Saturday, September 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad


My father John, (he's the cowboy, and the clown is his younger brother Pete) was a freshman in college when he approached his father Anthony to ask if he would co-sign a loan so my father could purchase his first car. Anthony replied, "No". (And with good reason, too, for my father was not always the most reliable of young men, and lacked a certain maturity that his father wished for him to have.) Now, this was not the answer my father had hoped for, and in fact he was so ticked off at his father, that out of spite he did the one thing that he knew would hurt his greek immigrant father the most; he quit collage, and joined the army, crushing his fathers dreams of seeing his first born son graduate from college.


John was sent to Germany, where he spent his time deciphering morse-code and getting into trouble. He was court marshaled twice. Once for getting into a bar brawl, (the scar under his one eye is a result of that fight) and once for stealing someone's raincoat, (someone had stolen his first.)

While in the army, John received word that his father had died. Anthony was a captain in the Civil Air Patrol and while flying his plane on a search and rescue mission one very foggy day, he became disoriented and crashed into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.


Upon returning home, John discovered that his father had left him with a choice, the family restaurant or $25,000. John took the money, and immediately enrolled in college. And that is where he stayed for the rest of his life, first working under Milton Eisenhower at Johns Hopkins University, (where he arrange for Dr. Martin Luther King to come and speak) then later moving to Pennsylvania where he became a vice president of one liberal arts college, and later the president of another, (where he transformed a run down neglected college into one of the top small liberal arts colleges on the east coast) and where I believe he spent the happiest days of his life.


My father died almost six years ago from a very rare form of leukemia. Before he died he made a pilgrimage trip of sorts to his fathers island of Chios. If he were alive today, it would be his 74th birthday. My father loved acting and the theatre, classical music, literature, history, and collecting art. He considered every man his equal and his friend. Once when I was a young girl a friend of his talked him into going hunting. He shot a dove. I watched him when he came home. He stood by the sink, holding the dove in the palms of his hands, and he began to weep. He explained to me what he had done, and how remorseful he was. Then he cleaned the bird, cooked the bird, and forced himself to eat it to insure that it did not die in vain. He never picked up a gun again.


Happy Birthday Dad, I love you and miss you.

29 comments:

nicolette said...

What a wonderful celebration of your dad! I can imagine he’s missed immensely!

Take care!

Hey Harriet said...

Your father certainly sounds like he was a remarkable man! That was a beautiful post about your dad, and thanks so much for sharing it. Love the photos also, especially the one of your dad as a little cowboy! That's gorgeous!

littlebyRD said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Dad! I really enjoyed reading the story. The photos are great!

MIMILEE said...

What a precious tribute to honor your dad on his birthday. I know you must miss him terribly....

Thank you for sharing.

Best Regards,
MIMILEE<><

kelly said...

This is a lovely, lovely tribute. Thank you so much for sharing.

Sandra Ree said...

Victoria, you wrote from your heart and it was amazing. This brought tears to my eyes because as you well know, my dad is fighting his cancer every day. Thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt tribute to your dad. I see now why you’re so wonderful!

Victoria said...

Thank you Sandra. I think of you and your father, and my heart goes out to both of you. I know as a daughter how hard it can be to watch your father go through this. I hope he makes it through with flying colors!

Bascom said...
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Bascom said...
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Cicada Studio said...

Thank you for that intimate portrait of your father. I can read the pride in your words. I love the photos, as well. I can feel his warmth.

Victoria said...

Thanks everyone, and thank you Bascom for the lovely toast, he would have loved that!

Rosebud Collection said...

A most beautiful tribute to a wonderful man..I am sure he is smiling down at you for the beautiful blog..

Miss Frugality said...

The photos seem to capture a man who enjoyed his life.This is a such a lovely tribute to him.

Jaimee said...

I love reading about family history...thanks for sharing!

blazedanielle said...

Great photos and memories!! I love his subtle expressions! Happy Birthday!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

this is such a beautiful piece for your father, a perfect celebration...i'm sure he is so proud of you...love to you on what must be a difficult day...

Magdalen said...

Thanks for sharing, Vic. That was a wonderful post about your father. Those photos are great. Gosh, you really look like his daughter :-)

Victoria said...

Thanks again everyone. Your lovely comments made this a wonderful day, and i appreciate it so much, as would my father.

Maggie, everyone always said how much I looked like my mom, but I agree with you, I think I look a lot like my father!

Ali said...

thank you for sharing such a personal and lovely story about your dad. And the pictures are lovely - I love the photo booth ones!

PAO said...

I was just a second lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol's Maryland Wing when I served as Public Affairs Officer for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the airplane crash that killed Capt. Anthony J. Synodinos.

It was held April 3, 2004 in Havre de Grace, Md. and Brig. Gen. Charles A. Morgan III, assistant adjutant general for air of the Maryland Air National Guard, presented a proclamation from Gov. Ehrlich.

Capt. Synodinos was the pilot on a search and rescue mission on April 6, 1954 that stretched from Long Island, N.Y. to Langley Field, Va. for a missing T-33 military jet that was never found.

Their open-cockpit Ryan PT-22 airplane crashed into the water at 1:05 p.m.

To see the story I wrote, you can go to this link on the Maryland Wing web site: http://mdcap.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=article.display&articleid=76

Best wishes to you all.

Regards,
Capt Steven Solomon
Director of Public Affairs
Southeast Region Headquarters
Civil Air Patrol
Tampa, Florida

Jackie said...

I can't really add anything to whats been said except that I know how sad it is to lose your father.And how interesting to read the story of this particular father and Grandfather.
XXX

Lynn E said...

Just by looking at the pictures , you can tell he has a bit of a rascal in him and must have been a real charmer. Losing a parent is hard. I lost my mom 2 years ago.

High Desert Diva said...

Wonderful post.

Victoria said...

Dear Captain Solomon,

How incredibly kind of you. Yes, that was indeed my grandfather, and I attended the service. It meant the world to me. I have been back since to view the redone memorial, which is very lovely.

Thank you so much for the link. I will be contacting you.

Best wishes,
Victoria

Victoria said...

Thank you everyone.

Lynn, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

Jackie, Thank you.

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T.Allen-Mercado said...

This is a beautiful, moving tribute, thanks for sharing.

Fog and Thistle said...

This was really moving. Thanks for sharing your father with us.

Amy C said...

what a lovely post, the top picture is so lovely