Tag Archives: daughter

Souvenir of a Dad’s Lullaby

A ’20s hit triggers memories of a musical father who sang his 10 children to sleep each night.

Today’s story appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal. Barbara Corcoran spoke with reporter Marc Myers. Barbara and Marc kindly allowed Savvy Dad to share this story.

I know that I seem tough on TV’s “Shark Tank,” often tearing into business pitches, but deep down I’m really a softie. Growing up in Edgewater, N.J. in the mid-1950s with five sisters and four brothers, I loved listening to my father sing in the living room every Wednesday night with his barbershop quartet. The song he sang that touched me most was “Heart of My Heart.”

Barbara Corcoran

Barbara and her Dad

My father loved music more than anything else. A printing press foreman in Newark, N.J., he had taught himself to play guitar, piano and accordion. He also sang tenor with a group of guys he worked with and always sang at family gatherings. When I was about 5 years old, my father began singing “Heart of My Heart” each night to put us all to sleep. But since he couldn’t be in both the boys and girls’ rooms at once, he’d sing live in one and play a tape of him singing the song in the other. The next night he’d switch. READ MORE 

What Do You Mean Girls Can’t Play Ball?

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.'”

—Ronald Reagan

Today’s story contributed by Pat McKinzie-Lechault.

“What do you mean girls can’t play ball?”
“My daughter can beat every boy in the gym!”

In a time when girls were relegated to the sideline by a society that said, “Sit, smile, cheer,” Dad told me, “Run, jump, play.” Heck, my dad was ahead of Title IX.

basketball coach

Pat McKinzie-Lechault and her dad, Jim McKinzie.

When other dads insisted their daughters play dolls, Dad nurtured my athleticism. Every time Dad played catch with my brother, he’d throw the ball to me too, so I grew up feeling equal to boys.

Dad even taught me how to hang on to a football so expertly I’d have been a first string wide receiver had I been a boy. While society insisted sports were harmful for females, Dad encouraged me to play ball. During the infancy of Title IX, together my father and I fought a steady battle for girls’ sports.

I grew up in a different time. It was during an era when athletic girls had no role models. When others teased, “Hey, jock,” I cringed, but never lost my self-esteem. READ MORE 

Wax Angel

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to tell someone how much you love them and how much you care about them, because when they’re gone, no matter how loud you shout and cry, they won’t hear you anymore.”


Today’s story is contributed by Risa Nye.

wax angel mom

Risa’s mother at the mic, circa 1960

After my mother died in 2007, my sister and I tackled the job of clearing out her house, room by room. I thought the kitchen pantry would be pretty straightforward, so I opened the door and surveyed the shelves.

My mother’s pantry: stockpiled with “just in case” supplies left untouched for years. I quickly tossed aside the boxes of stale crackers and cookies and emptied murky bottles into the sink. But tucked away in the farthest corner of one shelf, nearly hidden behind ancient cans of soup and boxes of petrified teabags, a little black box caught my attention. My mother had stashed her jewelry in unlikely places, so this box might contain a precious pair of earrings — or it could be empty. I reached for the box and opened it carefully.

And there she was: a wax angel who had rested peacefully in the pantry for over 30 years.


A Sonny Day

To her, the name of father was another name for love.

—Fanny Fern

Today’s story is from Summer Puente.

On occasion, we share a story that cuts deep, so deep that the customary “life lesson” seems extraneous. A story that confounds the traditional paradigm of what a father should be, and reveals the boundless potential of what a father can be.

In the words of Summer Puente…

“This is my dad. With him is my eldest sister, Sonny.”
Summer Puente

“Thomas and Sonny eat dinner in the big chair and fall asleep together every night.”

“She’s got the cognitive ability of a two or three year old, with limited speech and mobility and function. Like a baby, trapped within the temperament of a toddler and in the body of a young woman.”


Burnt Finger

“Experience is a hard teacher, because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”

— Vernon Sanders Law

Today’s story is contributed by Risa Nye.

When I was a little girl, my mom had to go to the hospital a few times. I don’t remember why exactly, but I do remember how things were different around the house when my dad was in charge.

burnt finger


He liked to cook us breakfast in the morning, and always made us try to guess “the secret ingredient” — in our eggs, our Cream of Wheat, or our pancakes. It was usually cheese, but sometimes he surprised us with something else.

And, let’s just say he allowed us do things we weren’t allowed to do when Mom was around. There is one event in particular that’s seared into my memory, for reasons that will become obvious. Here’s the way I remember it: READ MORE 

The Pie That Made My Dad Propose

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmm, boy.”

—Jack Handy

Today’s story is contributed by Sue Marquis Bishop

When my father started talking about an old girlfriend’s cooking, my mom baked him this little number. He decided she was a keeper.

My mother prepared a formal dinner with dessert every night of the week for her husband and four children, and the six of us ate together, at the table in the dining room, Dad at one end and Mom at the other.

Old Fashioned Cream Pie

Old Fashioned Cream Pie

Whenever the dessert was cream pie, Dad would ask, “Did you know I married your mom because she made the best pie I ever ate?” Then he’d pause and chuckle. “Even better than Josephine’s pies,” he would add with a wink in my mom’s direction.

Then he’d retell the Marquis family story. My parents met on a blind date in Charleston, West Virginia, in the spring of 1938. She said he arrived at the door in a brown-checkered suit. His first words were, “Hi, I’m Harold Marquis. Do you want to go dancing?” READ MORE 

Dad Said “No Way.” I Did It Anyway.

“Learning is always rebellion… Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what was believed before.”

—Margaret Lee Runbeck

Today’s story is contributed by Pamela P.

Everything Dad said I couldn’t do, I did. I was determined to prove him wrong, to be my own kid.

Athletics — “girls don’t do that,” said Dad. Other “no ways.” Boys. Bikes. Electronics. Pants. I did them anyway. All the things that “girls didn’t (or shouldn’t) do,” I would jubilantly embrace.
no way dad

Pamela’s dad, Aquiles, as a young man

My family is Chilean; we came here when I was 3, fleeing Pinochet as political refugees. America didn’t soften Dad. He was — and is — the stereotypical Latino man (and dad). Overprotective. Authoritarian. Rigid. Sexist. And racist, too.

Dad was obsessed with sheltering his “little girl” from the ways of a land strange to him, but so comfortable, a perfect home to her. He was doing his best (I know now) but he was also driving me crazy.

(You can probably tell, I resented my father growing up. Today I am exactly what he was not — an artist, a progressive, an activist — he embodied everything I would come to abhor.)

My parents would later return to Chile (the States weren’t for them). My sister and I, as adults, stayed on. READ MORE