Father’s Stories

Jason and Pop Pop 001 (2)

My father had a heart attack in 1975, when he was 65 years old. He recovered and lived for five more years. After he recovered, I realized if I wanted to find out about his life, I needed to ask him now. I took my cassette recorder and sat down with him asking him to tell me about his childhood. The tape ran for almost an hour as we talked back and forth. I took the tape home and put it in my file drawer. I did not know when I would get it out and listen to it again.

Forty years later, I decided to write a biographical fiction book about my grandfather who came to this country when he was six years old. He was a most interesting man who was a concrete mason in Central Pennsylvania. One of his hobbies was catching and breeding skunks! He operated on them and took out their stink glands, selling them as pets and also selling the hides. It was during my writing of his story that I remembered my father’s interview tape. It was most helpful in adding depth to the story.

Most young folks are too preoccupied to think about asking parents or grandparents to tell them their stories. Sadly, most of the stories die with them when they are gone. I urge you to ask your questions while you can. Your fathers and mothers will not always be around.

Father’s Day stories

Lifetime of memories shared

Ask them while you can


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

You can read my grandfather’s biographical fiction here:

The Big Choices in Life

Choices made change our life forever. In 1936, my father was a young school teacher in a farming valley of Central Pennsylvania. He had just married my mom, his sweetheart, who lived on the farm across the road from his home. It was at that time that he was asked to consider leaving his teaching job and becoming the pastor of a country church in a small coal town of Southwestern Pennsylvania four hours away. It was a big decision for them to make, especially since my mom was pregnant at the time with my older brother.

After praying for direction and talking to their families they decided to accept what they felt was God’s call for their life. His family was supportive of the move, but her father was not happy that he was taking his oldest daughter to the coal fields of western Pennsylvania. In spite of this they decided to make the move in the spring of 1937. The move changed all of our lives forever. Together they raised five children, and he was pastor of the church there for thirty-one years. They were an example that shaped our lives and perspectives for which I am grateful.

On this Father’s Day, I think back over what I learned from both my father and my mother. It is not so much what they said, but who they were, their love for each other, and for others that left the lasting impressions on all of us children.

A paradigm shift

Teacher to pastor servant

Changed lives forever

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Father’s Day 2021

Our Sad Farewell

We buried my father, 29 years ago today, at the young age of 70! Next month I will turn 74. The years have moved on, and now I have out lived my father. He will always have a place in my heart, as memories of my life with him wander in and out of my consciousness. I am like him in so many ways. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the saying goes.

Pop’s weak heart gave out

We celebrated through tears

Lift your glad voices”

In Triumph on High”

His gain…Our loss


Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Father’s Day

IMG_6289 POP (2).jpg

Father’s day always brings memories of my dad, who I always referred to as Pop! He was a caring and compassionate person who showed love not only to his family, but to everyone he met. He died at the age of seventy, back before heart bypass surgery was happening. Although it has been so many years, I still miss him.

Father, Dad, or Pop…
A wonderful man to me
Agape Love shown


Photo: Dwight L. Roth



Still Missing Him


My father died at the young age of seventy. It doesn’t seem that old, now that I am seventy-one! Although he has been gone 36 years his memory is still fresh in my mind. His outgoing personality helped him create a wide network of lasting friends. When I was growing up, we always called him Pop. As I think back on this Father’s Day, I still miss him.

Still Missing Him

I still miss my pop
Now, thirty-six years later
Outliving him by a year
I still miss his warm smile
Encouraging me to do my best

I still miss my pop
Seems like yesterday he was here
Enjoying life and love
Reaching out to everyone he met
Welcoming them into his life

I still miss my pop
Sensitive and caring
Loving husband to my mom
Proud grandpa to my boys
He loved watching them grow

I still miss my pop
Wish he could see all that I’ve done
Knowing he would love it
Hearing him exclaim in affirmation
Knowing that he still lives in me


Photo: Dwight L. Roth


Things I Miss From Childhood

Masontown, PA circa 1949 001

On Sunday I heard Billy Collins reading one of his poems on the Prairie Home Companion radio show. I love his poetry and also enjoy listening to him read his poems.  As I am finishing my Childhood Details Collection, I thought a poem like his would fit in really well. So here is my “Billy Collins version”  of my childhood memories.  Some of the things mentions are pulled from other poems I have written earlier, so I hope you will bear with me.  It really works best when read aloud. It helps feel the flow and rhythm of this free verse poem.

