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Father’s Day Tribute June 19, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in People, Poetry.

Two years ago, the Anna Maria Islander held a Father’s Day Tribute Contest, soliciting favorite stories from readers about their fathers.

Written as a poem, my submission, selected for publication, shares a look at my father’s early life ~ a veteran who grew up in rural Vermont during the Great Depression, dealing with government rationing during World War II.

The poem also touches upon his fraternity initiation, enlistment in the Army, his role of counter-intelligence agent just before the Korean War,  unexpected guests on his honeymoon in Maine, his work on Telstar, and the arrival of his four children and nine grandchildren.

50th Anniversary ~ 2005

In 1928, on a cold February morn, at the home of a Vermont neighbor
Mary Helen Hatch was about to give birth ~ she had definitely gone into labor
Instead of arriving the “usual” way, in a hospital room filled with flowers
My dad arrived on Valentine’s Day, at the home of a Mrs. Bowers

Of his early years, he recalls very little ~ his memories are far between and few
He did watch the rebuilding of Lull Brook Bridge at the tender age of two
Another morning, my dad heard a loud bang while still lying asleep in his bed
Through a window, at 100 yards, his father had shot a noisy crow in the head

One Christmas, my dad looked under the tree, for something he would like
There it was, what he wanted most . . . a brand-new-to-him child’s bike!
Even though it was snowy that winter . . . and the yard was filled with ice
He went outside and learned to ride, after getting dumped off once or twice

For allowing his dad to lance an infection, he was promised a treat at the store
When offered candy, he shook his head, thinking he deserved a little bit more
Instead of candy, he wanted something “big” to reward him for his brave role
Amused by the negotiations, his dad agreed ~ my dad got a new fishing pole!

My dad wanted to help our great nation after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
He volunteered and then trained to become an Air Recognition Officer
After a night shift, at the observation post, riding home in the dark on his bike
He reached down to pet a dog running by and just missed a porcupine’s spike!

During the war, the government rationed supplies of gas, rubber, and meat
Dad raised a calf and two hundred roosters ~ so his family had plenty to eat
Determined to study engineering, dad left home for Northeastern University
Once in Boston, he arranged to stay at, and then pledge, a friend’s fraternity

As a pledge of the frat, Phi Gamma Pi, my dad stoically endured Hell Week
Members shaved his head and beat his butt red, offering a tub of ice for relief
Later that week, my dad got notice to have an Army physical for the draft
The psychiatrist there, looked at his hair, and decided dad must be quite daft

For circled around, the top of his crown, a band of scalp defied explanation
When dad said, “the frat shaved my head,” he received his 1A classification
Assigned to Espionage and Sabotage, dad enjoyed being a Special Agent
Before discharge, he accepted 4 promotions: Corporal to Technical Sergeant

Mom & Dad ~ 4 kids . . . 9 grandkids

After the army and college, he met my mom, and, in 1955, they agreed to wed
They headed to New England as soon as their heartfelt I do‘s had been said
Their honeymoon in Maine delighted . . . until one evening in Baxter State Park
When swarms of mosquitoes, uninvited, decided to join them after dark

Four children arrived in rapid succession . . . the last in nineteen sixty one
Counting heads (two boys and two girls), they decided they were done
While mom fed, clothed, and cared for four kids, dad kept tabs from afar
He was back in Maine most weeks . . . getting ready to launch Project Telstar

During the weeks preceding the launch, my dad worked 14 hours a day
He rented a cottage on a lake in Maine, where his four kids could play
The cabin was a bit rustic, with a woodstove and a primitive outhouse
But it came fully furnished . . . with bats in the belfry and a small mouse

Project Telstar was a success, watched by execs from the Labs and AT&T
My dad supervised the satellite acquisition . . . appearing on live TV
After the launch, he learned that he’d received a prestigious promotion
Working as a department head to end telephone noise, static, and commotion

The years flew by, the children scattered . . . heading out on their own
All four married, and three had kids, so dad’s extended family has grown
The first grandchild arrived in nineteen ninety one ~ a healthy baby boy!
Over the next eight years, eight more grandkids appeared, adding to his joy

The years since dad’s arrival (1928 – present) have flown by in a flash
But that’s okay, it really is . . . because he fit lots of life into that dash

Happy Father’s Day!

Related posts:  An Age Old Question . . . Old AgeThe Case of the Missing ChildFather’s Day Tribute (Positive Parenting) Father’s Day (Mirth & Motivation)


1. kateshrewsday - June 19, 2011

What an amazing life, and an amazing person, Nancy. Thanks for sharing this. (loved hearing about Telstar all over again)

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Thanks, Kate. He’s had an interesting life for sure. The poem I wrote for him on his 80th birthday is 3-4x longer than this. I used his Autobiography as the research and did stanza for every significant topic he covered ~ a band he formed in his teens, travels to South America, Australia, and China, sailing, hiking the Appalachian trail, gardening, photography, etc.

2. Joanne - June 19, 2011

Cheers to you and your Dad…!

Here’s a poem I wrote for my dad back in 1993 ~ I believe. I may have posted in on WeBook once upon a time ~


If I could travel back in time,
I’d like to see my dad;
the trials, tears and fears that formed him,
even the joys he had.
I think I would better appreciate
the man he is today,
although I only know him
in his quietly stubborn way.

If I could travel back in time,
I think that I would see
a boy who only wanted love,
and wanted to be free.
I know he must have been giving
and shy beyond compare,
working hard to earn a living,
yet never too busy to care.

