My Father the Madman

Dad and Mom as newlyweds 

I can still see the blue smoke swirling above my dad’s head as he puffed on a pipe while reading the Sunday newspaper. Sometimes he entertained my sister Patty and me by blowing rings that lingered, then floated to the ceiling and disappeared. The sweet scent of pipe tobacco filled the living room of our small apartment along with classical music which resonated from the speaker on the record player.  Patty and I lounged on the white wool carpet while giggling at the comic strips.

He used a large magnifying glass to show us how color is separated during the printing process. We gasped in amazement upon the discovery of the tiny dots of red, yellow, and blue that blended to create the colorful funny pages. One time, he gave us each an egg filled with Silly Putty and flattened it out, then pressed it onto our favorite strip. We could see the duplicated image on its sticky surface. Back then it seemed like magic! Mom would fuss about the lint he would pick up on his black trousers after sitting on the floor with us.

My dad was creative director of Hanson Outdoor Advertising in Madison, Wisconsin. He designed the logo for American Family Insurance in the early 1960’s, which hasn’t changed in fifty years! That red roof may be one of the most recognized symbols in the United States. Go Dad! The lighted billboard that he created for the company became the marker for airplanes that flew into Truax field.

Logo created by my dad, Ed McCartan

These monster murals were 12 feet high by 40 feet long. His artwork was photographed, projected, and traced onto giant sheets of paper. Then, two other men from the company would hand paint the plywood. It took a crew of eight men and a cherry picker to install it onto the roadside billboard which could be 15 feet off the ground. Other times the artwork was enlarged, printed on giant sheets of paper, and then glued onto the massive board. Sometimes he brought home this folded paper so we could draw on the back of it. The front side showed vibrant and sometimes complicated examples of color separation.

One of the last signs he painted with my brother Joe

Dad was one of the original Madmen. I remember my parents hosting a few cocktail parties for the agency. The women wore snazzy dresses with their hair piled high in up-dos and pageboys with long bangs and hoop earrings. The handsome men wore suits and ties. They all seemed to smoke cigarettes. From the back hallway I watched the guests engage in lively discussions while holding those super cool martini glasses.

A cocktail party from Madmen

Although Dad could be a lot of fun, he was also the parent I feared the most. He had the gift of the look which consisted of widening his eyes and knitting his bushy brows. He never shouted at me, but drew back his lips and succinctly spoke in a way that got my attention. I had been raised in the days of “children should be seen and not heard at the dinner table.” It had been listed in a magazine along with other wonderful ways to raise children. Many times I gabbed away and found myself in my bedroom. Eventually, my parents gave up on the idea of altering my personality. As my sister and brother got older, we fully engaged in the dinner conversation. I never quite mastered the look when disciplining my own children.

Sunday was family day. Many times after church, my mother packed up a picnic lunch and we drove to a nearby park. After eating our sandwiches, Dad painted with oils or watercolors while my sister and I worked in our coloring books usually at the side of beautiful lake.

One time he entered an outdoor art show. Dad framed one of my crayon drawings to display along with his paintings. I was thrilled when a lady bought my artwork until she said, “Oh, I really just wanted the frame. It’s a lovely picture. Would you like to keep it?” I fought back tears as she took my masterpiece out of the gilded frame and handed it to me. Dad consoled me after she left. 

Remember the science fair? “The Uses and Nuisances of Mold”

My dad had the brilliant idea of using baby food jars.

As a fifth grader, I received an assignment to create a diorama about the early settlers. By now we lived across the street from school and I skipped home very excited about the art project. My brother had been born the year before, so my mom was happy to hand over the supervision to my father. By then he worked as an independent advertiser. With watered down paste, we dipped newspaper strips and formed two hills on top of a piece of fiberboard. After it dried, I painted the surface to make it look like grass and a stream. Then he helped me build a log cabin out of twigs from the yard. It even had a small window! My dad beamed when I received an “A!”

