Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 20, 1976 · Page 50
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 50

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 20, 1976
Page 50
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The old story goes that a son at 18 is amazed at how dumb his father is, and at 23 is equally amazed at how much father has learned in five years. Fathers, all shapes, sizes and temperaments, mold our lives far more than we realize. Here, some famous Americans remember the guy Father's Day is all about. Famous Recall Their Fathers In myriad ways do we remember Dad. To Sen. Hubert Humphrey, he was more than a father, "he was my best friend." To playwright Arthur Miller, he was best remembered "for his endurance and affection in hard times.'' To Arthur Ashe, he is "one of the greatest success stories." To actor Robert Young, he was "very remote and distant and aloof," but dedicated to his family nonetheless. To Sen. John Glenn, "he was a curious man," full of questions, always asking if there was a better way. To actress Mary Tyler Moore, "he's a very disciplined individual and very true to his principles," and he yielded those lessons in life to her. »· SO DO AMERICANS, this Sunday, celebrate their fathers, and measure the gentle against the gruff, the joy of childhood against the pain of growing up, the harsh study of pride and duty against the lost ·freedoms of youth, and finally that one man's presence, however warm, however cool, against his inevitable and final absence. "One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters," an old poet said. And when he teaches, the blackboard is life. When we're stumped, he offers a panoply of choices that ultimately leave no choice. Self-discipline, honesty, self- esteem are not birthrights. They are learned, and father is often the teacher. He is the exacting judge of a lawn well- mown, a school paper carefully written, a By John Harbour The Associated Press skirt too short, nights out too late. He is not always right. But he may as well be. He teaches toughness and tenderness, courage and caution. Mother presides at our birth. Fatherhood is less distinct, a suit of clothes every man wears differently. But from the first squall of his firstborn, father is set in the economic traces with endless miles to go before he sleeps. · IN TERMS of appreciation, Mother's Day came first, proposed in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe, established in 1914. Father's Day was proposed in 1910 by Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane, Wash., as a tribute to her father who raised six motherless children. Now in a Spokane nursing home, she lived to see it declared a national holiday in 1972. In the dictionary, father falls somewhere between "fat head" and "fatigue." which sort of sums up the ways his children often see him. Sometimes it takes mother to put father in perspective. In Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. "Death of a Salesman," it is Willy Loman's wife who admonishes his brutish sons, "Attention must be paid to this man." But Miller's father was no Willy Loman. He was a clothing manufacturer and Miller marvels even now over his "never- ending attempt" to uphold the dignity of the family when things were tough in the Depression pose his giving me my own head as to what I wanted to do, even though he couldn't understand it. And taking on faith that I John Glenn Sr. With Son Day Named Mercury Astronaut knew what I was doing. Which was a big mistake. "But, I guess, some of that faith rubbed off." Robert Young, whose paternal roles in "Father Knows Best," and "Marcus Welby, M.D.," set a fatherly ideal sometimes impossible to meet, often found himself reacting onstage to the memory of his father. »· "HE WAS an immigrant from Ireland. He came over when he was 16 years old and started out as a journeyman carpenter and built up to contractor. And where I never got to know him closely and well, he left more of a mark on me than I realized. "I tried, in a sense, to be more open with my own children, having the experience of being cut off from my own father. It was an effort to demonstrate to them my feelings which, I felt, my father had toward me, but, perhaps because of some strong reticence, maybe even embarrassment, he wasn't able to demonstrate.'' "Because there was a lot of dad in me," his role in "Father Knows Best" was affected. 'There was a severe military strain in his demeanor, a great forbidding tone in his voice. "So I kind of leaned over backward to avoid that. I tried to make my voice kinder. An alarm system in me said, 'No, that's too much like your dad, don't do that.' Not that I was ashamed of him. but that forbidding figure was something I tried to avoid. I tried to emulate something that was softer and more loving, that I thought was more like a father should be." He learned later from his mother that his father had likely been brutalized by his own father, and life had been hard. "He wasn't a person who liked to romp or play. He worked hard, was very dedicated, very conscientious about his family." »- LIFE WAS NOT easy on the North Carolina farm where Jim "Catfish" Hunter grew up, either. The rules were cletr and justice was direct. So, if the New York Yankees' "?3.5 Million Dollar Man" doesn't paddle his own kids, his father was not so constrained.' . "If he told us something, he meant it. And if we didn't do it, he spanked us right then," Catfish remembers. Catfish didn't think so at first, but later he reasoned that the spankings meant