Happy Father's day to all the Dad's out there. A life changing experience for many of us, the first time we have a son or daughter. It changes everything about us and life.
We are no longer mom and dad's kid, we have moved on to caretaker, mentor and provider.
We've become dad.
And in many ways we become a form of our own dad. I find myself saying and repeating advice that I heard from him. He was a judge, so I learned a lot around the dinner table, him talking about work sometimes. I remember going and watching him in court. It was the most amazing thing.
There was a high school / college age kid being tried in court. He had been arrested for going around town and spraying people with a large fire extinguisher. The one that got him in trouble was at the Bellevue Cinema in Bellevue Square next to the Crab Apple Restaurant. There was a guy high up on a ladder changing out the reader board about 30 feet off the ground and the kid sprayed him with his water cannon.
My dad was explaining the severity of it, that if the guy changing the reader board had fallen and died, it would have been man slaughter.
But on the other hand, it was like a kid's prank.
But if he had died, there would be prison time. It was that serious. He took quite a bit of time with the legal explanation and the ethical responsibility that the young man shared with society.
The kid was shaking in his shoes wondering what was going to happen next.
Then my dad sentenced him to time in jail, suspended unless he got a second occurrence in the next year. He was going to be on probation. My dad explained that he believed that he was a good man, and that this was just a blip of bad judgment, but that he was also at the point, that he had to make a dedicated decision to make good judgment calls in his life.
My father asked him if he felt he could do that.
The young man beamed from ear to ear and said, "Yes sir, I can and I will."
My dad smiled too,
And then I think I cried just a little.
My dad always felt that as a judge, he was in a position to give people "their day in court" and to motivate a young person to make the right turn in their life, but most of all to make people feel that they were worthy.
Imagine being arrested, appearing in court and having the judge tell you that you were a worthy person, and that he was expecting to hear good things about you in the future.
His court system had the fewest repeat offenders in the State of Washington.
The State of Connecticut flew him back East to conference with him to learn about his method and program.
Bellevue, 54 years later. Looking at Bellevue from the Seattle side, and from the South on I-405
He also chaired the meetings in 1953 at Enatai Elementary School down the street from our home, to put together the structure and zoning for the City of Bellevue. When he was done, he drove down to Olympia and bought the license that turned Bellevue into a city, he carpooled with Ken Day who bought a city license for Clyde Hill.
He had previously lived near Woodland Park in Seattle, and didn't want Bellevue to look like highway 99 as it went North past Green Lake. Bellevue became a city with no billboards, zoning for commercial and residential, and large super blocks for high rise in the downtown core. This was all decided in those early fifties meetings done at Enatai. He became mayor of Bellevue shortly after.
Making a dock with materials on hand, we scavenged cedar logs floating in the lake, and then cut and hand split them for the dock planks.
But I think the thing that also impressed me was being on vacation with him, watching him swing splitting malls and axes. Scavenging logs in the lake and bringing them back to our little log cabin on the lake. He taught us to fish, how to change wheels on boat trailers, and how to get outboard engines running on the boats. As kids, we would be out all day with a 4 hp motor exploring a sixty mile long lake in Canada. One time working on the Jetty, he picked up so many rocks that day that he wore the skin off the ends of his fingers. He had round red flesh spots on his finger tips. We had to tell him to stop.
That was the only type of thing that I ever heard my mother get cross about.
"Melvin, you need to take a break, you're going to kill yourself."
Hey, it could have been worse.
He never did anything that embarrassed us kids, but did provide example after example of what you can do, and what you can do for the community.
He always believed that you had to plan for generations, nobody really did, so he took that responsibility seriously.
At one point he was on the Metro planning council, his biggest accepted idea was the Hood Canal Floating Bridge.
Bellevue had permits for it's own water source in the 50's which they let expire when the City of Seattle convinced those that came after my dad that the region had all the water it would ever need.
My father knew better. He knew better way back when and had provided for the future before the future was upon us.
He was being fatherly.