The next year I needed to do another one for the book Misty of Chincoteague. After explaining the assignment my dad said, “Why don’t you use the diorama from last year.” I sprang to action and glued a few of my porcelain ponies onto the surface. “Done!”

I smiled after receiving another “A,” but one of the kids in my class remembered something more than familiar about my artwork and made a stink about it. My “A” was downgraded to a “C+.” I stumbled home humiliated and crying. My dad comforted me by saying, “You did all the work. That kid was a smart-aleck for telling on you.”


I can’t believe “we” lugged that aquarium to the fair.

After graduating from college, I hoped to be hired by an advertising agency as an illustrator like my dad. I set up some interviews in downtown Milwaukee and arranged to stay with a friend. Dad drove me to the Badger Bus Depot. As I stood ready to board the bus with a portfolio in one hand and a suitcase in the other, my dad said, “Well Susie, good luck.” He gave me a hug and then tears welled-up in his eyes. It shocked me that the possibility of moving away saddened him. How I viewed the relationship changed after that. I realized that he would miss me not only as a daughter, but as a friend.

As it turned out, my high hopes were dashed in Milwaukee. I stayed in Madison where I eventually found a job as a medical illustrator for the VA Hospital and later transferred to Denver after getting married.

A chip off the old block – Working as an illustrator in the ’80’s 

My dad (who is 86-years-old), and I continue to enjoy the common interest of art. We still appreciate each other’s work even though I have switched mediums to writing.

My father truly was one of the original Madmen!


Thanks for everything Dad and Happy Father’s Day!

Do you remember those art projects? Did one of your parents help you?


Family photos by Susie Lindau

Madmen photo from website

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Filed under Freshly Pressed, Humor, Life

268 responses to “My Father the Madman

  1. I love, love, love this post. It’s such a beautiful capture of your dad, and your relationship with him.

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  4. Great post! We are linking to this great article on our
    site. Keep up the great writing.

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  6. beautiful tribute to your dad and I, too, have smooshed the silly putty into the comics

  7. Oh! I even missed your freshly pressed post, congrats, it’s well deserved :-) I’m a big fan of the show Madmen so I enjoyed your story a lot, what a lovely tribute :-)
    Ps: we do kind of have the same haircut! I think my hair is curlier but it’s close!

  8. I love stories about fathers. How exciting for your family that something your dad designed is still nationally known! Loved the pictures, too (I can spend hours looking at ‘old’ pictures…one of my favorite things to do…whether it’s my family or not).

    Glad I’m not the only one who had big hair in the 80’s. I got my first curly perm as a teen (like I didn’t have enough hair to deal with already!). I took big hair to an entirely new level. Let’s just say that to look good, it had to be wet…or weighted down with a gallon of hair spray. :)

    • I love old photos too! I would love to get all of my parent’s photos scanned. And the slides!!! There are 1000’s of them.

      That photo doesn’t do my “do” justice! I probably rode my bike to work that day. I could wrangle a curling iron like no other. “Notice all the damage?” Lol!
      Thanks for reading Kristy!

      • I scanned a lot of my parents pictures. The only problem is, I was doing 4-6 per scan and I wish I’d done them individually (I will do it that way someday).

        Funny about the hair damage. In the few pics people snapped of me, you can see it from the perms…very similar to curling iron damage (had that, too, lol).

  9. I love posts like this. They remind me of my Dad.
    Not quite ready to write anything about my Dad yet…but this definitely inspires me! :)

  10. Cindy Wu

    This was nice..

  11. Ah… this is awesome! Go dad! And the look… passed down from my mother to myself and now on to my daughter. ;)

  12. A wonderful post and tribute to your father… such wonderful memories you will have always!

    My papa smoked a pipe too… still does. Whenever I get a whiff of cherry pipe tobacco, it always takes me back to when I was a little girl.

    Great pic of you and your 80’s ‘do’! Do you think big hair will ever come back?

