Comedian Chris Rock recognized the secondary nature of Father's Day and said, "The only upside of being daddy is getting the biggest piece if chicken." Comedian Jim Gaffigan said, "The father is the vice president of the family. He has the fancy title but has no decision-making authority." I don't know about other dads but I grew up in a home where my father lost every vote that ended up in a one-to-one tie; and that culture remains true in my house today.
The other day, I had an especially pleasant dream. It took place in a small town park in California, (my son Andrew is flying to Hollywood in a couple of weeks). Across the street that surrounded the park was a magnificent, vintage theater called the Aloha. I tried to read what they were showing but the marquee, even in daylight was obscured by the glare of an incredible neon brilliance that transformed the 1950's movie house into a futuristic aura of visual excitement.
Beyond the crowded hubbub in front the theater, far down along its exterior wall, there was a scenic overlook of the ocean. I saw my dad. He was anxious to show me the sea view. I told him about the theater and said I wanted to show it to my wife Sue.
Sue was on a blanket in the park. I sat with her and told what I had seen. A bunch of strangers encouraged me to throw a Frisbee with them...and I did. I was having a lot of fun but decided to get Sue and join my dad. I woke up. I felt happy and energized.
The dream coincided with Father's Day, later this week. Despite being a cheaply concocted holiday, the day helps me recall the best memories with my dad. At the same time, it also reminds me to leave a legacy of good times that my Andrew will appreciate after I'm gone.
|JULY 1998, OCEAN CITY MARYLAND. IF YOU HAVE TO MAKE A BUFFOON OUT OF YOURSELF TO MAKE YOUR KID SMILE, IT'S WORTH IT. EVEN IF YOUR ASS IS NUMB FOR TWO WEEKS.|
In today's blog, I will use the imagines from my dream to celebrate Father's Day while bridging the generation gap that connects my son Andrew with his grandfather.
When I dealt craps at the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, (1980-1982), the PBX operator announced, "Telephone call for Mr. Haskell, Mr. Eddie Haskell telephone." The men on my crew laughed because they were all used to colorful names being paged. But what was even funnier was...the call was for me.
The Stardust prohibited the staff from getting paged. These were the pre-cell phone days so if someone needed to contact us while on duty, coded nicknames were used to preserve our anonymity.
One of my coworkers' encrypted names was Arthur Itis. An effective but less humorous version was used by Noel Martinez who spelled his name backwards, Leon Zenitram. But "Courtesy" Bob Lee had the most elaborate set of secret signals because each name he used such as; Robert Lapper, Duane Million and Dick Marathon each identified a different girlfriend.
I chose Eddie Haskell for two reasons, one was the universal appeal (for my generation) of the Eddie Haskell character portrayed by Ken Osmond from the, "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER," TV show. The name Eddie Haskell always brought a reaction from people. So even if I somehow didn't hear the public address announcement, I was almost guaranteed to hear the response to it.
The other reason I selected the Eddie Haskell name, was that it was a tribute to my dad. The "Eddie" part being a knockoff of our last name...and Haskel being my dad's actual first name.
My dad was never comfortable with his first name. My grandmother wanted to name him after a long-gone relative from the old country whose name started with a CH, (the CH had a guttural pronunciation so it's near-impossible to type-out the phonetic sound of Chotskul). Granny's obvious CH choice would've been Charles but she was afraid he'd be called Charley and that seemed overly common to her.
Somewhere along the line she dropped the "C" and named him Haskel which is amazingly close to Chotskul, (apparently our family tradition of the father being the Vice President extended back to the 1920's because my grandfather never figured into the equation of how my father got stuck being named Haskel).
So grandma was left to her own devices. Where she went wrong was...her pronunciation of my baby daddy's name. Despite being born in the USA and NOT having an Eastern European accent, granny maintained the Yiddish Chotskul sound when she called his name or referred to him.
I guess that at a time when it was hip to flaunt that you were American born, "yankee" parents liked to distance themselves from the stigma of being confused with incoming refugees, (refs). In that regard my grandmother failed because she not only gave dad an uncommon name, but it reeked, due to her own pronunciation, (out of respect to her relative), of being foreign. Even my grandmother's sister, my Aunt Anne, adamantly opposed calling him Haskel or Chotskul...she dubbed him "Sonny." She was still calling him that in his early forties but beyond her, it never stuck. Too bad because, Sonny is a cool name...just ask my cousin Sonny.
|(CIRCA 1920) MY DAD'S PARENTS, (BESSIE AND WILLIE) . WHAT COULD BE MORE AMERICAN THAN AN OUTING TO THE BEACH, (IN THE BACKGROUND, THEY'RE PROBABLY AT CONEY ISLAND...BUT NOT NECESSARILY).|
Dad, as a result of the way his mom voiced his name was teased a lot as a kid. Beyond the slap in the face of being called a "ref," he also took exception to the much milder taunts, like being called Haskel the Rascal, His situation worsened in elementary school when an unsophisticated teacher experienced gender confusion over the name. She called the roll on the first day and misread his name as Hazel. Dad was mortified and didn't respond. The teacher encouraged the "girl" to speak-up and not be bashful. The painful charade ended when some kid cheerfully clued-in the teacher. My poor father was razzed forever. In adulthood dad preferred to be called, "Hy."