his father cared. His father farmed in summer, worked the log woods in winter. But he always found time for his sons. Work came first on the farm, but afterwards: "When I played baseball, or sports, or anything, he was always there, encouraging us to play hard to win and everything. He always took me to the American Legion ball games, and if it hadn't been for him, I don't guess I'd have been in baseball." For three years, his father drove 70 miles every other night to take his son to join the American Legion team he played with, and more miles to "away" games. "Then we'd get back home, some mornings 'bout five o'clock, and start to get to bed, and he'd say, 'no, we gotta go to work now. We arleady done the playin', now we got to work.'" Work or play. When young Hubert Humphrey was a sub on his high school basketball team and working in his father's Huron. S.D., drugstore as well, he had to face that conflict too. One night, the store had to be stocked, and there was a game. "Dad said, "Well, son, you've got to make a choice sometimes between what Arthur Ashe Sr. and Son Share Proud Moment On Day of Triumph at Forest Hills in 19B8. your work is and what your pleasures are,' " he recalls. "I guess today my wife feels sometimes that I've been over-indoctrinated in work, which is what, in a very real sense, he gave to me." *· HIS FATHER was everything, from businessman to mayor, from Sunday School teacher to state legislator. "Yet he took time with me when I was a boy and he counseled me when I was older. And he took a great deal of interest in everything I tried to do." "He got me to do things by just expecting that I would do them, and do them well," the senator remembers. "My greatest fear in life was that I would disappoint him. I don't know how he worked it. I've never been able to." His father loved music and poetry, traveled to hear symphony or opera, even bought local radio time in the town of 10,000 to broadcast poetry and classical musical night. He remembers telling him once "Dad, folks out there, I don't Ihink they're all lhal inleresled." And his father answered, "Well, it s my money. I'm buying the time, and maybe we'll get somebody interested." The Humphrey home was full of books, visitors and lively arguments. The younger Humphreys were not enjoined from entering the dinner table debates, even when a U. S. senator was the guest. "My poor mother," he remembers now. "I've often wondered how she put up with this. She was a marvelous housekeeper and a good cook, and I don't think we even knew what we were eating sometimes, we'd be so damned involved in conversation." Her special place in the family was defended promptly by father. "Any little expressions of profanity around mother and he would come right over on you and say, 'Look, buddy, you're not going to abuse your mother and you're going to respect her. She's my wife and she's my sweetheart. She just happens to be your mother. I insist you apologize and shape up." Once when he railed at his mother, his father intervened and asked him if he was unhappy in his mother's home. "If you're going to talk that way, it's time for you to get a new room," he said. Modern psychologists warn against shaking a child's sense of security. But a tree learns to live with the wind. aiail L.T. Anderson Rev. Moon, Wise Up The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, whose success in the evangelism trade must have some of our native Bible-thumpers drooling with admiration, denies that his religious activities are tied to the South Korean government s activities. From what I have seen of Mr. Moon s activities, I am left to wonder if they are tied to religion. There is a religious connection, of course, but some of his young disciples, or Moonies, do their utmost to conceal it. I speak from first-hand experience. On two occasions I was approached on Charleston streets by Mr. Moon's young flower salespersons. On both occasions I asked the young people to tell me the ultimate destination of my money in the event I were to buy a flower. On both occasions I got evasions. WHY WOULD zealots be reluctant to tell me of the good works my contribution would purchase? I don't know. Maybe they had been instructed to resort to mild fakery in the interest of selling more flowers. Such a practice isn't unknown to religion. Jesuits hold that the end justifies the means. If Moonies believe they can sell more flowers by concealing their connection with Mr. Moon's Unification Church, they apparently recognize that Mr. Moon's church isn't as popular in these parts as it is elsewhere. I think they are right. For years I have watched West Virginians fling their money at roving evangelists, but I saw only indifference when the Moonies put on their one big show here. Admittedly the weather was bad when they staged their pageant at Capitol and Lee streets a year or so ago. Even so, you'd think more than four people would stop, if only to inquire as to what was going on. EXACTLY FOUR stopped. I was there and I counted. They eyed with a kind of amiable curosity the grim young Moonies, who were dressed in colonial costume and were standing beneath a banner which asked support for Richard Nixon. Actually there were nine onlookers, but five were newspaper and television people. If the Rev. Sun Myung Moon cannot sell his flowers except through subterfuge, and if nobody will stop to look at richly-costumed Moonies in a patriotic pageant, it may be that the people of West Virginia are once more in need of a spiritual awakening. Mr. Moon ought to wise up. What he fails to