Pat's View: Father’s Day Photos

By Pat Cashman

Father’s Day is coming up this week---and so is my dad’s 95th birthday. I sure wish he was here to celebrate both occasions---but he’s been gone for thirty years. He was always my “old man” even though he never actually became one.

Digging through a bunch of photos the other day, I came across one from Father’s Day, 1964. I was startled. It was a photo of our entire family: My four brothers, our mom---and me dutifully facing the camera, posing in a conventional manner.

Except for Dad. He is facing backwards. Why? Maybe he thought the camera was located behind him. Or perhaps he was trying to demonstrate his love of the past. Or maybe he was showing off a new haircut. My guess? He did it because it looked funny.

The photo startled me because for all these years, I thought I was the one in our family who invented weird photo posing. But as I looked through other old pictures, I realized that shticky stuff was a regular part of my pop’s style.
There‘s one of him from a charity golf tournament standing with three other guys in his foursome---each of them holding golf clubs. Except for you-know-who. He’s holding the sand-trap rake.

In another, he’s clutching one of those gadgets for retrieving golf balls from water hazards. In yet another, he’s positioned himself in such a way that his face---and only his---is blocked by an overhanging tree limb.

The more I looked at the old snapshots, the more I got a real glimpse of the man who was my father---or claimed to be.

He was a big bear of a man (maybe that explained his love for honey and salmon) who stood 6’ 6” in his stocking feet. (Unless he was wearing stocking-lifts and we didn’t know it.) Being so tall, he encouraged photo takers to purposely frame their shots so his head would be cropped out. That’s why there are so many photos of his neck.

Leafing through his school yearbooks, I discovered the penchant for photographic mischief started long ago. He’s always seen in the back row of group scenes---but even then was likely standing on tip toe to look even taller. Or occasionally, he can be seen purposely closing one eye---or looking skyward instead of the lense---anything to look incongruous. In one group pose, he is leaning to his right side---as if gravity affected him differently than everyone else.

A cousin remembers the elder Cashman didn’t just restrict his whimsy to photo ops. One time, some school kids were walking by the clothing store he owned. Suddenly, he came bolting out the entrance and handed them a toaster.

“The bank closes in five minutes,” he said to them. “Take this down there as fast as you can! Tell them they can keep it if they’ll open an account for you.” The boys, unquestioning, grabbed the appliance and sprinted to the bank.

It would be incorrect to say that my dad was never serious. He was a smart and respected businessman, and active in community organizations and charities. But he also seemed to have an instinct for whimsy---and making people happy.

I remember strolling around our small town with him and watching the smiles spread across the faces of people as we approached. He always had a ready grin, a new joke or a funny observation: “Maybe I’m seeing things, but wasn’t that traffic light red just a moment ago?”

I noticed that he mostly focused on people who were elderly, infirmed---or just lonely. They needed a laugh---and he would dole them out. As I think about it, that’s not a bad legacy.

On vacation a couple of years ago, my wife and I saw a small sign along a hiking trail that read: “AREA CLOSED BEHIND THIS SIGN.” So naturally I had her take a photo of me leaning around the sign to take a look.

I thought that was a knee-slapper non-pareil---until I found it was easily topped by another old snapshot of my dad. It was labeled on the back: “County fair, 1967.” It shows my patriarch from the waist up, standing alongside one of those measurement signs at the entrance of an amusement ride: “YOU MUST BE AT LEAST THIS (4’ 8”) TALL TO RIDE.”

He, of course, was squatting from the waist down---thus appearing to be just a bewildering quarter-inch too short to qualify. To sell the pose even further, his face was contorted into a look of crushing disappointment---and tears.

That’s not just an old photo. That’s a portrait of a master at work.

pat@patcashman.com
Pat was a longtime cast member and writer on KING 5’s Almost Live, was the announcer on Disney’s Bill Nye the Science Guy, hosted several radio shows---and worked as a human cannonball. He was fired from all of those positions. He is also a keynote speaker---and a fundraiser auctioneer. His weekly on-line talk show is: Peculiarpodcast.com

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