Dad died the same day ABC aired the last episode of The Wonder Years. I watched it Sunday morning for the first time in awhile.
Still miss him.
Fourteen years ago – specifically, just after 4 p.m. EDT and immediately following a Harrison Ford interview airing on the in-room hospital television – I became a dad.
And just about every day now I experience a moment or two of that amazement and pride and wonder – regularly spiced with a bit of bizarre humor and light sarcasm – which Kelsey brings to our lives. (Also, if she wasn’t around, our Rock Band-ing would be severely lacking in the drums department.)
So if you happen to see her today, feel free to wish her a Happy Birthday, and tell her I said Thank You.
With Kelsey now free of the Windows machine, I finally got around to setting it up in our back room, mostly so I can use the flatbed scanner. (The old Microtek parallel port never played well with the Linux machine, and I can’t justify buying a newer, nicer scanner at the moment.) I’ve had some old pictures of Dad I’ve been wanting to preserve electronically for awhile now, so I used a couple for today’s test run of the reinstalled software.
The first two are from Dad’s time in the Air Force.
The first one’s labeled on the back in Mom’s handwriting: Rich – basic training. Amarillo 1968 or W. Falls 11/68.
That makes my dad 21 years old. (Unless it’s before 5/5/68, in which case he’s 20.)The funny thing is, I look at this picture and see, well, my dad. Even though he’s just over half my current age in this photo, I can’t see him as just a couple years removed from being a teenager. Not that he looks old, but I can’t mentally detach the future Rich Booth from the one standing here under the Texan sky.
I was two-and-a-half years from coming into the world when that picture was taken. This one’s from a few years later:
Ah, the classic “Take a picture of me taking a picture! It’ll be great!” (Funny: I have a very similar Polaroid picture from the early 1980s of my friend Mike shooting toward me with his Polaroid camera. The gag never goes out of style, right?) This is South Korea, and though it’s an undated shot, the location means it’s got to be somewhere between November 1970, when I was born, and 1972, when Dad came home and left the service. (Update 4/13/10 – According to mom, Dad left for Korea in late July of 1971, was home the month of Feb 1972 on leave, and home for good in Aug. of 1972, so there are two six-month windows when this picture could have been taken.)
And yes, those hills do look like the ones in M*A*S*H, don’t they?
I’m still a little fascinated by the black and white pictures Dad and his friends took while they were overseas. (And I’m grateful to my mom for her vigilance and organizational skills, because we’ve got a well-organized collection of meticulously labeled and dated photo albums that make feeding my nostalgia cravings easy.)
I had those two sitting around waiting to be scanned for a long time, but I just dug up the third picture this afternoon because it came to mind recently after reading this post about E.T. – The Atari Game. (I also listened to the Retroist podcast on this particular movie/merchandising juggernaut not too long ago.)
Now, I’m pretty sure my little brothers got this cartridge for Christmas, 1982 – I have a picture of them wearing their footie pajamas and excitedly holding the silver-and-red Atari game box over their heads – and I’m also pretty sure that’s the same Christmas I got my first camera – that Polaroid instant I mentioned earlier. That would explain why I have a bunch of weird, staged, fairly pointless pictures that all seem to reflect a pretty small time window.
Case in point – this picture of Dad celebrating the triumph of being the first person in the Booth house to beat that effing E.T. game. I totally put him up to this pose, because, you know, I could take a picture of it!
Now, what’s kind of weird about having picked these three pictures is that Dad is clean-shaven in all of them, despite the fact that he had a moustache for pretty much his entire adult life. (This time in the early 1980s when he decided to shave it off? He grew it back as soon as someone said he looked like his brother, my Uncle John. His significantly older brother.) In fact, outside of seeing these photos, it’s really hard to remember Dad without his moustache.
I can remember taking this picture, and having having Dad stand there in front of the fireplace. And since the Christmas decorations are still up, I deduce two things: 1) It’s probably no later than the first or second week of January, 1983 and 2) We must have played the hell out of E.T. for those first few weeks we had it, because I remember that it felt like it took for-freaking-ever for someone to finally win at the damn thing.