Unlike dad, I am NOT a hat guy. Other than a baseball cap to mow the lawn or to protect my head on scorching summer days, I almost never wear hats. The few hats I own were all gifts...except one. I bought it in honor of my dad because in a genuine long shot, it bears his name.
|JUNE 22, 2008. (above), ON OUR FIRST CRUISE TO BERMUDA, I AM WEARING MY HASKELL INVITATIONAL HORSE RACING HAT, (IT'S A GREAT SHOT OF ME AND ANDREW...BUT THE WORDING ON THE HAT...NOT SO MUCH).|
The Haskell is well known among horse racing aficionados throughout the world.
|THE HASKELL TAKES PLACE AT MONMOUTH RACE TRACK, IN OCEANPORT NEW JERSEY. THIS HISTORIC TRACK OPENED IN 1870 AND HAS HOSTED THIS ANNUAL THOROUGHBRED NINE FURLONG FLAT RACE, SINCE 1968.|
Horse racing might be the sport of kings but I'm neither royalty or a fan. Beyond wearing my Haskell hat on that cruise seven years ago, my awareness of horse racing and that hat has pretty much been retired, (or indirectly "put out to stud.")
|(above) THIS YEAR'S VERSION OF THE HASKELL HAT. THE BIG EVENT IS COMING UP ON AUGUST 2nd. I HAVE NO INTENTION OF BUYING THE LATEST EDITION. INSTEAD, I HAVE RESURRECTED MY OLD ONE.|
This past May, my son Andrew toured Israel for ten days. He was provided with a checklist of items to bring. One was a hat. I was happily surprised when he found my Haskell hat in the furthest abyss of the hall closet and asked to borrow it. I was thrilled that he was taking a piece of his grampa's memory with him.
|I KNOW I DWELL ON IT BUT THE BOND BETWEEN THESE TWO WAS IMMEDIATE. IT'S STILL HARD FOR ME TO ACCEPT DAD'S SUDDEN AND EARLY PASSING. BUT THE BIGGER PICTURE IS THAT HE AND ANDREW MISSED OUT ON KNOWING SOMEONE EXTREMELY SPECIAL...EACH OTHER|
Below are pictorial highlights of Andrew's trip to the other side of the world.
|MAY 28, 2015, ARRIVAL AT TEL AVIV INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.|
Talk about adrenaline kicking in, on top of the jet lag associated with a twelve-hour flight, the group got off the airplane and were sightseeing immediately.
|IN THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM, ANDREW POSES WITH HIS HASKELL HAT AT A WALL MURAL.|
Regardless of what you choose to believe in, historically, the entire Mid-East is the cradle of modern civilization. I can't imagine being there and not getting inspired or at least a little misty over the idea that almost all of recorded history to can traced back to that area. And no area epitomizes that notion more than Jerusalem.
|OUTSIDE A TEMPLE, ANDREW ON A PEDESTAL WITH HASKELL HAT.|
Antiquity is everywhere.
|THERE WERE THIRTY PEOPLE IN ANDREW'S PARTY. MOST WERE FROM TEXAS WITH A SPRINKLING OF OTHER STATES BEING REPRESENTED AS WELL AS FRANCE AND BRAZIL.|
Jerusalem may be the holiest city on earth.
|THE "DOME OF THE ROCK" IS THE HOLIEST PLACE, IN THE HOLIEST CITY.|
Outside the Dome of the Rock, at the Temple Mount, is the Wailing Wall.
|BUILT BY "HEROD THE GREAT" BETWEEN 19 BCE AND THE MID-FIRST CENTURY, WORSHIPERS AND TOURISTS STILL GATHER AT THE HOLIEST PLACE IN JUDAISM.|
It looks like Andrew is clowning around...but there is a method to this madness.
