REMEMBERING A FATHER ON FATHER’S DAY

This story is for those people who don’t always have the best relationships in families, especially fathers.

    Marshall Strauss was ten years of age when the man he called “Dad” passed away after a long illness. His mother came home from the hospital, sobbing, telling of what a good man William Strauss had been. Later that afternoon, she composed herself and called her son over to have a serious talk.

     “What’s the matter, Mom?”

     “I have something to tell you. The man who died this morning loved you and wanted the best for you. But…he wasn’t really your father.”

     Marshall was stunned. “Wha…what do you mean?”

     “He adopted you when you were two years old, that’s why your name is Strauss. Your real father’s name was Arthur Frank.”

     Many thoughts swirled through the boy’s mind, most of all, why he was never told the truth before. “Do you mean my name is really Marshall Frank?”

     “Yes, honey. We wanted for you to not have any confusion, so that we all had the same name. We didn’t think it was necessary to tell you.”

     “But I want to know. I want to know more.  Who was my real father? Where is he? What did he do?”

     She peered at the boy a few silent minutes, then, “Okay. Stay here, I’ll be right back.” Three minutes passed and his mother returned with a large photo album, filled with black and white snapshots, plus a myriad of newspaper clippings. “He died, honey.  In 1941, in a hospital. Then I met Willie Strauss, and we were married. He wanted to adopt you, so we agreed.”

     “What’s in that big book?”

     “Pictures, honey.  Pictures of your father…and some of me performing with him.”

     The boy still could not get over the revelation. It was as though his entire identity had been altered in a matter of minutes. “What did he do? What was he like?”

     “He was a vaudeville comedian and dancer. A big star in the 1920s and 30s. He performed with top billing at the Palace Theater in New York, and many other places, portraying himself as an old Civil War veteran. He could dance with rubber legs. He had audiences screaming with laughter.”

     She opened the pages, and there he was, pictures of a handsome young Art Frank posing for the camera, then another while performing on stage, with old man, grey-beard make-up and costume, the Civil War veteran. The boy was fascinated. But there were so many more questions.  

     “How come he died? Do I have any aunts and uncles, or grandparents?”

     “I’ll tell you everything in good time.  Meanwhile, look here, a picture of your father with Ginger Rogers in 1929. Here’s one with Milton Berle when he was very young. George Burns and Gracie Allen.  And, Rudy Vallee.”

     “Rudy who?”

     She laughed. “He was a crooner.  But your father was among the biggest of stars.”

     And so, young Marshall Strauss embarked on a mission to know his father as best he could, and to know himself as well. He wished he could talk to him, hear his voice, feel his love and laugh, and laugh again. Alas, that would never come to be.

     Often, Marshall would listen to friends complain about their fathers. “Too fussy — Too aloof — Drinks too much — Too strict — Never satisfied.

     “Don’t complain,” Marshall often responded. “At least you knew your father.”

     Marshall Strauss took back his legal birth name and became Marshall Frank. He organized all the pictures plus an array of old 16 mm home movie films of famous people from the old days. Each year he thought about Art Frank’s birthday, special holidays, or what it would be like to give him a Father’s Day card and call him “Dad.”  Wouldn’t that be great. After all, he knew he would have been a loving father and a powerful force in his life.

     Marshall Frank still keeps his memory alive and somehow and lets his real dad know how much he loved and missed him these last eight decades. And…through the magic of cyberspace, he can acknowledge him as a “real” father uttering those magic words.

     Happy Father’s Day – Dad.

26 Responses to REMEMBERING A FATHER ON FATHER’S DAY

  1. Helen Bennett June 18, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Your talented father looked a lot like Dick Van Dyke. You should be so proud!

  2. Pete June 18, 2017 at 7:53 am #

    Happy Father’s Day Marshall

  3. Laura Petruska June 18, 2017 at 8:09 am #

    A strange and interesting story. How to create an entirely new identity … had to be rather disconcerting. What a shame, however, never to have heard his voice.

    The NY Public library has a huge collection of vaudeville – ever see if your dad’s name shows up on data bases – they have old sound (as in radio) as well.

  4. Chris June 18, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    God bless you Marshall….Happy Father’s Day.

  5. BRUCE THOMSON June 18, 2017 at 8:23 am #

    A very touching story Marshall.

    May God bless you, your father, adopted father & all Dads this day!

  6. Stu Milisci June 18, 2017 at 8:29 am #

    Happy Fathers’Day.
    Amazing resemblance.