    • Thank you so much Veronica! I think it is wonderful that we share the same memories of our fathers smoking pipes! I know what you mean about the smell taking you back!
      I hope “big hair” doesn’t make a comeback, but you never know! :)

  13. Great post honoring your dad and congrats that it’s freshly pressed!

  14. How did I miss that this post was freshly pressed! Congratualtions! Now for another blog party… woohoo!! :)

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  16. Love this. Love the story of a real mad man. A great Freshly Pressed post. Congrats.

    • Thanks so much Muddledmom! I am so glad you came by to read.
      He really was a “madman.” When I watch the show I can see how well they capture the era even though I was really young!
      Stop by again soon~

  17. Congrats to your making freshly pressed Susie! well deserved and awesome post :) :)

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  19. Wonderful piece, Susie!
    The title alone was worth the price of admission.. as they say!

  20. Susie, I love how you write and live.. this is so beautiful ..

    “children should be seen and not heard at the dinner table.” – I was also raised like that ..

    kids of today are too spoiled, demanding and too damn loud !

  21. This is really well written, I loved how you described your father smoking his pipe at the start. Very vivid!

  22. simplymeladyg

    Really enjoyed reading this Susie! It kinda stirred something in me that inspired me to write a post of my own. Heres the link if you ever care to read. Blessings!

  23. Great post Susie! Freshly pressed has become very common for your blog now a days.

  24. In tutte le tue parole si sente forte, fortissimo, l’amore per tuo padre e l’importanza che avuto nella tua vita. Donna fortunata!

    • Thanks so much for that Nicola! I am very lucky to have both father and a friend. He was thrilled that I wrote about him. It brought back so many memories. :)
      I hope you will stop by again soon!

  25. I loved getting to know your dad via your words. Great story!

  26. It is a long post but I kept reading it :)

  27. Father : Friend, Angel, Teacher, Hero, Enigma, Rockstar

  28. Alyssa

    Your dad is brilliant and you just gave me an idea to blog about my dad, my hero. Thanks for sharing your story with your dad. :)

    colorado springs divorce lawyers

  29. This was such a lovely memoir for your Dad.. it was fun seeing your older photos as well.. you were a little cutie! And your Dad looks so young in that first photo.. isn’t it amazing how fast time goes by?! I hope you enjoyed your Father’s Day! xo Smidge

    • Thanks so much Smidge!
      We did have a great day and even though my father is back in Wisconsin, we spoke a couple times on the phone. He loved the article!
      Have a wonderful week!

  30. Hi Susie! I’ve tagged you for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Congratulations!

  31. Anonymous

    That was a very sweet homage to your father.
    He must be so proud of you!
    The part where he teared up when you moved out hit my soft spot for sure.

  32. What a beautiful tribute to your father. He did a great job, Colorado.

    • Thanks so much Cayman! That is so nice of you to say!
      He will love reading these comments. I am going to print them out and send them to him. :)
      I am looking forward to the next installment of your flash fiction!

  33. riatarded

    This made me laugh and cry! Give your dad a big hug! Happy Father’s Day to him!

    • Awww! Thanks so much. I am glad it touched you in that way. He is back in Wisconsin so I gave him several virtual hugs today!
      I will be printing this out with all of these comments and will send it to him. He will love it!

  34. You made my [long, lonely, melancholy] day! Great narration, and inviting for us all to feel a little better. And congrats on PF!
    I was not able to enjoy my dad on Fathers’ Day this year again; that’s perhaps why last night I barely got any sleep until I sat down to write out an idea for my blog this morning -even when I was unaware of the connection till I had finished it.
    Whoever feels like going over what could also be read as an elderly child’s unwiling farewell to their dad, here’s the link:

    • I think what you are saying is your dad has passed away. That makes this day especially hard especially when you may still have something to say. I am lucky in that I have written this for my dad and he can enjoy it.

      I think is still fantastic that you wrote something for him! I am sure he would be proud. A very beautiful poem indeed.

