Nov 4, 2014

Retro TV and Movie Dads with familiar personalities

I'm one of those folks who was fortunate enough to be a child of the 70s and 80s.  I was born towards the beginning of 1970, so I pretty much rode out 90% of  those two decades as a kid.  Now that I'm a father of three, I realize that most dads were a bit more rigid and less emotionally available to their sons back in those eras.  A lot of Dads believed in exercising what some might call "tough love" and saw no use for warm and tender emotional displays.

Whether you agree with that type of parenting or not, you've got to admit that these types of fatherly characteristics can make for some unbelievably funny anecdotes, especially in television and the movies.  That being said, I'd like to talk about three retro TV Dads who remind me a lot of several fathers I knew back in the 70s and 80s.
Jack Arnold - The Wonder Years
This guy is the epitome of most 70s dads I knew.  These were hardened men that had either been to war, or worked unbelievably hard to squeak out a modest living.  These were the kinds of dads that could strike the fear of God into you with a simple glance.

There were no entitlements with these types of working class dads, and it was their way or the highway.  I'm not going to say that the boys back in this decade never got into trouble, but with fathers like this, a lot of us never got too far off of the straight and narrow path.  Many of us kids didn't push the limits, for fear of what our fathers would do!  

This forty-six second clip will pretty much give you a feel of what a lot of conversations between father and son were like for me and a lot of my buddies back in the day..

The old man - "A Christmas Story"

Darren McGavin did an exceptional job portraying this character.  Ironically, now that I'm a father... I can see similarities between The Old Man and I!  We both get a wild look in our eye when mom is cooking a turkey, we both time ourselves to see how fast we can change a flat tire, and we both love seeing our kids squirm before bestowing the perfect gift upon them.

While he isn't as cold and guarded as Jack Arnold.. he was still a stern father who was set in his ways.  While it may have seemed that he lived to complain about the furnace, car, and fuse box that were constantly on the fritz, he attacked problems full force.  He was a resilient man who could tackle any obstacle that came his way.

Ed Goodson - S#*! my Dad says

This Dad from this short lived television series that William Shatner played, is definitely old school.  Ed is a retired,  cantankerous, 72 year old military physician, who's been divorced three times.  He reminds me of many old school dads who shun technology like high speed internet access, cable television, and CD's.

He's a throwback Dad with old fashioned views, who often blurts out politically incorrect statements and rants without notice.  He shows more outward affection for his garden than to his sons, but makes gestures and does things for them that vaguely display his love for them.  The poor guy is the product of an era where men were taught not to show emotion, which can actually be pretty funny in this day and age.  I laugh when I watch this show, because I remember many of my friends Dad's and grandfathers "going off" like Ed on a regular basis.

Some of the snide remarks and observations Ed blurted out on the series, made my wife laugh out loud.. and with good reason.  She usually turns to me and says "That sounds like something you'd say!"   What can I say?  It's in my blood, I've got retro tendencies!  I'm a retro type of guy who was raised by a retro type of Dad.  I do however show outward affection to my kiddo's, and am glad this is one way I'm not too overly retro.

I can't count how many times I'd be over at a friends house after school when their fathers came home after work.  It seemed that a lot of us tiptoed around our dads at times.  The first image that comes to mind when thinking of a retro dad from my childhood, is a guy coming home, grabbing a beer out of the fridge, and sitting in his easy chair with his head buried in the newspaper until dinner.  Now I realize this is an incredible generalization, but most (not all) of the working class dads I was acquainted with, sure fit the bill of at least one.. if not all three of the aforementioned dads!

One things for sure, fathers can make for some interesting stories to share with friends, siblings, and family members.  Heck, I'm sure my kids will be laughing about some of my retro quirks for many years to come.

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