In an earlier blog I wrote the word, “Septober.” That’s September or is it October? A statement and a question all at once. My father intentionally played with words, using them incorrectly but cleverly or manufacturing new words perfectly suited to a situation from pieces of other usually real words. Dad wasn’t averse to creating an entirely new word from nonsense, but I suspect in reflection it was more that he knew among other things, more Latin than he let anyone know.
Too, Dad spoke Polish. I speak little enough Polish to understand the syntax and thus what syllabic fragments mean or infer. Suspicions roll around in my archives of analysis that Dad applied his microscopic welder’s skills to speech – taking odd pieces of different metals and making them unnaturally fuse into one meaningful, serviceable piece no one would ever naturally expect as a metalwork. As a wordsmith, whether that took pieces of Latin, Polish, or English, or dove deep into his surprising understanding of Classical authors, he made what he needed at the moment.
There are a few other instances that come to mind of Dad’s wordsmithery, more when I’ve had a second glass of wine or a good double Irish or a long pull on a good Bourbon. Dad was a wordsmith of the first water. There are times I wish I’d paid closer attention. Other times, I’m convinced it’s best I not remember specific instances lest I run the risk of plagiarizing my own father. It is fortunate I paid enough attention that my mind works at times the way his did. Or I am unfortunate. There will be no final verdict there.
Pop was a visual artist as well. If you have browsed much of my site, you’ve seen his work. He could also draw the absurd, illustrations to at least equal Suess, Sendak, or any of the best D&D1 artists. He was at his best combining his wordsmithing and his art. He could do realism. He carved2 nature scenes the likes of which I’ve seen only rarely elsewhere. That meant he first had to at least pencil in what he expected a piece of wood to say when he was finished.
Taking it a step further, he could borrow from his art and words to entertain and scare the pants off children from the ages of three to eighty narrating stories on the fly. He’d have been the penultimate campfire ghoul storyteller. That was, though he loved entertaining children with art and words, something he had little time for as a profession.
Pop was of a generation like no other. A lot of what men and women of that generation did was because there was no choice. Either you did it, or it did not get done. ‘Not getting it done’ often had dire consequences.
That is the legacy my father left me. I’m still working on my practice of the written art. I fall woefully short on the visual art. Struggling to find an artist to illustrate a children’s book I have written; I am impressed I must learn to draw to get what I want. It will not be easy. While there are no dire consequences, I hope I have the gumption to pull it off.
Yes. Dad has been gone awhile.
From wherever, Pop, chuckle a little over my struggle and if you can, inspire.
1 D&D: Dungeons and Dragons. Not Drunk & disorderly. Often while admiring the works of Dungeons and Dragons illustrators, though I’ve never played or care to be an aficionado, I’ve surmised these people had to be under the influence of something unnatural, or something naturally mind-altering. Let us debate “mind altering” as opposed to “mind expanding” at some later date. When we can invite the likes of Freud, Hawking, Sagan, Rodenberry, Asimov, Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Dante to attend and opine.
2 Difficult enough to draw, imagine coaxing a piece of oak, maple, myrtle, or walnut to let an image escape from grain patterns in no way related to the resulting scene.