Dadden Stories — Introduction

To You, My Dear Gentle Readers

I recorded on July 7th, 1985 that my wife and I were in Allegany State Park in our VW Vanagon Camper. The back seat folded out to make a bed, but when it was up it enclosed a makeshift crib area for my oldest child, Stewart. He was happy and full as we were doing our cooking and dishes. I remember his sheer joy at doing a job well, in this case learning to stand, with the seat back acting as an aid to hold him up. During this good time he started calling me “Dadden”. The joy was shared when I heard that, and the name has stuck.

A few short years later, now with another son, Matthew, I was doing what I loved, reading stories to them before bed time. Some of our favorite stories were My Daddy An Me; The Ghost-Eye Tree; In the Night Kitchen; The Wreck of the Zephyr; Moo, Baa, Lalala; and of course Hot Air Henry. One of these times I asked if they wanted to hear stories of my growing up and they were enthusiastic so we started.

This grew into a common occurrence for a few short years. Favorites emerged, and eventually I recorded some of them onto tape. They became known as Daddy or Dadden Stories. I encourage all parents to offer this treasure to their children. This is a world that often seems disjointed and disconnected. Our children crave to know how they are connected to the past—how they have become. It is a small elixir and helps them become more resilient to life’s many many slings and arrows.

Years passed and children grow away from stories and into games, and hanging out with friends. For a time what came before is gladly disconnected from what they are trying to become. And yet something still remains, a seed. More years have passed and now they are in busy making their adult lives, dealing with jobs, loves, and other adventures. But last yule time Matthew’s request was for me to write down the Dadden stories he knew he had heard, but had mostly forgotten. Perhaps ten pages. It became a 30 page gift with the original recordings, for Stewart and Matthew. Shortly afterwards I began blogging and put out Hastings Nostalgia #1-My Bedroom. Getting many positive responses I’ve started posting more.

I wish I could claim some large purpose to this. A moral to the story. I can not. I have read about ants, and have become a beekeeper and from this have come to understand that these small creatures have a few simple behaviors to react with their environment and their family (in an ant nest or a beehive there is one mom and then only brothers and sisters). Indeed if you add up all the little bee brains in a hive they weigh about the same as a human brain. From each of these small interaction comes “emergent behavior” that is likely overlooked by each individual.

I remind myself of this as I write these stories. Life is mostly known by its small interactions. I appreciate “History”: dates, causes and effects, etc. But here I wish to write about a living, breathing, smelly, visual, tasty history. A poetic history. A heroic history such as all families experience. With such story there are good times, comfortable times, and difficult dangerous times. I believe if we leave out parts of the story we leave out parts of experience that may be so vital to what is to emerge. From all of it I hope something good will emerge, even if we are unaware of what that something is.

To You, My Precious Sons

I wish to declare here, to you and to the whole world, that there has been no experience of joy and of love that’s ever been better than what I’ve had with you. You have made life worth living. Someday I hope you will tell your Dadden stories to your children. Perhaps they will be of riding on my shoulders, or sitting on them in a chair while making out your Christmas wish lists from the Sear’s catalog (including item name and page number, you know, to help Santa). Perhaps of your first backpacking experiences and reading Scary Tales while skunks probed the perimeter of light around our campfire. Or so many other things.

For letting me experience this wonder and joy I thank you and love you.

Dadden
All Saints Day, 2012


Other Dadden Stories

Mixed Memories

My brother-in-law Ken once told me about his friend and his memories. Let’s call this friend Buddy.  Buddy and his parents were together for the holidays once and his mother mentioned an important event in Buddy’s life. Buddy had no memory of it, but it did bring to his mind something he thought was important. Neither of his parents had any memory of it. With the important memories of the parents not even being remembered by Buddy, and vice versa, they spent the rest of the evening seeing if the really important memories of one person were remembered at all by the other. There was no overlap.

I thought this so interesting. It meant parents were working so hard to instill lessons in their childrens’ lives and yet these “lessons” completely blew by the children and it was the unimportant and unremembered moments of a parent’s acts that really stuck with the sons and daughters.

Recently I asked a childhood friend if he remembered, “that bare wire incident that’s so vivid in my memory (room was dark, you were near the train model in the NE corner of the basement, you were sitting on the floor).” He had an electric cord that he plugged into the wall but it ended with bare wires. I was worried at the time that he’d electrocute himself, and indeed he touched a toolbox with the wires, it sparked, and blew a fuse. Not surprisingly, he had no memory of it.

But this got me thinking, I should try this little experiment with my sons during the coming holidays and ask them what they remember as a big deal and tell them what I remember. It could be more fun than playing Risk, or Settlers of Catan!

Stewart the Public Artist

One of the most important and fun events of my summer was my son, Stewart Losee, coming to town and installing his new art piece, as part of a public art grant that he and a few others won.

KC Star Interview

Stewart with the KC Star reporter getting a sidewalk interview.

I was his assistant installing for 12 hours one day and another 8 hours a few days later. It was both exhausting, especially in these 100° days, and rewarding to help my son complete a major showing in his career.

KC is a big art town with one of the country’s better art schools, Stewart’s alma mater The Kansas City Art Institute, so these public art works get in the news. He was interviewed by the reporter on the sidewalk (see the Kansas City Star article) as he was scoping out the scene.

As part of his grant, and because of his own interest, Stewart built his own computer controlled router from the frame. He fabricated the pieces in New York and brought them out to KC. In the mean time a printer in KC printed his triangular plastic images and cut them out on a $2 million machine which was really a complicated X-Acto blade.

Assembling on Back Fence

Stewart assembling on the back fence.

Since his design could be configured in many ways, he started putting it together after seeing the conference center. Assembly was in the late cool(er) evenings. My back fence became an alien art show with neighbors pointing out the strange design to their young children. Unfortunately the images were just a tiny-weenie bit too big. Hours of trimming ensued.

The big twelve-hour day saw three of us (a shout out to Tim for helping) moving the assembly back to the site, more trimming, and the biggest challenge of all: lifting this now heavy beast up onto the wall of the downtown conference center. Three of us barely got the job done.

Stewart With his Former Faculty Adviser

Stewart with his former faculty adviser.

Shortly afterwards there was the party and presentation of grant winners up the block at the Folly Theater. It was a great dad moment to see my son as the youngest grant winner, him showing his former art faculty adviser his latest work, and overhearing her say she could see how he was continuing directions he’d started back in the art school. Maybe all that tuition was worth it!

He’s at stewartlosee.com.

Daddy Stories

I used to tell stories to my sons, Stewart and Matthew, recording them for some future time. They are now transferred from cassette. For Stewart and Matt check enjoy some beautiful times together:

My first tape: {filelink=1}

My second tape: {filelink=2}

Love you, Dad