Friday, June 18, 2010

My Dad, John Bartram Penson III (1919-1987)

I grew up on a farm because of my father who, at the age of 40, decided that he’d always wanted to be a farmer. My folks were both Chicago kids who’d ridden their bikes to outlying towns just to see farmland. Mom was born in Lombard, and Dad on Western Avenue in Morgan Park. He was passionate about art, and knew from a very early age that he was going to be an artist, and somehow, during the heat of the depression, managed to attend the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago.

When World War II broke out, he was so passionate about enlisting and becoming a pilot that he threatened to move us all to Canada because the RAF would accept him – a doddering old man at the age of 27 – and the fledgling Army Air Corps here in the States would not (the men in his flight class called him “Pops”). Eventually, The USAAC resolved the issue by admitting him. He trained in Texas, where I now live, flying B-25s until the war ended, never seeing action. His uniform, his wings, his service was a source of extreme pride to him to his final days.

He worked as a commercial artist for most of his career, designing well known packages for Kleenex, AC spark plugs, logos for UpJohn, Wammo, and retired from this to teach commercial art at Northern Illinois University. He appeared in an ad in Time magazine when I was a child, something that inspired complete awe and wonder in me.

He’d played baseball as a young man, eventually working his way up to a small farm unit for the St Louis Cardinals, but “gave it up for women” (my mom.)

From my father, I inherited my creativity, my sensitivity, but also my addictiveness and depression. As is the way of all people, we inherit both the good and the bad from our folks. Despite this, I wouldn’t trade who my father was with anyone. When my mom met him, she thought he looked like Tyrone Power and was immediately smitten.

There is not a single day of my life that passes that I don’t think about my father. He was enormously prideful in equal amounts to his sensitivity, and at time very irascible, belligerent, at others as caring and compassionate as any living man.

Once, when he and my mother were courting, walking along Lake Michigan, they’d seen a crowd gather at the breakfront watching a dog that was struggling in the breakwater, unable to climb the rocks. It infuriated my father, and after belittling the crowd verbally (which I can easily image him doing), he stripped off his shirt and dove into the churning, icy water. The dog, near drowning, clawed at him, scratching him, but he clung on, and was helped out of the water with the dog (by the same people he’d belittled). My mom was won over.

Here’s to you, Dad. I’ll love you always.

20 comments:

  1. 在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................

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  2. 向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

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  3. 一棵樹除非在春天開了花,否則難望在秋天結果。..................................................

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  4. 與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  5. 一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼....................................................

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  6. 人生有些波折,才能有些成長,所以不論順逆,凡是成長、成功的助緣,都應該心存感激。.................................................

    ReplyDelete
  7. 教育的目的,不在應該思考什麼,而是教吾人怎樣思考............................................................

    ReplyDelete