Happy Birthday Dad!

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

My father, Daniel Glen Van Straten, was born 69 years ago. As well as wish him a happy birthday, I wanted to share a little information about him for those who don’t know him as I know him. So I thought that I would share 15 (6 + 9) facts about him (I figure this will be much less daunting than my original idea of sharing 69 facts about him!)

1. My father was born in the year 1939. What happened this year? Well, nylon stockings (otherwise known as pantyhose) were first sold in this year, Gone With the Wind was out in the movie theaters, the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants for the NFL Championship, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was published, a car cost $700, a house cost $6500, gas was 18 cents a gallon, postage stamps were 3 cents each, minimum wage was 25 cents/hour, and the average annual income was $1,729!! (information from “Schemer: A Boy Grows Up in Wisconsin”, by Daniel Glen Van Straten)

2. Oh yeah, my dad has published a book!! I still can’t believe that he has accomplished such an awesome task. I still think back to when I was in school and I procrastinated so much because I hated writing. But, somehow, I (according to my father) ignited a spark in my dad to write his story. The book was self-published in 2007 and tells the story of my dad’s adventures of growing up in the village of Shiocton, Wisconsin. This book is available on the Barnes and Noble website if you are interested.

3. My father is one of 11 children! The first born was a girl, followed by 7 boys, then 3 more girls. My dad’s parents were Aloysius Leonard Van Straten and Cecelia Fern Dietzler. His brothers and sisters (in order) include:

Joyce Elaine Josephine (November 5, 1923)

Roger Dale (March 7, 1926)

Gerald Aloysius (“Gug”) (June 1, 1928)

Donald Clark (“Donnie”) (September 20, 1931)

Leonard James (“Lennie” or “Jim”) (April 14, 1934)

Patrick Russell (“Dutch”) (March 17, 1936)

Carl Henry (October 17, 1937)

Daniel Glen Joseph (April 16, 1939)

Alice Ann (February 8, 1941)

Karen Mary (July 21, 1945)

Mary Cecelia (October 14, 1949)

Try keeping track of that many birthdays!

4. My dad is retired from being a librarian. I used to LOVE going to visit my dad at the library when I was a kid. It was always a special treat. Mom would take me and my brother to the library and first we would get to look at all the books and check some (or more like a LOT, in my case) out. Then we would get to go behind the checkout desk, to the elevator, and ride to the basement and visit dad. His office was always full of books because he worked in the card catalog department (this was way back when, when they actually had those card catalogs in the nifty long drawers that you had to pull out and look for alphabetically by title, author, or subject). Sometimes he wouldn’t be at his desk but would be at the card catalogs and I would be able to go up to him and say, “Hi Dad!” He was always happy for a visit from us!

5. My dad likes to camp. In his younger days, he was a Boy Scout leader for my brother’s troop and they would do some camping. Every year, for as long as I can remember we would go to Door County, WI, for vacation. At first we would live in a rented cottage for a week, but then, after I explained to my dad how much fun it would be to have a camper because my best friend Michele and her family went camping in a camper, we got a pop-up camper and boy was that fun! In fact, my parents still go camping twice a year–to Door County and also to the state park that is right in Sheboygan, WI where they live.

6. My dad has one grandchild–Eric Thomas. He is going to be 7 years old this year. He loves to spend time with Grandpa–in the garden, playing board games, decorating Christmas cookies, and pretty much anything else that Grandpa is doing. I know he keeps my dad hopping!

7. My dad lived on a farm when he was growing up. Some of the crops that were planted were pickles, sugar beets, and cabbage. My dad still retains his love of gardening and has a large garden that he plants every year. Now he plants corn, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green and yellow beans, rhubarb, pumpkins, carrots, and probably more that I’m not thinking of. I still remember in my younger days my dad harvesting the vegetables when they got ripe. There would always be tomatoes on the window ledge over the kitchen sink and HUGE zucchini that my dad left out in the garden for too long and my mom would say, “Daniel, what am I going to do with zucchini that are this big? You know they are much nicer when they are smaller, less seeds and more tender.”

8. Famous people born on April 16th include: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Henry Mancini, Charlie Chaplin, Wilbur Wright, and a lot of other people that different websites say are famous but I’ve never heard of!

9. My father’s last name used to be Ver Straten. His great-grandparents, Martin and Gertrude Ver Straten emigrated to the United States from Holland in 1870 to Brown County, Wisconsin, settling on a 40-acre farm outside of DePere, WI (which coincidentally was where my mother grew up…small world!) The Dutch family name changed from Ver Straten to Van Straten after they emigrated to the United States. One of these days I would like to visit Holland, place of my ancestors.

10. Every year my dad goes deer hunting. It has been awhile since he has actually got one, but there is a distant memory in my mind of a time when my dad did get a deer. He goes up to hunt at Skunk Hill Lodge, a 160-acre piece of land that his father bought and which is still in the Van Straten family, used by many of my uncles and cousins.

11. My dad likes to pick strawberries. It is a favorite memory of mine of my dad going to pick strawberries. He would go for the whole afternoon and then when he came back the entire trunk of our station wagon would be full of strawberries. Then we could munch on them and mom would make strawberry shortcake. Mom also froze a lot of them so that we could have strawberries even in the wintertime.

12. My dad likes to make homemade Christmas candy. Every year he will make chocolate covered pretzels and peanuts, angel food candy that melts in your mouth, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered cornflakes, and peanut cake. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without dad’s candy. I look forward to it (as well as my mom’s fudge and turtles) every year when I visit home.

13. My dad is a good ice skater. Usually every year when I come home for the holidays, he and myself and my nephew Eric will go to the ice skating rink. It’s a great feeling to rush along the ice without a care in the world (of course it usually takes about 20 minutes before I feel this way–the first 20 minutes I’m praying that I don’t fall or run into the side walls!). When I was young we would go roller skating and I still remember holding tight to my dad’s hand while going around the rink.

14. My dad likes to act. When he was in high school he had a lead role in the senior class play. When he was older, he was chosen to be Andrew when our church put on “The Last Supper.”

15. My dad likes sauerkraut! For those of you who don’t know what this delicacy is, it is white cabbage salted and fermented in its own liquid. Not very appealing to me, but I still remember when my dad was working at the library, he would pack a container of sauerkraut in his lunch pail almost every day. I guess that’s what you grow to like when you raise cabbage on a farm!

So, there you have it. Just 15 odd little facts about my father. But they don’t begin to describe the man that I love and look up to. Dad, here’s wishing you many, many more happy birthdays!

Published in: Uncategorized on April 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,