  35. this was awesome, susie, i loved it. a really interesting story about your dad. and that woman who bought your art as a kid for the frame was an a-hole. she should’ve lied and said your piece was a masterpiece. i mean who does that to a kid?! anyway, loved it. so interesting and congrats on the fp. xo, sm

    • Thanks so much! You crack me up! I am still laughing at your comment about the nasty woman. I can’t believe how stupid she was… some people!
      I really appreciate that you stopped by to read it!

  36. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed Susie!! Well done. Great post as usual. Hope you get lots of new fans from this.

  37. Great post for Father’s Day. Being an oil painter myself, I especially enjoyed picturing your family picnicking and painting by the lake. Truly all-American. Congratulations on being ” freshly pressed.” :) – Amanda

  38. I really hope your father ready your amazing tribute and had one of the best father’s days. Thanks for sharing, it really is a great (and well written!) story!

    • I read it to him on Friday and he loved it! It brought back many great memories for both of us. Even though my parents were “kidless” today, I spoke with them several times and they had a great day! My mom made a fantastic dinner and appetizers and they watched a 15 inning Brewer game!
      Thank you so very much. I really appreciate your kind words!

  39. Corey

    Yet another beautiful post Susie. I’m spending the weekend at the beach with my dad and stepmom, hopefully creating some memories that stay with me a long time. Did someone say this got Freshly Pressed? Awesome!

    • Thank you so much Corey! I am glad that you are back in the blogosphere!
      They did say that! I am still in shock and I’ve had the whole weekend to absorb it.
      I am sure you will create some of those moments. They happen when you aren’t even aware!
      Did you get over that nasty sunburn????

  40. you write beautifully. thanks for sharing!

  41. Long-Distance Dad

    Great post about your father. The pipe brings back memories of my grandfather… that sweet smell and the soft pip-pip of his lips puffing on the stem. The relationship with my dad is not as poetic or satisfying, but I’m “fixing it forward” by being a loving, supporting dad to my surrogate son in South Africa. Check out our story… And I looked forward to reading more of your posts… glad you got Pressed!

    • Thank you so much Long distance Dad!
      Oh yah! I remember that sound too now that you mention it. Thanks so much for that reminder. :) I will check out your story too!
      Thanks again!

  42. Hey! What a great tribute to your dad. That is very cool about the insurance logo. Whenever I think of my granddaddy, I swear I can smell the smoke from his pipe tobacco or (later) his “chaw” as I kissed him. Lasting memories of our father-figures are wonderful, aren’t they? And welcome to the FP party (as well as congrats with a post obviously worthy of such a prize). I’m sure you all are having fun with it, especially on Father’s Day weekend!!

    • Thanks so much Shannon for joining in the fun! It has been quite a weekend! Those lasting warm memories are the best. :) Thank you so much. Have you been “pressed?” It sounds like you have!

      • Yes, a crazy weekend indeed. So glad it’s been fun for you! My blog? Pressed? Heck — there’s not even a topic for “Gardening” and “Sustainability” which is where I lie; not terribly entertaining for the masses. I would be shocked if any of my posts ever got FP’d. Seriously.

        • On the dashboard at the bottom there is a place for most viewed, etc. and there is a category for green! I have seen several nature and garden posts get pressed so you never know!

  43. It sounds as if you had a very good childhood. I remember when I was about 6 years old my father bought some elementary French books for beginners and we would sit learning French together. I can also remember sometimes in the evening when I was supposed to be asleep going downstairs when I heard everyone talking and I would pretend to be thirsty and would be allowed to sit on my father’s lap listening to the conversation. My elder sister wasn’t happy because she thought I was one of the “little ones” and was taking part of her privilege away by being allowed to stay up.
    I really enjoyed reading about your father.

  44. This was beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  45. You got “freshly pressed!” How cool! I can say I knew you when… :-) Wonderful tribute to your dad. Excellent writing as usual.

  46. M.

    How lucky are you to still have your dad around.

