Dear Old Dad…

I was wandering around the potter’s blogs yesterday and came upon this post my Michael Mahan over at From The Ground Up Pots. It was a beautiful post about his dad and how his dad lived his life and obviously has inspired Michael in his life. What struck me besides that was that he had a picture of his dad working as opposed to sitting posed in a setting like most family pictures and I remembered a picture of my dad that I got out of his dresser right after he died…


As it was explained to me this shot was taken where he worked (at a factory forge in Utica, NY) and was a shot they had taken probably for some kind of marketing or something. When I found the picture today, I realized after not looking at it for years that he was working with kilns and was quite pleased by this realization. When he described his job to me when I was younger, he said that he worked with the annealing ovens and in my mind I guess I pictured a much larger square “oven”. The irony now that I have my own kiln is that with the relatively new computerized kiln controls and the programs used to “fire down” that the similarities betwixt our jobs is even closer as annealing metal is a controlled “fire down” (it’s a “fire up” too) that uses heat to improve properties of metal such as hardness/softness and strength. I also did quite a bit of metal casting and fabrication in school so I guess it’s always been a lot to do with heat. Of course my dad’s job was certainly not a labor of love but more a means to support a family with 5 children. I hesitate to get started about my dad as I could go on for a long time. He taught me to hunt, drive and play golf when I was a kid. He loved words, he was a ravenous reader, love crosswords and all games that made you think. I can’t speak for my siblings but being the oldest, he seemed to never let me get away with anything… word-wise. Before any family read this and get their panties in a wad… I don’t deny that I got away with murder for most of my childhood. But debating was constant, others in the family would call it arguing as I did at the time and mostly because we never won the debate. Say something stupid and he called you out to defend yourself. Of course I get a bit of chiding from my family that I’ve taken his place in this role since his death… they might describe it more as obstinate though. That being said he was never not loving about it and although sometimes I would get frustrated to distraction, he never lost his temper in these exchanges. He did, however, get a bit riled when I got drunk and totaled the car at 18. He died too young, so young that if I don’t outlive his age, I’ve only got 5 years left. I used to visit home from college and later, on holidays and we stayed up til early in the morning playing cribbage which I think is the perfect card game for 2 people. Would that I could play just one more night with him. Well, here’s the bowl I posted to Etsy yesterday (clicking 1st goes to Etsy, other enlarges)…




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7 Responses to “Dear Old Dad…”

  1. Blum Says:

    Cheers to Dads! Loving old grumps that they are… destined to be are we!

  2. meredith Says:

    love the bowl and the story.
    I am 4th child second daughter of 5 kids born in under 6 years.
    My father was a newspaper man who worked at the “word factory”.
    I love dad stories and miss mine every day.
    Your Sofia will have some good tales to tell on you one day!
    PS- I thought of you all as I was at the wedge- wishing you were all there as well!

  3. Michael Kline Says:

    Great story, Jim. My father was an avid cribbage player, but he reserved his playing for Saturday afternoon with his buddy up the road. I remember him trying to teach me once but he had very little patience with my stammering card playing. Maybe I’ll pick up the game someday. For now I’ll stick to my dart board.

  4. elfriede Says:

    What a great photo of your dad. I only met him one time, I think, in Carbondale. I think we all went bowling and I fell in love with him right away. I’ve never forgotten it.
    Thanks for the link to the blog with the Nina Hagen pics. Before I even got far enough to realize it was her, I thought “Wow” that girl looks like younger Nina Hagen! Very interesting blog that guy’s got!
    PS…some day Sophia will be telling all of her friends what an incredible dad she has….maybe she does already

  5. gary Says:

    Holy cats you know how to make a bowl!
    Whatta story about your dad. Wow. And he didn’t have a chance to meet the BUG either.

  6. kyle Says:

    Jim, this is the first time I have actually commented on your blog…Ive been a lurker for a good long time and always enjoy reading your posts to see what you and your little helper are up to…really love the picture of your Dad in this post and your right, it sheds a little light on that part of our fathers that we hardly get a chance to know…the Dad that goes off every morning to some unimaginable place and does god knows what during the day…Anyways, I try hard to be a good Dad for my little girl. I also want to say thanks for tuning into my own blog so often…always appreciate your comments. I will try and stop being “just” a lurker.

  7. Michael Mahan Says:


    Nice post about your dad. My father died too early as well at 60, ten years away for me.

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