October 1, 2021


This photo shows my father Arley sitting in a lawn chair at our home with his baby daughter Sally perched on his lap.  To me it seems that we’re both taking a moment to reflect on our unlikely positions!  He had hardly expected to be a new father at his age—when he already had two grandsons.  But here we were and it was pretty wonderful for us both!

I was his third daughter and he really wanted our relationship to be different.  He had struggled to support his five children during the Depression years and didn’t always have the time and energy just for enjoying them.  Then his first daughter Mildred had died of typhoid fever at the age of 15.  Two years later his wife Alta got sick and died, still brokenhearted over losing her daughter.  His other daughter Tootsie had finished high school and was in love with her sweetheart Joe. They eloped by the time I was a year old.  

When he married my widowed mother, she told him she’d love to have another child. She only had one grown son.  He wasn’t overly excited at the idea but she eventually won him over to her way of thinking. He could hardly imagine being a new father at 50!

I had my work cut out for me, and set out to win this reluctant father’s heart.  Somehow all my babyish charm seemed to work.  Soon he was calling me his “little chicken” and carrying me about with him everywhere. I like to think having someone new to love helped fill the gap Mildred’s death had left in his heart.

This photo taken on the same day tells me he was happy with his baby girl.  His smile and his hand firmly supporting me made me really happy, too.  Being Daddy’s girl was very special indeed.

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