Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.
My dream reader would be my Dad, I’m sure many people are going to nominate their “parent” one or both, but I am nominating my Dad because he is the one who taught me to love reading and writing.
I remember when I was young maybe grade 3 or 4, and we had read the book “Storm Boy” by Colin Theile and then we went as a school excursion to see the movie, about a young boy who lives on a wild beach in South Australia and finds an injured Pelican at the beach and rescues him and as is usual they formed a great friendship.
So we had to do an assignment a book review with title page and written review etc. back then I was not good at art, really NOT good. But I struggled along getting more and more frustrated, I was trying to re-create the front cover of the book..
I was trying to do that heading and another drawing of the Pelican. Anyways by the time my Dad got home at 6:00pm, he was tired and I was cranky, he asked me “What do you need to do?” I explained the project and I explained what I wanted, so he settled himself down and took over. He got the title exactly right, he measured and he did guide lines and it was picture perfect, then he proceeded to draw the pelican. After all these years I can still see my Father sitting at the kitchen table, his overalls wet and muddy, his cement caked steel capped boots under the table, doing my school homework with his builders pencil and my bright pink eraser.
After Dad finished drawing the pelican, he got me a clean sheet of paper and made me trace it, because he said “At least that way you did draw it” I went to school with my project and I got an A plus and it was displayed for all to see, Dad and I were so proud.
My father was a builder, a bricklayer who was the “Boss” he drew up plans of houses and whatever else he needed to build, so I assume that is where I get whatever artistic ability I have from. What I also got from my Daddy was my love of books. My Dad would read anything and everything. When a library opened in Church Street, Dad seemed to be the first one there signing up for a library card and he came home raving about the books, and the smell of the new carpet and how clean and quiet it was there, he asked me “Dolly want to come with me when I return these books and we will get you a card?” Why not? Any outing with Dad was an adventure.
What a habit he created! Every Saturday morning if he wasn’t working, if he was it would be Sunday. We would go to the library and choose our books. Of course they wouldn’t let me have my own library card, I had to borrow under Dad’s card, I was “too young” the first day he took me there, he took me into the kids section and showed me how to look up the type of book I wanted, Did I have a favourite author? Let’s look them up. He called over the Librarian to ask her to teach US how to use the microfiche, so we could find what we wanted. How exciting. then he took me back to borrow a book, I chose Nina Bawden’s “Peppermint Pig” what an amazing book!
Johnnie was only the runt of the litter, a little peppermint pig. He’d cost Mother a shilling, but somehow his great naughtiness and cleverness kept Poll and Theo cheerful, even though it was one of the most difficult years of their lives.
Looking back, I probably borrowed this book for two reasons, A) my Dad’s name was John and B) anything “Peppermint” gets my attention. But this book was brand new! I was the first person to borrow it.
It was the best book, I read it again when my Daughters were little.
The library visits became out thing, we even started borrowing books for Mum, she had terrible eye sight so Dad and I would take turns in choosing “Large Print” books for Mum. She wasn’t as huge a book lover as Dad and I but we all read.
The other thing that I got from my Dad was my love of writing. Dad used to write “stuff” lists and notes and letters, and on any scrap paper, recently I was going through some old papers and I found a draft he had started in the back of one of my bedroom wall posters, I guess it was going to be thrown out so Dad had used it, one of the 1/4’s had the drawing for what would become the kitchen wall unit he built into the kitchen and on another 1/4 was the draft of a letter he was writing to the school principal to report an incident where I had been bullied, and kicked and punched and even now 30 plus years later as I read that letter I can hear my Father’s voice. I remember going into the Principal’s office after he had gotten the letter which my Dad insisted on posting! We had to have a meeting and it got quite heated, finally Dad stood up and threw the parting shot “if THAT child touches my daughter, even as much as one hair on her hair, again, I will be calling the police and the Education department, and I will sue you all!” With that he took my hand and my Mother’s hand and led us out of his office. Thank you!!
There is another letter in there, when I was twelve years old, my parents sent me across country to Western Australia, with my eldest sister and her family, for a holiday, my Dad decided that he could afford to send me with them and what a great opportunity it would be! HIS words. I hated it, every minute, My parents would call up my Brother and speak to my sister and then ask to speak to me, I was so home sick for my Dad I couldn’t talk, I would choke up and then after he hung up I’d cry, I wanted to go home. So he decided to take a different approach and he wrote to me. It was a long letter full of news from home, about my dog Dusty who was missing me and my cat Tiger who was laying on my bed missing me, and he wondered why I wouldn’t talk to him on the phone, did I miss him? Is that why? He asked. I still cry when I read that letter and I still miss him. It has smudged where the tears fell.
There’s one more letter from my Father I have, it’s old, its over 50 years old and it’s not to me, it’s to my Mother and he asks her a very similar question, he knew why we wouldn’t talk to him on the phone, we missed him. That letter is hard to read, but it’s bittersweet because I hear his voice, long before I was born he was writing and I can still hear his voice.
When I was in highschool I wanted to be just like my Dad, I wanted to be a bricklayer and I wanted the business card to say “John Scarffe and daughter” so I told the careers teacher that and she laughed and said “Tskk, Girls can’t be builders, keep thinking” so I went home and told him that! Come parent teacher night he asked out loud for all to hear “which one is the careers teacher?” He was shown which one and he went over to her and asked did she know his daughter? Yes of course she did, he asked “What did she tell you she wanted to do when she finished school?” She laughed, wrong answer! She said “Oh some nonsense about being a builder” definitely WRONG answer.
He leaned down nice and close and told her “MY daughter can be anything she wants to be whether she’s a male or a female. Don’t you DARE tell her otherwise” he also threatened to remove me from the school and enroll me in the technical college down the road!
My Dad has always told me “If you can dream it you can do it!” He never took with that “girls can’t be ….” In his world they could be anything they wanted.
My Dad only got to meet my eldest daughter she was 22 months when he died, my second daughter was 6 weeks old. I Just know he would be watching over my family and chuckling at me, because I do with mine what he did with me, I love to help with school projects and go to the library, and now we have another generation to guide.
One day I am going to write a book and on the first page I will dedicate it to
“John Oliver Scarffe, My Father who said “You can be anything you want to be“