Things I Miss From Childhood  (Childhood Details Collection)

Now that I am almost ready for my second

I think back on my childhood with fond memory

I miss sitting on my mom’s knee while she talked on the phone

Hoping no one was listening in on the party line as we rocked

I miss running barefoot in the summer through trails in the woods

Resulting in poison ivy rashes and pink calamine lotion

Hoping to dry up the bubbles that grew on my ankles and toes

I miss the long high stair case with its heavy rail and balusters

Fun to slide on but no fun to tumble down

I miss watching my mom and sister wash clothes in the cellar

Sitting on the basement steps watching the suds

As the clothes were put through the ringer

Soap squeezed out running back into the washer

The cool dank smell of the dark stone basement

Mixed with the stale smell of coal dust and ashes

From the furnace room around the corner

Rows of canned fruit in Mason jars sitting on old wooden planks

Preserved for many winter meals and Sunday chicken dinners

I miss the way Mom tucked me in on cold Pennsylvania nights

Covering me with a heavy quilt she made and knotted

Sleeping in the old iron bed that once belonged to my brother Nelson

It became mine when he left home to go to college

A hot clanking radiator on the wall next to the window

Cooled down till morning as the coal fire burned low

I miss the rides with my pop in our old green 54 Chevy

Feeling the power glide shifting underneath us

The cleaning of whitewall tires with little round pads

Steel wool and soap from a yellow box that read Comet S.O.S

I miss the clothes hanging on the line in the bright morning sunshine

The wicker basket piled high the pin bag sliding down the line

Little wooden soldiers waiting to stand attention all in a row

The long wooden clothes prop pushing up the sagging middle

A sweeping line of towels and sheets extending on an on

Osmosis of water and cotton absorbing the sweet smell of freshness

Unmatched by softeners or dryer sheets shrinking hot clothes dry

I miss gathering eggs upstairs in the chicken house

Feeling the nest of straw prickling against my fingers

Contrasting against the smooth hard shells of perfect eggs

Baskets full of eggs hand washed and boxed for selling

Saving the cracks for us to eat never once thinking of salmonella

I miss watching Pop popping corn on the blue flames of our gas stove

In the old cast iron skillet with a special lid full of holes

Steam squeezing through the holes as the corn popped loudly

I miss the dirt road in front of our house

Where I used to ride my bicycle sailing down the hill

With the siren chain pulled tight against the wheel

Screaming past our front door all the way down past the mailboxes

I miss the spinning wheel that held all the mailboxes

One for each neighbor spinning on top of a big iron pipe

Saving our mail man a trip back the long dusty road

I miss sleeping with my head on my mom’s lap on Sunday evenings

Lying on the old hard oak benches at church as the wall clock ticked

Carried home when the service ended and talking was done

Put straight to bed knowing nothing till the morning

I miss the big white house with two chimneys and German siding

That I painted with Dutch Boy paint one summer when I was eightteen

I miss climbing the Butternut tree that grew tall

Getting bigger each year just like me

I miss climbing the Red Delicious apple tree along the road

Lodged in its fork biting into ripe delicious fruit in the fall

Wiping sweet juice running down my chin on my shirt sleeve

Of the many things I miss from my childhood these are only a few

And…As I enter the beginning of the second they say

These memories are the last to go


Photo of my childhood home in 1949 from our family album

( The round spinning mailbox post had not yet been put up.)



A Father Who Cared

Dwight & Pop

My father was a person who cared deeply about others. He was a minister, husband, and family man. He has been gone since 1982, but his memory is still fresh in my mind. When I was young, I had difficulty reading so he brought me Illustrated Classics to read, hoping it would encourage me to read more. He was a good listener who listened to me go on and on. He had little response that I can recall, but somehow I felt he cared about what I was saying. I loved working side by side with him in the garden, cleaning the chicken house, and delivering eggs to customers.  He had a heart of love for the people he served and that core value has been engrained in the person I have become. I am very thankful for my father who cared, a Godly man who never new a stranger.

A Father who Cared

My father a flower blooming

in the cracked sidewalk of humanity

Servant and Shepherd

Bringing comfort and joy to others

Minister of God’s mercy to the poor

To all who listened and heard

He brought the Light of salvation

A friend to all

A sacrifice of love on the altar of Grace

Husband Father and Friend

Always ready to listen

Ready to help in my time of need

Encouraging me to do my best

His life touched the hearts of many

He knew the importance of kindness


Every act of kindness is a flower blooming

in the cracked sidewalk of humanity

Be that flower… show kindness today

Photo: from the family album


My Pop

Pop Digging Potaotes 001

If my father were living today he would be 105. This post is a tribute to him and the life he enjoyed. We children all called him Pop. He loved people and never knew a stranger. One of his favorite things was working in the garden. This photo shows him helping me dig my potatoes back in the early 1970. He died at the age of seventy. That seems very early to me, especially since I will turn seventy next month. He was a joy to all who knew him. He always tried to encourage and inspire others. He was a minister and pastor almost all of his life. We all miss him greatly. He has not been forgotten!

Photo:  Dwight L. Roth