  47. Love it when a blog I follow is freshly pressed – congrats Susie yay!

  48. Wow. How awesome are you? This was a great post about your Dad. Awwww those science projects what a blast from the past. It was also nice to hear that you had things in common with your dad, like art. It always brings you closer. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, what a great gift to tell your dad…he helped you get to the front page! Although you’re a great writer I don’t think you need anyone’s help :)

    • Guat you just gave me shivers and tears have welled up in my eyes! What a nice friend you are. Thank you so much for your kind words!

      My dad did help me in so many ways. Being FP’d is a great gift for him too! I am sending him a screenprint of the front page and copy of the story. Thank you so much again and have a wonderful Sunday and week!

  49. Karen McFarland

    The ride was great Susie!

    I too was raised in the “kids should be seen and not heard” generation. Oh how those were different times. I can’t imagine doing that to my kids. And I also remember the “Madmen” parties at our home with the martinis and cigarettes. The smoke would get to thick that my siblings and I would get down on our hands and knees in order to breathe. I hated it. Thankfully, your Dad is still with you. Mine died twelve years ago from…lung cancer. Yep. And he had stopped smoking years before. I guess sometimes that doesn’t matter. So enjoy your father as long as you can Susie. I miss mine.

    • I am sorry to hear about your dad. I am sure you have many memories of him. Lung cancer has to be the worst!
      Luckily my parents really only smoked at parties and “the pipe” was only brought out on Sundays. He quit smoking it in the late 60’s. I wish I had one of them! I vaguely remember my mom putting them in a garage sale long ago. Maybe there still is one in the attic….Thanks so much Karen for sharing and I will take your advice!
      Have a wonderful Sunday with your family!

  50. Enjoyed your story!

    I do have a silly correction though: the colors on a printed page are actually nor Red, Yellow & Blue but rather CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & BlacK).

    Thanks for sharing…

  51. Any dad who will let his daughter see him cry is a very big hero to me! My dad and I shared really, really silly humour. It was never planned, but we often laughed ourselves to tears!

  52. It is always touch me to read article or story about the father. I enjoy reading this post, Happy Father’s day to your Father ….

  53. wow.sorry about your papa, but what a really cool tribute

  54. Hi Susie,
    What a great blog and tribute to your dad! I think your dad’s work would make great digital art!

    Thanks for sharing.

  55. That’s cool! And I love the old pics!

    Courtney Hosny

  56. fastcook

    The ride was great. Your dad sounds great. What a great way to give him a tribute – and maybe also – a tribute to all of our dads.

  57. Lovely story, and congrats on being freshly pressed. My father passed away days before my seventeenth birthday. He was a young thirty-nine. I like to believe that would have enjoyed knowing him as an adult, and truly enjoyed reading about your continuing relationship with your father.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

    • Thank you so much! I am so sorry your dad’s life was cut short. I try to remember to be thankful for each day, even the not so great ones! :)
      I am so glad you stopped by today!

  58. Oh crap! I just make a new friend and now she’s catapulted into a different stratosphere by being freshly pressed. Well, I guess congrats are in order but us little people will miss you. Now there will probably never be another party. Or if there is maybe I could be invited to serve your guests? You know, those hangers-on who only want to bask in the glow of your new found magnificence? I could do that!

  59. Great post. Yeah seen and not heard…..i still havent figured how to accomplish that lol awesome stories

  60. Sandy B.

    Great post. This is the first Father’s Day that I have to celebrate without my “Madman” dad. Thanks for recollections of your life with dad. My dad and yours seem to be cut from the same cloth. I almost cried when I read the part where you realized that your dad considered you his friend….My dad was my best friend and I didn’t really realize it until he was gone. I miss my daily chats with him. Hug your dad and never take his love and friendship for granted.

    • I am so sorry Sandy B! I do think it’s the memories that are so important. I live in Boulder and my parents live outside of Madison, WI so we don’t get to see each other very often. We do talk on the phone and he has given me all kinds of encouragement and ideas with my writing! Sounds like your dad was very creative too. Maybe you can write about him!
      Thanks so much for coming by to read today!

