Wednesday, 13 September 2017

#52Stories, Week 36, Fathers' Day

Dad was born in Hamilton. An inland town fast becoming a city. With a lake and a river running through the centre to separate it, east from west.

His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins from both sides of the family all lived relatively close. If not in Hamilton, in smaller rural towns or on farms in the Waikato area.

He helped build our house, working with the builder after work and at weekends. He and Mum were a great wallpapering team, transforming rooms. Dad is very precise and has a strong attention to detail, so pattern matching was thorough and always perfect. Symmetry is key.

Dad went to computer programming classes at night school. Back when computers were so large they filled a room, and you had to feed punch cards into them which contained coded messages hidden in the binary numbers row upon row. Who knew that would catch on ?

He built a stereo too, importing all the little bits (fuses, valves and little transistory circuit things) to solder together in the right order and places. Speakers too, including building the speaker boxes.

There was always a good vege garden to be cared for and lots of lawn to mow. A little less once the double garage was built in place of the old toolshed and lean-to.

Dad liked gem collecting too and many holidays and weekends we went searching for rocks. He always talked about wanting to be able to polish them smooth, but that didn’t eventuate. I think this fascination with rock must be in his blood – passed down from those first settlers who went goldmining in the Coromandel.

Dad was also a stamp collector, we used to help with this. Carefully tearing the stamps from the corner of the envelopes and soaking them with water so that the stamp could be separated from the envelope and then leaving them to dry face down – ready to go in to an album.

He also loves astronomy – not astrology. I remember watching the moon landing on the tv early one morning. It seemed incomprehensible that people were actually in space, on the moon. Now they stay for months at a time in the International Space Station and fly over us at least once a day ! Dad started to build his own telescope, something that began with a thick chunk of glass cut in a circle, which needed to be ground to become concave. That seemed like a neverending task to me. Planetarium meetings and running sessions for the public kept him busy too. Committee meetings negotiating for premises in Harris Street and then starting again when the council decided to expand the library and carpark and take back the building and land. That move took them to the top of the cable car in the Botanic Gardens, where the Planetarium is still located.

Later, much like the stereo, he and some friends began to build their own home computers. The Commodore 64 came along though, and the home made version went on the back burner.

Dad was always calm and didn’t seem to lose his temper very often, he likes to do crosswords and read. These days Suduko have become a favourite pastime as well.

Genealogy is still an interest today. Search methods have changed from the way they were though, so much is available online. Although you can still go and search old and original records, not so much time is spent in library reading rooms anymore.

He’s a great story teller too, he would read to us at night – a chapter or two from whatever was the current novel we were reading. Or he would tell stories about when he was little and the adventures they would get up to. The eclipse of the sun, finding the teeny rabbit by the railway tracks, so small he fit in a tea cup and more.

As a grandfather too, he would read stories, putting on voices for each character in Goodnight Owl and the BFG – among others.

He’s a great Dad ! All wired up and techy; emailing, texting, whatsapping, skyping - you name it. I hope we are as on to it and willing to try new things too.

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