This father’s day

My father was not an intellectual, but he was an extremely thoughtful man. He used to tell me the things he was grateful for and in retrospect I can see he thought about gratitude a lot. He frequently said that the three things he was most grateful for were: 1) that his grandfather didn’t miss the boat from Russia to the United States, 2) that when he arrived in New York he kept traveling until he reached Minnesota, and 3) that his father was born before he was. I join him today in all three thoughts.
I started thinking about my father and this Father’s Day when I heard the old Winstons’ single “Color Him Father” on the radio last week. I learn from the Allmusic Guide entry on them that the Winstons were a Washington, D.C.-based soul act led by Richard Spencer. Spencer was born in North Carolina, where he received some formal training on the piano.
In 1969 the Winstons hit it big with “Color Him Father.” The single was a top ten R&B and pop hit. Spencer wrote the song and won a Grammy for it. The father depicted in the song both sets a good example and emphasizes the importance of education. He also has a big heart for his seven kids. As if that is not enough, Spencer loads an O. Henry twist in the last verse; the man is the kids’ stepfather.

I wonder if the dad in Spencer’s life bore any resemblance to the man in the song. Spencer followed one of the song’s messages, taking a time out from show business to pursue his education in 1979. (First posted last year.)


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