  7. Charlie June 18, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    Great story Marshall. I thought it was you as soon as I started to read it. Two of my three biological children have pre deceased me leaving one biological and one adopted from my 2nd and current wife’s previous marriage. Although each of them live over 1000 miles away they always remember me on Father’s Day. And a Happy Father’s Day to you.

  8. Charle June 18, 2017 at 9:32 am #

    A heartrending story, Marshall.

    May you always carry your Dad in your heart and know that he is there for you.

    HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

  9. Charle June 18, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    A heartrending story, Marshall.

    May you carry your Dad in your heart and know that he is always there for you.

    HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

  10. Peter Aydelotte June 18, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    Like a good piece of steel it takes tempering. People are like that too.
    its good to see you have been tempered right throughout your life.
    Happy fathers day.

  11. MZF June 18, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    Marshall, how touching. I think you are the only left in the family with such sentiments – your Mother’s Day story and this one. Somehow our family forgets the great things some family members did……………..except you. Jerry often talked about Uncle Arthur; but he’s gone now too. Patti and I wish you a “Happy Fathers Day”

    Marlene

  12. Pat Pesce June 18, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    sad but wonderful story and a good message for those who take for granted the importance of parents

  13. EFG June 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    Your tribute to your Dad brings a tear in my eye. There is no way to describe the wonder in your Dad and how unfair that you never had the chance to know the beauty in this mans soul–even more he was cheated by not having the chance to spend time with a son who shared his talent and inner beauty. Again thank you for sharing

  14. jakadoc June 18, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

    I’ve never shared this with anyone. My dad never held me or kissed me or gave me a encouraging word and abused my mom. After eight decades the hurt is still fresh. Your lucky Marshall to have that positive image of your Dad. God bless you.

  15. Linda Santucci June 18, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Dear Marshall,
    Thank you for sharing this very personal, heartfelt message..
    It is so deeply touching.
    You are an amazing person, and you have a friend in anyone who has come to know you.
    I am so glad we are at least FB friends, and I enjoyed reading your own person story. Your dad is surely very proud of what you made of your life.

    I had a good man who was my stepfather, and was a great dad. Through school and college until I married, he had me use his name. I met my natural father when I was 42 years old. He was a good man who later passed away. But life caused me to become my own person. I think God is proud of me.
    Sincerely,
    Linda Santucci

  16. JustMe June 18, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    I’ve seen your dad in videos, dancing and being the very talented entertainer that he was.
    I’m so glad you came to find out who he was and to learn about him from your beloved mother.
    Happy Fathers Day, Marshall.

  17. Ray Renfro June 18, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

    Great story, about your Father who was a very interesting man. My story covers both my Father in Law and my Father. My Father in Law passed away in 1992 at 87. He raised 5 kids and worked on the Railroad for 48 years. My father passed away in 1987 at 78. He raised two kids and retired as a Major in the Army after storming the beaches of Normandy and was a part of the invasion of Inchon in Korea.

    Both of these men were patriots and contributed a lot to keeping America Free.
    https://goo.gl/CTHDQU

  18. Rico June 18, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    Loved the story MR FRANK! It made me a bit emotional.

  19. Marie Capece June 18, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    You are Blessed to have those memories.

  20. David Lee Valdina June 18, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    Love is a very powerful thing. Happy Father’s Day to us all. And for those not yet fathers, when you become one, be the very best you can be. Work at it. Ask the grandpas for they are the experts while the fathers are amateurs, going through it for the first time. It is indeed nice in the senior years to have children and grandchildren who love you and show it.

  21. Dorothy E. Miller June 19, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    Love the story, not only this story all your books

  22. Cathy Pesce June 19, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

    A touching account of the longing to find your identity and history through your parents. Its so important to know, whether its a positive or negative bit of information. We want to know. All too often though we take our parents for granted. This story should be a lesson to those of us who don’t realize or appreciate what they have. Thank you for sharing your story.

  23. Kay Williamson June 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    Thank you, Marshall, for sharing your beautiful story. It’s great that you’ve honored your dad in so many ways. I was very close to my dad who died on Father’s Day when he was only 63. I think of him every day but especially on Father’s Day.

  24. Snake Hunter{s} June 21, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Again, Thank You Marshall…For Sharing….

    This Up-lifting, Personal Story With Friends. – reb
    ___ ___

  25. Jeanne Volk June 21, 2017 at 4:59 pm #

    Beautiful and touching story, Marshall. 😊

  26. Tom June 22, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    You always have a touch for revealing a true story with the proper adverture, an adventure that makes us all want to investigate our own past…thanks, my friend.