Daddies Dearest

Father's day tribute breaks the Hallmark mold

H.J. Cummins' work/life column in today's Star Tribune is a short, sweet ode to the influence our fathers have on our career choices. This one actually broke me up, especially the bit about Ray Wells Jr., who, Cummins reports, "was 18 and a Golden Gloves boxer when his daughter, Tene, was born."

As far back as she can remember, Tene Wells had regular Saturday outings with her dad. Her mother put her in a dress and sent the two of them out, to leave her to clean the house in peace.

They would go where the men go, to bars and pool halls. Tene remembers feeling the men's respect for her father, which only later she learned had to do with his boxing, his strong sense of responsibility, and his speaking out for civil rights.

The column had me revisiting a couple of CP's greatest fatherhood stories: Britt Robson's grittily honest examination of his and his father's masculine bond; and Peter Scholtes' awesomely tender writings about his father, a priest who was active in the civil rights movement in Chicago. They're both poignant reads, well worth revisiting this weekend.

My own Dad? He's not nearly the cynic I am. Quite the opposite, he encouraged my brother and I to embrace our square-peg tendencies and to leap on even the most unconventional opportunities. And I dare say the impact of the early part of his career as a professor of sociology (he's no longer an academic) is evident in these pages.