understand about West Virginians is that they are revival freaks. He should engage the Civic Center for some protracted sin-busting, and forget about Richard Nixon and street- corner pageants. A Korean evangelist using an interpreter would be a boffo act, maybe better than Rollo the Boy Preacher. TENNIS STAR Arthur Ashe watched his father build a seven-room house with his own hands. Consequently, he was not beholden to banks. "He's always been very self-sufficient." Hired in the late 1940s as one of the first black policemen in Richmond. Va.. the elder Ashe retired last year to pursue the things he loves, hunting and fishing, and watching his son play tennis. "He believed in education at all costs for me and my brother," Ashe remembers. "There were always plenty of books around the house, although he could barely read or write. He recognized the value of them. He always believed that hard work would pay off in the end. He was never bitter. He taught us self respect, and respect for our fellow man. And the way he taught us was we saw him doing it. He always taught by example, as hard as life was. In my house there wasn't any liquor or cigarettes, not that he cared if others drank or smoked." When Ashe's mother died when he was six, his father took over both roles until he remarried five years later. And today when the elder Ashe comes to seu his son play in tournaments, inevitably. Ashe says, someone will come up to him and say, "Gee, you've got the greatest father." And Ashe will smile. ^ ACTRESS MARY Tyler Moore lives not far from her mother and father in Studio City. Calif., but in a sense her father is closer than that. "He was strict," she recalls. "He had very high standards for me. And think, unfortunately, I have inherited that too. In a negative sense. My standards for myself are loo h i g h . Not to the point that it's going to send me to a shrink. But I lend to disappoinl myself more often than 1 am pleased. Thai's just not as much fun. .. "We didn't have an open relationship. Our relationship was rather formal and reserved because he's not demonstrative. There was never a buddy-buddy kind of feeling. "But the love was always there. "I think one of Ihe loveliest Ihings thai my falher did for, and wilh me--and he derived almosl as much joy from il as I did-was he read me all of the Ox books, maybe 30 of them. And those are some of my happiest quietesl memories." John Glenn's falher was a plumber by trade. But he loved lo Iravel and had a strong interesl in educalion. "He was just curious about how you could do things better." his son recalls. "I think that was probably the biggest legacy he gave me." * YOUNG GLENN was encouraged to read, take Irips on his own, even when fairly young. Patriotism and religion were hallmarks of the Glenn home. Both parents were elders in the Presbyterian Church and the elder Glenn was proud of his service in World War I. All Ihose things rubbed off on young John Glenn. A father's interest often underscores what his children do. Arthur Miller's father loved the theater. "He always insisted I tell him the story of whatever I was doing. If I saw a gleam in his eye, I knew I had something. And if I didn't, I knew 1 didn't. If there was any wonder in any of the plays, that's what he loved. "What also confounded him was how I knew I was getting the right count at the Charleston, West Virginia --June 20, 1976 box office. I never could explain thai lo him. Or to myself." Actor J i m m y Stewart's f a t h e r was a B-fool-4, 220-pound Irishman with two conflicting duties on Sunday-tenor at the Presbyterian church in Indian. Pa., and a member of the town's volunteer fire department a block away. Inevitably, the fire siren would scream during the service and Alexander Slewarl would sneak out lo answer the call. ». HIS FATHER'S ambilion was to sing a solo, despile his tendency to lose interesl in the words of the hymn. On the Sunday he got his chance, sure enough he was interrupted by the fire siren. Torn, he answered the fire call. When he returned, the sermon was almost over. The minister tried to continue bul the congrcgalion's attenlion was on the tall Irishman sneaking back into the choir. Finally, he turned and invited Alex Stewart to try again. There was applause, the choir stood and Jimmy Stewarl's falh- er sang his solo. "He forgol Ihe words," Jimmy remembers, "but he gol through it." Later, when his son was a success in Hollywood, Alex Stewart proudly displayed his Oscar in his hardware store window. A father's pride fairly glows in the success and happiness of his children. Bing Crosby's father became known as "Hollywood Harry." and he was a walking public relalions man for his son, ready to take oui a batch of press clippings from his pocket arid show them lo anyone who would look. Harry Crosby's gifl to his son was music, of course. "My earliest remembrance of Dad is him and his mandolin, singing and playing "Keemo-Kimo" or "Old Dan Tucker," Bing says. THE CROSBYS had the only piano in their part of Spokane, Wash., and the first Victor talking machine in town, "the kind with the cylinders instead of discs, and the big horn like a daffodil." "My mother was Ihe disciplinarian," he recalls. "He never spanked anybody . . . She had the tough part, gelling us to study and do what we shruld do." Today. Bing Crosby notes with some sa- lisfaclion that he was able to make his father's later life comfortable. "A lovable, happy man," he remembers. Harry Crosby passed on at 82. Fathers are, unfortunalely, rjjprtal.

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