Just Hangin’ Around on Fathers Day


I feel like an exam is past, and it wasn’t bad at all really. But I was so focused on getting the pictures right for another family’s Fathers Day gathering that I almost forgot until the afternoon phone calls that I was a father too!

My daughter called from South Dakota. I had sent her the image above from not so many of our thousands of snapshots in a box upstairs that I’ve scanned. It must have been from early 1976. We had gone out to the country to visit a student who had become a friend–a venerable old fella in his mid-forties which seemed ancient back then.

Holli had climbed up on the gate to get a better look at the livestock, lost her footing and her yellow sweater caught on a nail. Loving and vigilant father that I was, I ran back to the car for my camera to preserve the moment, and also for serving suggestions for the next time I was left alone to babysit. Here was a new way to keep up with the kids!

Son Nate called from Missouri. He’d picked out the chords to my “theme song”…Tommy Thompson’s I Got Plans. The boy and I sang the whole thing through over the phone. Today he retakes the law exam to up his chances for a scholarship. God speed, l’il man. We got plans.

Could be I’ll pan for gold, write a novel, or join a band.
I could sell produce from a roadside stand.
Sturdy wife to share my joys, a pair of healthy strappin’ boys
They’ll lend a helpin’ hand, we’ll make a fortune off the land.

When I grow up, I’m gonna settle down,
Chew honeycomb and drive a tractor, grow things in the ground.
Oh, the dream that’s in my eye is just tomorrow’s enterprise
I may be broke tonight but I got plans.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Hello, I’ve been lurking here at your blog for a few weeks. 🙂 I just wanted to say I love your photos, and this one is so funny!

  2. Fred…your Fathers Day entry made me cry. Maybe it’s the early morning, maybe it’s the song…but all so beautifully expressed.