  61. Confrats for making Freshly Pressed Susie, am thrilled for you.

  62. Hug that dad! Bet he still cheers you on.
    (Weren’t those painted bill boards fun to watch in progress?)
    Terrific memory trip

    • I will have to given him a virtual hug tomorrow! He does cheer me on.
      I can’t believe I found that photo of my dad and brother on that sketchy scaffolding! My parents have all the family photos so I don’t know how I ended up with it! PERFECT!
      Thanks so much for stopping by to read and have a great weekend too!

  63. Our parents are amazing, unfortunately it takes a while to realize how amazing they truly are. I was in awe of my dad who was amazing in his own way. He passed almost three years ago and I think of him often, it sounds like you think of your dad often, too. Have a great day – make it count.

    • I am sorry to hear about your dad. We are lucky to have those great memories! I didn’t realize how wonderful my life was until I went to college and met those that didn’t come from a happy home.
      You are right about making it count. I try to remember that every day!
      Thanks so much Clay and have a great weekend!

  64. I really love this post, happy fathers day to dad’s out there :-)

  65. happy father’s day to your dad! :) mine just left a month ago, but happy father’s day to him too. :)

  66. Your father sounds like an incredible guy. You are both lucky to have one another. I have no doubt that you are a solid chip off the old block. Again, congratulations on the FP and I think you are both famous! :D

    • Thanks so much Debra! He is an incredible guy! I have learned and continue to learn a lot from my dad. Being FP’d was especially sweet since the story was all about him!

  67. Anonymous

    Great post! :)

  68. I really enjoyed this post!!! :)

  69. OMG..those art and science projects! I remember doing them and I remember, as well, being the parent helping my child do them. Now, that I think about it, I kind of miss the experience. Thanks for bringing up an old memory. You Matter! Smiles, Nancy

    • Hi Nancy! Those projects could be so much fun when done with the right kind of attitude. My dad had infinite patience so I always looked forward to the projects we worked on together!
      You matter too! Thanks so much!

  70. A wonderful post and tribute to your Dad! Pretty neat to hear about the origin of the AFI logo. Very nice memories shared!

    • Thanks Victoria! My dad was touched when I read it to him. There is a brochure that the agency made for AFI with photos of the billboard they installed. I will have to do a follow-up post! I bet the photos are the best!

  71. lynnkelleyauthor

    Bravo, Susie! I love this post about your dad, your family, and your treasured memories. Great photos of darling little Susie and young Susie the artist. So much fun walking down memory lane with you. We used to put Silly Putty on the comics, too. Both my parents smoked and we seem to have been brought up in the same generation. Ah, the good old days! Since I’m on Blogger, I don’t know who gets FP, but I saw Alarna’s comment congratulating you, so yay for you. Was it this post or another one? I think this one’s a winner, for sure. Have a wonderful weekend, Queen of the Tennis Courts! :)

    • Thank you so much Lynn! You are so sweet! It was this post. A real shocker! I ran around the house screaming with the dog barking at my heels… :)

      I really wanted to get it out there since my dad has never gotten any recognition. I don’t even think their friend’s know about his accomplishments since he is so humble!

      He was so happy when I told him the news! I read it to him yesterday!

      You have a great weekend too Lynn! Thanks so much for all of your support. I really appreciate it! Arts and Crafts Queen! Can’t wait to see what you have been working on lately!

  72. A great tribute to your dad! Congratulations on being freshly pressed. :)

  73. Hey Susie! Congrats on being FP…and thanks for the beautiful post. I LOVE Madmen, and that’s a special relationship you have. My Dad is an old fashioned builder all-rounder…used to draw plans by hand, and a bit of an amateur inventor too. I’ve only realised in adulthood we share a lot of creative connections and I wish I could have worked alongside him growing up. Alas, girls didn’t get to do those things…Have a great weekend :)

    • How cool is a builder and an inventor! Wow! It really amazes me to see the genetics that are handed down. I see a lot of my dad in my son now too. I hope you write about your dad and his inventions!
      Thank you so much Alarna and have a wonderful weekend!

