Hard to believe it’s been 20 years.

My father, Peter Robertson, passed somewhere between April 15 and 16, 1997.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, wish for his advice, remember a goofy moment, and feel deeply sad that he left us so soon.  More than anything, though, I feel very grateful for the 36 years I got with him.

He always liked to tell the story of being born in a cabin in Wyoming, though the reality is that my adventure-prone/family-avoidant grandfather had come to Wyoming to try to start a dude ranch, which he abandoned after (1) his father-in-law joined them to keep an eye on him; and (2) his second child (my uncle) was born.  Dad ultimately spent most of his childhood in St. Louis, as a white kid surrounded by privilege who rooted for civil rights and Jackie Robinson.

Image: white woman (Amy) in short sleeve shirt and khaki shorts and older white man (Amy's dad) in a short sleeve shirt and blue pants stand in front of log cabin.

My father and me at the “log cabin” the year before he passed.

He was a lawyer who devoted his professional life to advocating — in state government, at the EEOC, and as a consultant — for civil rights and specifically equal employment opportunity.  Outside his professional life, he enjoyed languages, travel, the coast of Maine, card games, the St. Louis Cardinals, fried eggs over easy, trains, grilling in the snow, pretending to understand my brother’s Chem E thesis, Christmas morning, and his almost endless extended family. Nothing made him happier than gathering everyone around the table — at home or a restaurant — for a long, conversational meal. He’d show up at our colleges or law/grad schools and gather up a big group of classmates and friends to go out to dinner. Nothing fancy – ever.  Most commonly a diner, or some egregiously Americanized Chinese restaurant (lemon chicken, anyone?).  After he passed, many of his professional colleagues told us similar stories:  he was always gathering everyone together for a friendly dinner after any event.  With that in mind, in creating his headstone, Bruce and I paraphrased a line from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech —

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

and added this plaque:

Peter Clendenin Robertson
November 5, 1935 – April 16, 1997.
“Let us sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Triangular granite stone about 18" high, bearing a plaque: "Peter Clendenin Robertson, November 5, 1935 - April 16, 1997. "Let us sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

Love and miss him, and am deeply grateful for everyone who has shared his stories over the years.  If you knew him, grab some friends and remember him over a plate of lemon chicken.

Update:  here’s a post with additional fun photos:   https://thoughtsnax.com/2010/11/05/photographic-tribute-to-my-dad/  

In honor of father’s day

I drove from Boston to Portland (almost) without directions, got lost, swore, got back on Rte 1A, and applied suntan lotion by pouring it on the dashboard and then daubing it on my face.

Also so glad I get to spend the weekend with his brother (my uncle) and his family — for my awesome cousin’s wedding shower.  He’d be so proud, Carey!!


Miss you, Dad!

Dad’s photo archive: a trip to Gaspé, Quebec

My Dad attended a summer camp — Camp Ironwood — in Harrison, Maine, which apparently took  a driving trip to Gaspé, Quebec

Harrison to Gaspe map

one summer in the (I’m guessing) 1940s.  Here are some of his photos.  Text is from his penciled comments on the back of each.

Dog cart:

PCR-188 dog cart in Gaspe, PQ

Percé Rock:

PCR-197 Perce Rock, Gaspe PQ

PCR-198 Perce Rock, Gaspe PQ

Fishing village:

PCR-202 fishing village

Fishing harbor drying nets:

PCR-219 fishing harbor nets drying

Cartful of dried cod:

PCR-220 cartful of dried cod outside Perce

And of course, Dad himself: