Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wooooapppeee Birthday dear Daddy

My father, Seward James Blair ("Bud"), would be 100 years old today. He's pictured above on or around his first birthday. Helen, his two years older sister (born December 15, 1910), called him Buddie, her attempt to say brother, and the name stuck. He was always known as Bud and that's probably a good thing; Seward isn't particularly euphonious. He was named Seward at the insistence of his grandmother, Amanda Schooley Blair, who was especially fond of her uncle William Henry Seward (Lincoln's secretary of state -- you remember Seward's Folly -- the purchase of Alaska). Bud Blair was born in Goldfield, Nevada, where his parents had settled while his father pursued a banking career in that gold mining boom town.

When the luster of Goldfield began to fade, the family moved north to Tonopah where things were a little livelier. They stayed there until some time in the '20's when they again moved north to Fallon, Nevada. His father remained a banker until the banks closed in the depression at which time the family turned to turkey ranching for a livelihood.

He met and married Ruthanne Hatch while he was an architecture student at UC Berkeley. I am about four years old in the picture above. My father is on the left and his brother, Bill is on the right. My earliest and best memories of my father are from about this time until I was about twelve. He was my hero and I thought he could do anything. He whistled and tap danced everywhere he went and was always busy making things in his workshop. He planted glorious gardens, created wonderful landscapes, built us children great toys, and was always volunteering to help with school activities.
Here is my father shelling dungeness crab for his traditional Christmas crab salad. His method of shelling was to put one chunk in the bowl and one in his mouth. The picture is taken in the "new house." By this time, I was married and had children of my own. My parents had at last moved into the home that my mother dubbed "Seward's Folly."

This was a dream house that became a nightmare. An old tumble down Victorian-era house on an acre of land became our home when I was thirteen years old. The plan was to live temporarily in the old house while a new one was built on the same property. The new house would be spacious to comfortably accommodate five children and our assortment of pets. Sadly, the house was not completed until after all the children had been raised. During all those years, all spare time and money was diverted to the construction of the new house and our family life fell apart.

But the new house did accomodate many family gatherings that are memorable to my children and their cousins. We gathered there for family birthdays several times a year. An indelible part of these celebrations was my father's rendition of the happy birthday song sung with great gusto:
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
WOOOOOOAAAPPPPPPPPY birthday dear Daddy,
Wappy birthday to you

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