If I could travel back in time,
I know that I would see
a young man by his bedside,
praying on his knees;
praying for a baby’s life
who’d one day grow to be
a woman who would see her dad
more respectfully…

If she could travel back in time
and understand his past,
she’d know that deep within his heart
his love for God would last.
“Faith of Our Fathers” is now my song:
it’s my faith now that’s growing strong,
for as I sit here, in my mind,
I have travelled back in time.

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Wonderful tribute, Joanne!

I always had a pretty decent relationship with my dad . . . when I butted heads, it was usually my mom’s head I ran up against. 😀

3. viviankirkfield - June 19, 2011

Thank you so much Nancy…what a beautiful tribute to your Dad…loved the family photos also! And kudos to you as well, Joanne, your poem touched my heart. As children, we rarely understand why our parents are the way they are…as adults, if we are lucky, we’ve gain an understanding of how life marks us.
Nancy, thanks for the “pingback” 🙂

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

We threw parties for mom and dad on their 25th and their 50th Anniversaries. The first was well attended by friends and relatives outside the immediate family. The last was most just family ~ 19 of us, plus my dad’s extended family.

Here’s to the wonderful dads in our lives! 😀

4. Penny - June 19, 2011

An amazing family Nancy and a wonderful tribute. I miss my father, my memories keeps his spirit alive. Enjoyed reading !

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Thanks, Penny. Memories help us to stay in touch with those who have left the mortal plane ~ keeping them “alive” in our minds. Glad that you have wonderful memories of your father.

5. Tilly Bud - June 19, 2011

A lovely tribute to your Dad, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Thanks, Tilly!

6. clarbojahn - June 19, 2011

I enjoyed reading the poem and the comments. It seems it awakened some good memories of my dad. My Pappa as we called him. He spoke Dutch to us till he died in 2006 at age 89. He was the one to write poems to us! for Sinter Klass, when the Dutch celebrate gift giving instead of at Christmas.

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

That’s wonderful ~ poems for Sinter Klass! Just got off the phone with my dad. He spent the day with my brother’s family and enjoyed the visit. Talked to all four of his kids and was ready to go back to his book. 😀

7. therealsharon - June 19, 2011

What a lovely poem and your dad sounds very impressive! He has lived quite a life! 🙂 Happy Father’s Day to him!

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Thanks, Sharon. He had a good day . . . and a good life. I’m about to swing round to check out your post.

8. theonlycin - June 19, 2011

A special guy, Nancy, I am glad he enjoyed his day. You look a lot like him 🙂

nrhatch - June 19, 2011

Thanks, Cin. He enjoyed a visit with three of his grandchildren (but was happy to get back home to his book). In some photos (like these) I see the family resemblance. In others, not at all. Maybe it depends on my mood. And his. 😉

9. Inspiration: It Only Takes One Smile… | Mirth and Motivation - June 20, 2011

[…] Father’s Day Tribute (nrhatch.wordpress.com) […]

10. viewfromtheside - June 20, 2011

what a lovely tribute, made me long for my dad

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

We’re trying to convince my parents to move down here with us. We’re in “some day” mode . . . and holding. 😀

11. jannatwrites - June 20, 2011

Thanks for sharing the poem you wrote about your dad. It was such a nice tribute to him.

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

Thanks, Janna. Hope your husband had a wonderful Father’s Day ~ filled with FUN . . . with Thing 2 and Thing 1. 😉

12. eof737 - June 20, 2011

How beautiful and engaging and filled with stories of love, labor and espionage… 🙂 Your dad is quite the guy! Happy father’s day to him! 🙂

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

My dad has some interesting stories from his days as a counter intelligence agent ~ including issues with the ship (i.e., the rusty old tub) that transported them to Korea. It SUNK on its return to the states. 😀 .

13. Booksphotographsandartwork - June 20, 2011

That is fabulous! You are so talented. I would love to be able to do the same thing. My dad gives all of us kids and grandkids a book every Christmas that he has written about a particular time of his life starting when he entered the Air Force. I had no idea about any of these things he experienced. I keep saying, where was I? A poem like that would be a nice tribute for him. I really enjoyed yours.

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

Thanks, Linda. I’m sure your dad would love it ~ knowing that you re-read his stories wrote him a poem. Does he have a birthday or anniversary coming up? I wrote the original poem (7 pages long) for my dad’s 80th birthday and distilled it down for the Father’s Day Contest and Tribute.

Writing the poem took several days ~ first, I read my dad’s autobiography and took notes about what I wanted to include. Then I sat with the autobiography open and roughed out the poem. Sometimes the rhyme jumped out at me from the vignette. Other times if required playing around to find a rhyme for each couplet.

It was a FUN project and definitely a labor of love that my dad enjoyed receiving.

14. adeeyoyo - June 20, 2011

Lovely to have such a large and close family, Nancy!

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

It is . . . but it would be even better if we could ALL get together like this at least once or twice a year. Last reuniion with all 19 took place in 2008 ~ 3 years ago. Since then, we’ve been in our “neutral corners” . . . thousands of miles apart ~ staying in touch with phone, e-mail, letters, Facebook, Yahoo groups, and Skype.

15. Tokeloshe - June 20, 2011

Very well done!
Thank you for sharing. Great photos.

nrhatch - June 20, 2011

Thanks, Tok! We had TONS of FUN for my parents 50th Anniversary. Nice to have everyone together for a time.

16. Tammy - June 21, 2011

This was great Nancy both your writing and the photos. I love how you wove the details of his days into poetry. Congratulations on the selection too.

nrhatch - June 21, 2011

Thanks, Tammy! My dad was quite tickled by the poem when I first delivered it to him . . . he also loved having a portion of it appear in the Island newspaper. 😀

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