He just couldn’t stand around and do nothing. So, he would pick up a pen or pencil and whatever notepad or paper lay nearby and he would doodle. Sometimes it was some really funny stuff, like this:

Who knows what he was thinking when he drew that, or more importantly with whom he was on the phone (I wonder if it was me?). Regardless, it is a very silly drawing, and typical doodling for him. And actually, this one isn’t that bad considering some of the awful doodles he would create while playing Pictionary. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t easy being his partner for that game, but it was always a riotously good time. I haven’t played it since the last time we played it with him. I just can’t put my heart into it now; it would never be the same.

The Workshop

Posted in Memories on February 18, 2010 by Lisa May

My dad had a workshop  in his basement and would spend many winter weekends down there crafting all sorts of things, from furniture to handmade pens. Many times I’d be down there with him, helping him to measure, cut, sand, stain.

This is how it appeared 2 months after his death, and before a lot of the tools were dispersed to various friends and relatives, including me.

The Workshop

Many wonderful things were crafted in that workshop, including several pieces of furniture which are currently in my own home. He enjoyed working with wood and created many unique things down in that basement, many of his own design.

No matter what tool you needed, he had it – often several of them. Whenever we went to a yard sale or flea market together he would look for more tools to add to the workshop. Once I took him to a specialty shop more than an hour from home so he could buy supplies to make wood pens, most of which I now have. I will not use them, though. I don’t want anything to happen to them because, obviously, they can not be replaced.

Now that my husband and I have our own house, the plan is to move most of the workshop to our house so my husband and I can use the tools. We already have the table saw and many of the hand and power tools. Sometime in the future I am going to try to use the smaller lathe (on the table in the center of the room in the picture) to make pens from the remaining blanks my dad still had. We’ll see how well that goes.

Even though we definitely want it, we don’t look forward to trying to move the large lathe (the very large black thing against the wall in the background of the picture) – it is cast iron and very heavy. My mom always said she couldn’t believe the basement steps didn’t collapse when he brought it into the house. Let’s hope they’re strong enough to see it leave.

And let’s also hope that I’m strong enough to see the workshop leave that house. Just looking at this picture makes my eyes water because I’ll never again get to help that wonderful man create something beautiful in that workshop.

“Little Clyde”

Posted in Memories on January 27, 2010 by Lisa May

When I was looking to move back to Telford in the spring of 2005, one of the cats that lived in the field behind my parent’s house had a litter of kittens, and one of them stood out. He was a very friendly kitten for being a stray and would follow my dad around until he would pet him. Once I moved into my apartment, my dad helped me bring Clyde home, as seen in this picture.

My dad loved Clyde, and that cat would come running from wherever he was when he’d see or hear my dad in the apartment. My dad would come in, find Clyde and pet him while saying “Little Clyde!” in the most loving voice you can imagine. It was very sweet.

A few days after I brought Clyde to the apartment he started acting lethargic until one day I came home from work to find him limp and barely breathing. I called my dad in a panic, and he rushed over and we took Clyde to the vet. As it turned out he had a severe ear infection and was near death – we caught it just in time. My dad loved that cat so much that when I realized I couldn’t afford the vet bill, he paid it – without hesitation.

In our house we have two cats now: Clyde, who is now almost 5 years old, and Harley, who is almost two years old. Don’t get me wrong…I love them both. But Clyde…Clyde is special to me. He was given to me by my dad and shared a bond with him. For that reason, I just can’t help but feel that Clyde is…how do I say it…more important to me? More valuable to me? He’s a sort of connection to my dad that no other pet could ever be, and having him around makes me feel like I still have a living breathing part of my dad around.