One last shot of the ancient city.
|TIME TO SAY FAREWELL TO THE OLD AND EXPERIENCE THE REST OF ISRAEL.|
A part of the indoctrination, throughout the trip, male and female Israeli soldiers act as chaperons, tour guides and security officers while accompanying the group.
|ANDREW OUT IN THE WILDERNESS WITH FOUR OF THE SOLDIERS .|
One of the main tourist sights is Masada. Way above the desert floor, this holy mountain fortress was the famous last stronghold of the ancient Hebrews as they defended them self from the marauding Romans.
|AT DAWN, A NICE SILHOUETTE OF THE HASKELL HAT. AFTER THE GROUP WALKED FORTY MINUTES...UP, TO REACH MASADA'S SUMMIT, ANDREW INCLUDED FOR HIS MOM AND ME, A HUFFING AND PUFFING VIDEO OF HIM STRAINING TO DESCRIBE WHAT HE JUST FINISHED DOING.|
|WITH A SOLDIER ATOP MASADA.|
Near Masada, is the Dead Sea. The move is to cover your body in mud and take a sulfur bath which apparently acts as an invigorating skin treatment.
|ANDREW PARTICIPATED BUT DIDN'T GET ANY COOL PHOTOS. (Above) FROM SUMMER 2013, MY FRIEND JEREMY TOOK THE PLUNGE IN STYLE. ALSO, ON ANOTHER DAY, ANDREW SWAM IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA BUT HAS NO PHOTOS OF THAT DAY EITHER.|
At an irrigation station in the desert, the group spent an overnight in a Bedouin tent.
|THEY SLEPT AND SPENT A LOT OF TIME, INSIDE THE CADILLAC OF TENTS.|
In the God forsaken outpost, the sun was intense.
|ANDREW SET ASIDE HIS HASKELL HAT TO BORROW A HEAD SCARF FROM A LOCAL.|
The big allure to that part of the journey was chumming with the "ships of the desert"...camels.
|AN ANCIENT PARABLE SAYS, "CHOOSE YOUR CAMEL CAREFULLY AND WHILE DOING SO, STAY OUT OF SPITTING RANGE."|
While shopping for the perfect ride, Andrew sought a second opinion.
|TWO LOCALS RECOMMEND THAT ANDREW RIDE "ED THE CAMEL" WHO, UNBEKNOWNST TO HIM, IS AFFECTIONATELY ALSO KNOWN AS "UNLUCKY-13."|
In the end, Andrew made an informed decision on his own...duh!.
|ANDREW PICKED "SNOWFLAKE THE CAMEL." THE PHOTOGRAPHER MUST HAVE BEEN JEALOUS OF HIM AND SPITEFULLY CUT OFF SNOWFLAKE'S HEAD.|
The long motor coach ride to their next destination provided a chance to relax.
|GREAT CANDID SHOT OF THE HASKELL HAT PROVING ITS WORTH BY PREVENTING THE AIR CONDITIONING FROM HITTING HIS SWEATY HEAD.|
Next stop, a lesson on how to live off the desert.
|A KIBBUTZ, (COMMUNAL FARM).|
A great way to experience how the desert can be cultivated.
|ANDREW GETS INTO THE SWING OF THINGS POSING AS A KIBBUTZ-NIK.|
A chill-out day, at a nearby oasis.
|GOD'S GIFT, A WATERFALL IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.|
The trip also served to expose young minds to how other folks live.
|HE AND HIS TEXAS BUDDY ATE FRESH GROWN CARROTS, STRAWBERRIES AND OTHER PRODUCE.|
Touching all the bases, a somber visit to Mount Herzl, Israel's version of Arlington National Cemetery.
|NEAR THE TOMB OF ISRAEL'S UNKNOWN SOLDIER.|
This scenic area was near the border of both Lebanon and Syria.
|ATOP AN ISRAELI HILL WITH LEBANON, (left) and SYRIA (right), IN BACKGROUND.|
The big trip winds down. Back to the city.
|ANDREW WILL NO LONGER TAKE LIFE'S SIMPLER JOYS FOR GRANTED.|
One last crack at Tel Aviv.
|NEAR AN UP-SCALE MALL, POSING WITH JUDAH AND THE MACCA-BEATS.|
The last memory in Israel is of course, psyching one's self up for the anti-climatic long, long flight home.
|THE UNIQUE FOUNTAIN RAINING DOWN FROM TEL AVIV AIRPORT'S CEILING.|
Andrew's Israeli adventure was wonderful. He shared his experiences so well that I almost feel that I was with him. And seeing him wear the Haskell hat makes me happy to imagine that the spirit of his grandfather was really with him. Plus the joy didn't end in Israel, Andrew has adopted the hat as his own which helps preserve his link, through me to his grandfather.
I haven't worked at the Stardust Casino for 33 years. Yet my appreciation for the code-name Eddie Haskell remains strong. Sometimes, I use it as my password or user name on the computer. I hope it doesn't make me an Eddie Haskell-like wise-ass if I don't share which specific accountants they are. Please understand that due to the ridiculous reality of identity theft, I won't be divulging which accounts I used my confidential cleverness on. That means if I gave up such secrets to you, I'd have to kill you.
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY !