Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Complicated Day

March 10 is always a complicated day for me, for complicated and varied reasons.
For example, on this day in 1957, a man named Mohammad bin Awad bin Laden became a father.  Again.  He managed to do this a total of 54 times in his life, with 22 different wives.  See, now there's a guy who understood about putting all your eggs in one basket.  One smart man, if you ask me.  Obviously, not all your kids will turn out great, but what a disappointment little Osama turned out to be!

It's also the day  in 1940 that Ray Norris, famous Oklahoma mechanic and truck driver, became a dad for the first time when little Carlos was born.  Ray was destined for heartache however when the boys' mother moved to California, taking Ray's sons with her.  When Chuck Norris breaks someone's heart, it stays broken.

Graham Farmer, born on March 10th.
James Gerald Ray became a father on this day, as well.  In 1928.  We know so little about him, though.  Did he ever wonder, for example, where he went wrong with his son, the low-life assassin James Earl Ray?

It's not all bad news, though.  In 1935 on this day, a man named Farmer had a son nicknamed Polly.  This lad became the most famous Australian Rules Football player in history, Graham Farmer.  In America, he'd probably be the equivalent of Ronald Reagan or something.  Today, there's a freeway in Perth named after him, the Graham Farmer Freeway, which passes directly underneath the dodgy Perth suburb of Northbridge.  Good job too, because you wouldn't want to have to drive through Northbridge if you could help it.  The tunnel is known among your more humor-orientated locals as "the Polly Pipe."

Eddy Lincoln's proud papa,
shown here WITHOUT a hat.
On this day in 1846, famous beard and hat aficionado Abraham Lincoln became a father for the second time.  What a great man he was, who contributed so much to the world of public hat and beard wearing in spite of having such a miserable home life.  Even naming the child was mired in conflict:  "Eddy" versus the mother's irrational insistence on "Eddie."  What a nut-job that Mary Todd was!  But Lincoln's joy was to be short-lived.  Literally, as Eddy only lived to age three years, ten months and 21 days.  I cannot look at a  US one cent coin without seeing some of his anguish.

Also on this day, in 1947, famous Toledo resident Don Scholz became a dad!  This is wonderful news, because little Tommy did everything that typical boys do.  He fiddled with everything from go-karts to airplanes, was a basketball star in High School, took piano lessons, and went on to get a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.  Don was incredibly proud of his boy Tom, but the best was yet to come.  After working as an engineer for a few years, Tom Scholz literally "gave up the day job" and founded one of the three greatest American Prog-Rock bands ever, Boston, and became a bazillionaire rock star!  Every parent's dream come true.

Founder of Boston born on 10 March.
(The other two are Kansas and The Mothers of Invention, in case you weren't sure.)

Many people misunderstand what it means when  father is "proud" of his boy.  They project their own insecurities onto the situation and assume that it is a kind of boasting, a self-validation, living vicariously, or the dad simply attempting to big-note himself for something the son has accomplished.  This is the wrong interpretation entirely.  That swelling in the chest that a father feels when his son makes good is pure joy from the knowledge that the boy has unlocked a little of his own unlimited potential and is experiencing some measure of fulfillment of his own life's purpose.  That's what every father yearns to be able to do.

On this day in 1964, a very lucky guy named Phil became a father for the fourth time.  Who exactly is this Phil person?  It's a little complicated.  His real name is Phillip von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.  But he's not German as one might assume, he's actually Greek.  He married well, though, to an English gal named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, otherwise known as Queen Elizabeth II of England!  Although the lad in question, Prince Edward, will never become king of England (I think even his Chauffeur is ahead of him in the succession line), Phil is still very, very proud of his boy Edward, Earl of Wessex.

Speaking of royalty, this is also the very date in 1845 on which Alexander Nicolaievich Romanov's life changed forever.  His son Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov born on that day succeeded him as Tsar Alexander III of Russia, but married the most unfortunately-named woman in History: Dagmar.

Karl Whilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel,
born 10 March 1772.
In 1772, on this day, Johann Adolf Schlegel became a dad for the second time.  Both his sons became important German scholars and philosophers, but the younger son born on this day was by far the shining star of the two.  Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel achieved rock-star status among German intellectuals.  Of course today no one remembers exactly what their deal was, but at the time it was all terribly important stuff.

On this day in 1705, Johann Jakob Stöller (what an AWESOME name!) became father to a son who went on to do some tremendous things.  For example, he discovered Alaska.  No small feat, since Alaska is a frickin' huge, frozen object found way, way up there!  Young Georg Wilhelm also got a lot of animals named after himself, also as a result of discovering them.  I'm not sure how he missed out on naming rights to "Alaska" though.  So I'm going to start calling the place "Stöllerland" from now on.

March 10th was not really a wonderful day for one particular father, however. Jean Calas, a merchant from Toulouse, France, died on this date in 1762 at the hands of his torturers, fanatic Catholics (i.e. the French Government) who insisted that he had killed his own son.  In fact, the son had committed suicide, but out of shame the family tried to hide the fact, which led authorities to suspect the dad of filicide.  A terrible series of events, to be sure.  And as usual one with at least one positive outcome.  The famous French philosopher Voltaire, aka Françios-Marie Arouet, became interested in the case and through his incessant needling, haranguing and embarrassing the government, he succeeded in having the charges reversed posthumously.  He also secured a substantial payout for the bereaved and aggrieved family.  The government was thereafter a little more circumspect about torturing people to death whenever Voltaire was around.

On March 10, 1977, Astronomers announce that they have discovered a ring of debris around Uranus.

What's so funny?  It's a true fact.  Look it up.

On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the very first telephone call, to his assistant who it turns out was only in the next room over.  He was over-charged for the call, and is currently still on hold with customer assistance to try to get it resolved.

That means that as of today, the telephone has been around for 136 years.  But do you think my son will pick one up and call me?  Or is he going to wait another 136 years to talk to a dad who is very proud of him, no matter which nation or province he becomes supreme ruler over, how big a rock star he becomes or how many new species get named after him?

Son, you're always a star in my book.

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