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Published by Stephen Emerson

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Published by: Stephen Emerson on May 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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When I think about my father and my childhood memories, the exhausting list ofeccentricities brings a refreshing smile to my face.Here are just a few anecdotes that come to mind... I recall the time when we arrived in Italyfor our holidays and I realised I
d forgotten my doll at home, swiftly Dad was busy carvingone out of wood for me and devoutly painting it. It even had articulating arms and legs.His patience for fine detail was admirable which leads me on to the tooth incident... Helost one of his teeth while we were on the island of Panarea, there didn
t seem to be adentist available but this wasn
t a problem for Dad, he simply carved a new one, again outof wood, painted it exactly the same colour as his teeth, he even varnished it then neatlyslotted it into place. You would never have known the difference and his custom madetooth resisted many plates of pasta untill we returned home.Fairly soon after arriving in Spain or Italy it was normal practice to go rummaging arounddumps and dried up river beds searching for interesting objects that could potentially beused in future constructions or sculptures. Old brushes, rusty pots, broken cookingutensils, wooden table legs etc, what was abandoned junk to others was inspiring materialto Dad. I used to love helping him find things and felt honored when he accepted myhumble offerings, I can still hear him say «Oh hey thats a rare thing»!Beach combing was also a favourite pastime, he especially loved old rope, floats anddriftwood. He even found it amusing to discreetly take posession of bits of my toys againstmy consent, I only realised they were missing when I discovered them in another context!Dad never really stopped drawing or making things, even when we were on the beach ifhe wasn
t constructing something, he was building me a dream sandcastle that wouldenchante me for hours. At supper time he would mould little objects out of compressedbread or use the red wax skin from edam cheese and roll it into all sorts of shapes. Often Iwould take these miniatures and add them to the objects in my dollshouse which of coursehad been entirely created and furnished down to the last detail by Dad! There was no endto his imagination.On our way home one summer after a productive holiday in Italy, Dad had meticulouslypacked up his wares, he had made a huge bird out of organic roots and dried palm andbound it up in brown paper and string to protect it in the plane, the only problem was that itstrongly resembled a machine gun in disguise. Proud of his package, he didn
t think twiceabout it untill we were stopped at the customs and he was ordered by very suspiciouslooking officers to unpack the whole thing. I really don
t think they had a clue why Dad wastravelling with such an unusual souvenir but after lengthy heated discussions between theItalian guards with hands flying everywhere we were finally allowed to board the plane.Dad needed his dose of watermelon when we were in Italy, there was the occasion whenwe were driving through Lucca on our way back from the beach one stiflingly hotafternoon, in those days watermelon was sold in slices on ice in little stalls by the side ofthe road, Dad spotted one of these stalls on a busy intersection and insisted we stop thecar, forgetting he was only wearing a pair of swimming trunks he bolted across the roadwith the hope of satisfying this urgent need, only to be whistled down by the Polizia andwarned that «This is Lucca! Not Viareggio!»It wasn
t unusual to find Dad dressed up as a clown or wearing a curiosity from his hatcollection. We had a huge dressing up chest full of costumes that mum and dad hadcreated for their various parties, I used to watch them passionatly prepare for theseevents, no details were omitted. In the 70
s a pair of his white bell bottom jeans shrunk inthe wash and were a couple of inches too short so he glued strips of white curtain tasselsalong the hems, they looked very dapper with his white Italian loafers.Dad was great fun to be with except when you had him in your team while playingPictionary! Usually anyone would
ve jumped at the occasion to have him in their team buthe didn
t quite catch the jist of the game, that you have to draw as quickly as possible foryour team to guess your image. The game was just another excuse for him to draw, he

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