  74. What a brilliant post! I am so glad I came by tonight…a super read, indeed!

    • Thanks so much and for coming by from the Emerald Isle! You look chilly in your avatar. :) We took the kids and my mom and dad to Ireland in 2001! Fantabulous! I hope to go back some day!

  75. Thank you for sharing a bit of your memories with us, Susie. I love looking back at personal history.

  76. Hi,
    A fantastic post and a lovely tribute to your Dad, and I loved the photos. :)
    I think it’s great that your Dad’s idea for the insurance company is still going strong after such a long time, you certainly don’t see a lot of that today, company’s change their signs and logos a lot it seems these days. :)

    • That is so true that they do usually change over the years. American Family considered changing it back in the 70’s, but decided against it since people had such a strong association with that red roof!
      Thank you so very much Mags and have a fantabulous weekend!

  77. yeah to him and all he did and yeah to you for following in his footsteps

  78. What a wonderful post. And a lovely Father’s Day Tribute. Makes me think about how much I love my own dad. :) Though the smoke rings make me think of Gandalf the Gray in Lord of the Rings. Those powerful, pensive moments when one must puff on a pipe to find hidden answers and the meanings of life. Congratulations on your Freshly Pressed award. You ROCK!!

    • Thanks so much Sophie! I so appreciate that!
      I always think of my dad that way too! He is a thinker not impulsive like me!
      I am glad that it reminded you of your own relationship with your dad!

      Thanks again friend!

  79. Okay, now we learn she has some Badger in her! :)

    Love these posts on dads. He seems very special. So great that you got a lot of help from your dad. There were seven of us all a year apart and both parents were spread way too thin. But I had a great childhood, nonetheless.

    I can’t believe he did that logo. I’m a huge fan of art and illustration is such an awesome segment of art. And I’m a total fan of advertising.

    • Thanks MJ! One year apart???? Your poor mother… She must have been exhausted, but it sounds like a happy childhood and I bet with so many siblings, you had a blast!
      He did and he is so humble about it that I doubt any of their friends know about it!
      Have a great weekend you Husker you!

  80. Me again, had to tell you congrats on the FP!! Well deserved, Susie! You and Paul on the same day, crazy week, huh? Cheers to you!

    • Thanks so much! You are so sweet to come back! I know between Jules, Angie Z Byronic Man and Paul it has been crazy!
      Virtual champagne party starts now! Or should we have martinis….Here is your glass! Bottoms up!

  81. Ah! A heritage of creativity!!! It’s so personal and tangible.Lovely pics too.Thanks for sharing this very sentimental family story!

  82. Ah! a heritage of creativity!!!Thanks for sharing.It’s so personal and tangible.Lovely pics!

  83. Congrats on being FP – YAY!!!

  84. Sarah D.

    Lovely story and tribute to your father.

    I do remember those projects! But I always did mine on my own, without parental assistance. The favorites I remember are an igloo made of carefully carved styrofoam blocks and, best of all, a suit of armor made of cardboard, worn by my Ken doll. If he still exists, he’s probably still wearing it, as I didn’t devise a way to take it off. The helmet had a visor that moved up and down, the chain mail was crocheted string, and the knees and elbows were, unlike Ken, hinged to move. It was all spray-painted silver. Oh, that I could do so well again!

    • They sound like works of art! Wow! I always wanted to make the igloo. Somehow that one escaped me. I remember seeing them made of sugar cubes back in the day.
      You should be proud that you did them by yourself! That is so cool! I am sure you are still capable of a lot of creativity. :)
      Thanks so much!

  85. I really enjoyed reading this, Susie. It sort of made me cry, but my excuse is that I’m really, really sick this week and can’t control myself. My daddy always said, “Catie, try harder. Do better.” He always told me to put up my fists and fight, to never back down. Anyway, without rambling on too much, my father influenced who I became as an adult just like your dad influenced you. :D

    • My husband Danny cried when he read it this morning and so did I when I read it to my parents!
      Sounds like your dad taught you a lot! Especially since as women we usually hear the opposite!
      I hope you are feeling better! Thanks so much!

