When it comes to fathers in popular culture, there’s the good, Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” the bad, Al Bundy on “Married With Children,” and the ugly — Homer Simpson.
And they always, always had advice. Doh!
Fortunately, our readers’ dads gave the best advice — at least based on what those of you who wrote to us had to say.
Sometimes, their words paid off right away. For others, it took years to realize the benefits. In either case, many of you are thankful for wisdom your dads dispensed.
For Bill Pomeroy, it involved education. His dad, Ben, valued it, but in unconventional ways.
Living in Toronto when Bill was a boy, his dad took him on week-long fishing trips to a lake accessible only by seaplane — even though it was during the school year. Bill’s mom
didn’t approve, but Ben Pomeroy felt the adventure had value, too.
Ben Pomeroy died before Bill finished high school in Baton Rouge, but his spirit held sway. Before his senior year of high school ended, Bill had a chance to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but he would miss a week of school. His mom said no.
“I reminded her that dad always told me, ‘Son, don’t ever let school interfere with your education,’” he said. “She didn’t say another word.”
The trip let Pomeroy see sights and meet what turned out to be lifelong friends.
“I have passed this philosophy along to my grandchildren as well, and have encouraged them to consider a gap year as they do throughout many parts of the world and take the opportunity to see new places, make new friends and be exposed to other cultures,” he wrote.
When John Saunders, of New Orleans, enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1967, he followed the footsteps of his dad, a Coast Guard captain. His dad warned him not to follow too closely. Specifically: Don’t volunteer for anything, and seek no family privileges.
Both suggestions paid off in basic training. Those who volunteered were shunned as “brown-nosers” by fellow recruits. When the drill instructor asked recruits if they had any relatives with high governmental or military positions, Saunders kept his mouth shut. Those who didn’t got extra duty.
It was only as boot camp graduation neared that the drill instructor discovered the identity of Saunders’ dad, and demanded an explanation.
“I thought about it and said, ‘Sir, my father is not in Company Charlie 69, I am. … and he told me before I came that what I did here would depend on who I am, not who he is, sir,’” Saunders said.
“Very good advice, and tell him I said so,” the drill instructor said.
Among the bedtime stories Margaret Hawkins heard from her father, Judge Frank Goad, was Aesop’s “The Fox and the Crow,” a warning against putting too much credence in flattery.
At least, it was meant as a warning. For Hawkins, who lives in Ponchatoula, it became a how-to manual when, as a teenager, she met a pushy, judgmental woman while attending a church revival.
“Out of my mouth unbidden it came: ‘Ma’am, I’ve been listening to you sing, and you have a beautiful voice,’” Hawkins said. “She was shocked. Then her expression softened and she began whispering to me how she did love to sing and how she had loved to sing since she was a child. I leaned toward her to listen more closely. Bingo! The cheese had dropped out of the crow’s beak and it fell to the happy fox on the ground. Thanks, Dad!”
Barbara Auten, of Baton Rouge, said the best advice from her father, Arthur Wingerter, boiled down to one word.
“Think!” she said. “He didn’t give me an answer all the time. He said, ‘Think.’ He said, “Accidents don’t happen; they are caused. Think about it.’ He said, ‘Conservation is better for the environment than preservation. Think about that.’
“By encouraging me to think, he spurred both curiosity and reason that led to a successful career and happy life,” she wrote.
Mike Duran, of Metairie, recalls his dad, Richard G. Duran Sr., taking him and his brother to Kansas City to see the New York Yankees play in 1961. The trip was an example of his dad’s philosophy of life.
“He told us more than once — until we stopped using the word altogether — that he had promised himself as a young boy never to ‘wish’ for anything. I still don’t,” Duran said. “He paid for that trip and all the fun we had (with) cash up front. ‘Wish’ I could say the same.”
Stanley W. Kemp’s advice came from example, said Joan Kemp Bringaze.
“To him, the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments were God’s gift and guide to us on how to get along with Him-Her and all people in peace. He imparted this to his wife and three daughters and, I hope, to others,” she said.
Hobart Sullivan’s role in the Navy meant the family moved often. Phyillis S. Stacy began ninth grade at her 11th school, and, he offered her some encouragement.
“He said, ‘I want you to enjoy high school. I’m not asking you to get all As. I just want you to do your best,” Stacy recalled. “Mom and I will be very happy with that.”
Here’s some dad advice from what others recalled:
Patsy Cifreo, of Maringouin, about Leon Militello — “The best advice my dad gave to me and my brothers was to pray every night, help all who are in need and work hard, for work never hurts anyone.”
Bonnie McDaniel, of Baton Rouge, about Gordon T. Barrow Jr. — “Don’t wait for your ship to come in. Row out and meet it.”
Fred Herman, of New Orleans, about Harry Herman — “You will see folks who may be smarter and even tougher, but if you outwork them you will achieve a measure of success. But when people know you are kind, respectful and a person of integrity, you will have achieved ultimate success. Leave this world better than you find it.”
James Douglas Johnson, of Denham Springs, about Leonard Douglas Johnson — “My father once told me never to bet on another man’s trick. That has saved me a few beers over the years, but it also has made me think twice before contesting the knowledge of an expert on a subject.”
Beetle Boudreaux Fisher, of Zachary, about former Zachary High School principal Jerry Boudreaux — “Anybody that had him for a principal would always remember his famous words at the school’s assembly, ‘Ain’t no one gonna love you like your mama and your papa.”
Virginia W. Spedale, of Baton Rouge, about J. Conrad Wilson Sr. — “He always said (of course, he always had ulterior motives) ‘No one can be depressed cutting the grass.’ Throughout my life I have definitely found that manual labor can help one put aside worrisome issues.”
Connie R. Jenkins, of Denham Springs, about Connie R. Reeves — “Never ask the question if you’re not ready for the answer.”
Sharon Maillet, of Metairie, about Byron Earl Dodd — “Never trust someone’s blinker! Sure enough, that SOB will ram right into you and you are at fault! If you want it done right, do it yourself! Always pay your bills on time as soon as they arrive in the mail.”