A few posts ago I shared a sketch I made of my mom from a memory I have of her. So it did not surprise me that lately I have been thinking about particular memories of my dad. What I decided on was a sketch of my dad shopping. As with the sketch of my mom, this is not meant to be a realistic depiction but more of the essence of a particular memory I have.
In order to grasp this image, there are a few things I need to explain about my father. First of all, he loved to shop and really, Really, REALLY loved bargains such as: 50 pounds of sharp provolone cheese, 6 foot in diameter rolls of paper towels, cigarettes he got cheap and gave to people as he lectured them about smoking, etc. But what really stands out about my dad’s shopping habits at this moment is not so much what he bought but how he walked around the store.
My dad was an average size man but he had a very strange shape from the back view. He was straight up and down and had absolutely no rear end. Therefore, his pants were always baggy in the butt. They stayed up by assistance of a belt and a very large belly that was solid muscle (which was not at all apparent from the back). He also had excessively long arms which contribute to this particular memory of him. As dad walked around looking for bargains we had no use for, he would hold his hands behind him in a very contorted manner and point his fingers upward. Usually one hand he held his fingers splayed apart and the other hand his fingers were together as if he was cupping something in that hand. Observing these mannerisms resulted in hysterical fits of laughter from my mother and I. In addition, he was always humming. The song that comes to my mind is one that was a favorite of his is The Shadow of Your Smile.
What struck me odd when I made this image was that I could not really picture any of my father’s clothes. I could picture him in his fireman’s uniform and his painting job clothes (fireman always had about a thousand jobs because they generally had large families, low pay, and a schedule that allowed them to hold down other jobs). He was not by any means a flashy dresser barring the occasional Hawaiian shirt popular in the 1960s and 1970s. His shirts were generally pale in color; that much I remember because they contrasted his olive complexion. I have very vivid recollections of my mother’s clothes but not so much my father‘s clothes which is strange since he was my main caretaker.
So below I present my memory of my dad, hands awkwardly positioned behind him, as he wanders through one of the many stores he loved – Sears, Two Guys, the PX – surrounded by the glitz and glamour of bargains he could not resist.