Wishes

My father was a jazz disc jockey.  From the early to mid-50’s he was the host of  “Nick’s Musical Nitecap” – his surname robbed of a syllable and a couple of letters in order to put a listening public squeamish at the sound of a full-fledged Italianate  name at ease.

He has a smudged and mimeographed program from the station – KCSB-FM, San Bernardino.

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His photograph is just visible:  dark-haired and pompadoured, sitting behind a Western Electric microphone.

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When he left, he took his favorite records with him:  Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Lennie Niehaus, Dave Brubeck, Lee Konitz.  Some were Fantasy Record releases, printed on gem-colored vinyl.  And now they are mine.  They are still playable and are quite priceless to me, eBay’s opinions be damned.

Now it’s very rare for me to wish I was an older person.  However, I do wish I was an adult in 1953, living in San Bernardino, rather than the nameless hope of a nation that did not know what it was in for.

I’d then be able to listen to my father’s DJ voice, which would have been…articulate?  Mellifluous?  Spare?  Expansive?  How I wish I knew.  How I wish I’d been there; listening to dad wax poetic – perhaps – on West Coast jazz and then hearing Mulligan’s most eloquent alto sax.

I do have photographs.  Bu I wish I had more.  More in number certainly; but also I wish they could communicate more…more about a part of my father’s life that surely rises him to a plateau of Awesome.

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It has been my privilege and great good luck to have heard my father’s voice for many years – but may I allow myself to be greedy and wish for just a few more?  I can’t believe it would be unreasonable.

My father has done, achieved so much to make me proud of him, to make me love him:  from Emmy awards to tomato gardens, from taking us fishing to taking us to Vegas.  So a stint as DJ makes him even more of an accomplishment, and makes a daughter wish she was with him for longer than would be considered realistic.

On this Father’s Day I do wish my father will know these things – my pride, my love, my deep sentimentality, my envy at all of those fans of his that listened to his Musical Nitecap.

I love you dad, and all that jazz.

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2 responses to “Wishes

  1. I wonder if somewhere there’s a tape of one of your father’s shows. In this age where “everything can be found on the internet,” one might think someone in the studio recorded an evening of your dad spinning records.

    You also remind me that there was a time when “ethnic” names were considered a handicap in show business, so they were hidden and changed. Nowadays it’s considered hip to have an unusual surname and even more unusual given name. 🙂

    I hope your father has a very enjoyable Father’s Day! No doubt he is very proud of his elegant, jazzy daughter.

  2. My father would have enjoyed listening to your father. Their taste in jazz was much the same, it seems: although Dad also inclined toward Big Band and Dixieland.

    I hear the arguments today that single parent homes can raise wonderful, well-grounded children, and that fathers aren’t necessary, except in biological terms. That’s not only wrong, it’s silly. You’re proof of that, and wonderful proof, indeed.

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