My dad was born on a farm in Northern Idaho on July 8, 1931. July is a bad time to be born when your parents are farmers. I have visions of my grandma waking up that July day, making breakfast for my grandpa and the hired hands, taking a couple hours off in the middle of the day to give birth to my dad (worrying the whole time she was in labour about what she was going to make to feed the men for dinner), then hurrying to get that supper ready before the men came in from the fields.
Here are some other people who were born in 1931. I hope they feel humbled to be mentioned along with my dad, who I am sure is miles ahead of them in the kindness department even if he isn't quite as famous. I think you will recognize most of them: James Dean, Joanne Woodward, Mikhail Gorbachev, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Andy Warhol, and Barbara Walters.
The birth of my dad wasn't the only interesting thing to happen in 1931. Al Capone was sentenced to prison and Thomas Edison died. Two men, Mahatma Gandhi and Adolph Hitler, were gaining the world's attention. One promoted nonviolence and the other espoused hatred and aggression. It was a time when the world was recovering from one war, oblivious to the fact it was rapidly spiraling towards another.
In 1931 horses were still being used to pull the combine during harvest. The source for this painting was an old black and white photo of my grandpa cutting wheat on the farm.
By the time my dad retired things had changed just a bit. The horses had been exchanged for something that was fed diesel instead of hay. The air conditioned cab was a bonus! (By the way, this is a random picture, not my dad.)
The world has changed in many ways since my dad was born eighty years ago. When letters would arrive from my grandpa's family in Denmark my grandma would take out her Danish/English dictionary and painstakingly translate one word at a time. Nowadays it would be a simple matter of plugging the text into Google Translate and pushing a button. Letters themselves are a thing of the past, having long since been replaced by email. And if my dad wants to exchange news with the relatives in Denmark he can just check their Facebook pages.
One thing that has not changed over the years is the way my dad sets the standard for what it means to be a gentleman. He learned this from his father, and has, in turn, instilled this quality in my brother. Here are my dad and brother at a belated 79th birthday dinner last summer. (Please note the Native is not a real person.)
Happy 80th Dad!