To Dad, With Love

By Judy Berman

With his western cowboy hat tilted at just the right angle, my Dad looked like he’d spent his whole life rounding up cattle and riding horses.

Looks can be deceiving. But the Philadelphia native shared at least one other trait cowboys are known for. He played it close to the vest, not always revealing what he thought.

Like E. F. Hutton, when my Dad spoke, people listened. For good reason. He was knowledgeable, a superb storyteller and easily cracked me up with his jokes – even the corny ones. OK, especially the corny ones.

This year is the first year Dad won’t be with us to celebrate Father’s Day. As I meander down thru Memory Lane, so many thoughts and memories rush to the surface.

Growing up, I thought my Dad could do it all. He was a true Renaissance man.

He made the first radio I owned – a crystal radio set. A memory I treasure because I loved to listen to the music and programs on radio. Dad also made the first TV set we ever owned. Talk about bragging rights.

As an electronics engineer, Dad tinkered with many electronic gadgets at our home long before they became staples in just about everyone’s home.

When he wasn’t building or fixing things, he’d unwind by playing the guitar. I can still recall haunting tunes, upbeat jazz and classical music that he entertained us with.

Dad was the gold standard that I measured all my dates by.

His curiosity was passed down to me. It led me to discover new ideas, new cultures and places.

He also challenged me by giving me riddles to solve. What do you know? What can you infer? What’s going on?

Here’s an example of a riddle he might have posed to me that I found online:

“A man was shot to death in his car. There were no powder marks on his clothing which indicated that the gunman was outside the car. However, all the windows were up and the doors were locked. After a close inspection was made, the only bullet holes discovered were in the man’s body. How was he murdered?” (Answer below)

This meant I had to think outside the box, to look beyond the superficial. I had to deduce. Great life-shaping skills. Sometimes, I succeeded. Other times, Dad had to supply the answer.

Then, I’d do the hand plant on my forehead. Oh! That was so logical. Next time, I’d try harder to figure it out.

That, more than anything, helped guide me in life.

I’d like to be able to tell him: “Thank you, Dad for providing me with love, security and making me think. Thank you for everything you did.”

To all fathers, whether it’s by birth, step, adopted, mentor, Big Brother … Happy Father’s Day on June 17th and on every day.

(** Answer to riddle: The victim was in a convertible. He was shot while the top was down. **)


**  A special thank you to C.J. of Food Stories who nominated me for the Illuminating Blogger Award. Check out her website at  and find many creative ideas for desserts, meals and dining. She quotes Hippocrates: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” She said he knew the power of proper nutrition well before current science became aware of this fact.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Main photo: Dad and me, Nelson, Nevada (2002)

Photo: Dad in U.S. Army (1943)

Photo: Dad (in center) and his classmates in Chicago, Ill.

  1. I love the photo of you and your dad. I’m sorry you won’t be celebrating Father’s Day with him this year, but am glad that you have such wonderful memories. A beautiful post.

  2. Great story Mom. We all have such great memories of Granddad. Thanks for sharing! Love you.

  3. Very nice piece, Judy. I remember your telling me that your father was an electronics engineer, but I didn’t know he was so accomplished.

    Speaking of riddles, I’ve always remembered this one from Robert Benchley, which I’ve edited a bit:

    A man leaves his home in the morning to go to work. An hour later he is found back in his own bed with a nasty scalp wound. His clothes are folded neatly over a chair. He is unable to talk, but a man who is in bed with him, also with a bad scalp wound, says that he doesn’t know who his buddy is, having never seen him before. The police arrest the housekeeper. Why?

    ANSWER: Because she was a notorious counterfeiter.

    1. Thanks, Mark. Yes, my Dad loved to work with his car and electronics equipment. The riddle I was trying to recall that he told me was the one about a trapeze artist who died during her performance. Her estranged husband, the circus bandleader, was charged with her murder. The answer had to do with him being responsible because the trapeze artist depends on the music’s beat in her timing. He had intentionally had the band skip a beat. That caused her to miscalcuate when she leaped from her swing to the oncoming trapeze and she plunged to her death.

  4. Great post … My father only went through the fifth grade but he knew how to do everything and I felt very safe and secure with him around.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your dad, Judy. I had never heard the idiom, “He played it close to the vest,” so I looked it up and learned that it derives from poker — keeping ones cards close to the body, hidden from the other players. Thanks for the many insights in this piece!

    1. That saying. How fitting. Dad lived in Vegas for about 40 years. (By the way, he didn’t gamble.) Thank you for your comments, Lisa. I’m glad you enjoyed my story.

  6. Maybe some of his skills got passed along to me. I love critical thinking problems and thinking outside the box. When we started classes last fall I made the kids pretend they were actually in a box and explain how they felt being trapped inside – limited and constrained. Then I made the kids slowly “climb” out of the box and explain how it felt to be free and unlimited (actually they had to provide the adjectives to describe how they felt).

    It was fun – at least for me, if not anyone else. :o)

    1. What you’re doing with the kids is terrific. It sounds like a great activity – mental and physical – to get your kids (our grands) to “think outside the box.” Those skills will come in handy as they get older. I’m sure they enjoyed it, too.
      No doubt you inherited your critical thinking and math skills from your Granddad, and also your Dad. Certainly not me. I’m the black sheep of the family when it comes to math. As I tell my students, that’s why I teach Language Arts and not math.

  7. What wonderful memories of a “giant” of a man. My father died when I was one…I think I’ve been looking for him ever since. Luckily I’ve had great surrogates, including my hubby. I’m very thankful that he is a wonderful, loving, and supportive dad to our daughter.

    Dads figure large in my perception of life. My lack of one has probably skewed my world. While I don’t fault the omission, I know it’s had a long-lasting effect. And I am sensitive to stories about other folks’ fathers. I cheer those who measure up; I have compassion for those who try…and don’t.

    hugs for sharing…your dad…hugmamma. 😉

    1. Thank you for your kind words, hugmamma. I know that I was very lucky indeed to have had my Dad in my life for 91 years. When I started writing this blog last September, his stories were the ones I started with. He really had a knack for telling a great story.
      I’m sorry that you lost your father when you were still an infant. That can be devastating. Thank goodness for the positive surrogates you’ve met along the way in life.

  8. Can’t believe he put together a tv. Amazing. My dad was not handy, so I always thought engineers, architects, etc. who could make something, were the coolest.

    1. My Dad was great at math, too. Another area I’m deficient in. He made a wooden orange crate soapbox car on roller skates for me to rumble along on the sidewalk. It was always something interesting when I was growing up. Thanks for your comments, Michael.

  9. You will always have memories of your Dad, but also flashes of recognition when you see something that reminds you of something he constructed. He must have been an amazingly clever man.

    I have bought several books about “Thinking outside the box” and most of them depend on logical solutions. So why are they so hard to figure out? I enjoyed the one you wrote: I did not think of a convertible, only of suicide.

    earthrider to morristownmemos: Feb. 10, 2013: My apologies, Ronnie, I just now saw your comment about my Dad. You’re right. So many everyday things remind me of my Dad. Those riddles do get you thinking … and that’s good.

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