Father’s Day

old photo
My father with a ukulele in one of the big bands he played with in the 1930s.

My dad with a ukulele some time in the 1930s, aspiring pianist, composer and performer, life, the Great Depression, a world war, the family business, kind of got in the way of all that, though I remember my dad writing little squiggly marks on lined paper after dinner on the kitchen table, and I imitated this, though I had no idea what it was as he wrote up his arrangements of popular songs for the big bands still performing around Pittsburgh in the 60s and 70s. Born in 1919, he left school in the sixth grade in 1931; it was the Great Depression and he began working in his parents’ bakery, and never returned to school.  He served all four years of WWII as an Army baker and cook, then came home to try out music again, but ended up working as a baker in small bakeries around Pittsburgh, creating incredible breads and rolls and amazing European pastries, skills which his father had brought from Poland. Working six nights a week, starting his day when most people were fast asleep and coming home at breakfast with a bag of imperfect doughnuts and hard rolls, still warm; the hours and had work took their toll, he had Parkinson’s disease from before the time I was born and was fully engaged with it when I was a child, though he wasn’t diagnosed until the early 80s, and he died after lung cancer and the final effects of Parkinson’s in 1991.

I wish you’d had the chance to follow your dreams. I’m doing my best to follow mine.

Happy Father’s Day, love, Bernadette


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