  86. Congrats, Susie! Well deserved. And what a crazy past week of bloggers I know up there! This piece was as fascinating to read as it was sweet and charming. I loved the art and history and I squirmed when that thoughtless woman gave you back your drawing from the frame ;). What a dad!

  87. Wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing your tribute to your father. Be thankful you still have him with you. I miss my dad very much.

    • Oh I am sorry to hear that he is no longer with you. I am sure that you have some wonderful memories of him. Maybe you can write something sometime….
      Thank you so much for stopping by and have a terrific weekend!

  88. Susie, I know FOUR people on the Freshly Pressed page right now – this is AWESOME! Congrats! You deserve it :)

    • Thank you so much and congratulations to you! You, Good Greatsby and Byronic Man Rock! What a wild weekend this will be. I am in the best of company. :) We will have to do a virtual toast during tonight’s happy hour!

    • I know! It’s like a little get together on the FP page! If we could get together for real we’d have to get a celebratory drink. Congratulations, Susie!

      • Congrats to you too! Maybe some day we will! Thanks so much.
        Your suggestion to write tear-stained letters must have worked… :)
        We will have to meet everyone tomorrow for a virtual happy hour! 5:00 Mountain time!

  89. Roshni

    Loved reading this post. It reminded me of of my dad, how he used to help me with writing essays and speeches…and yes, on those assignments for school. :) Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    • I am so glad it brought back some wonderful memories for you! We are lucky to have had great dads at home to help us.
      Thank you so much! I am still pinching myself!

  90. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed — and for such a great post! Love it…

    I can’t believe that logo hasn’t changed. I used to work at an ad agency, and I can tell you that clients love changing logos just as much as they like telling designers “Can we just make the logo bigger?” That’s true testament to his skill…

    • Thank you so much Mikalee! I still can’t believe it. I just got off the phone with my dad who is thrilled!
      American Family considered changing the logo sometime in the 1970’s, but there was such a strong recognition among customers they decided not to. The logo is everywhere! I have been trying to get American Family to interview him and maybe now they will!

  91. Susie, you’ve inspired me to make my own blog about my Dad in honour of Father’s Day. Thank you!

  92. You’ve just inspired me to write my own blog about my Dad in honour of Father’s Day. :)

  93. Wonderful story, Susie. With my dad it was learning to work with my hands to build or repair things. Even after I went to school and later worked in management, we could always reconnect under the hood of a car. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aren’t those the best memories? My dad is still the MacGyver of the family and now I can see that strong genetic link with my son.
      It is wonderful to have something in common!

  94. Coleen Patrick

    So enjoyed this story Susie!
    I remember my dad helping me make a complete replica of a civil war battle–complete with mini military men that we painted. :)

  95. Glad you enjoyed your art projects. I always hated them, because I don’t have an ounce of artist in me – at least not the drawing kind of artist.

  96. I love your reminiscences about your youth and your dad. I was always drawing as a kid, but I do not recall any major school art projects. I went to a Catholic school (for 12 years — atheist-training) so maybe that had something to do with it. I wanted to be a cartoonist. For years my mom enrolled me in a teenage animated film workshop at SF’s then-called Museum of Art (it’s now called the Museum of Modern Art), but only my dad would attend our screenings. I think my mom just liked having me out of the house, but my dad was the one that was truly interested in seeing my films. When I was up for an award and came in second, he pitched a fit. That was cool. Very cool.

    • 2nd place? That is fantastic! I went to Catholic school for 12 years too! Mine must have loved those art projects. :) I am glad it brought back warm memories for you!
      Do you still work on your cartoons? They are really popular~
      Thanks so much!

  97. Susie, what a great talent to share with your dad. And what an exciting and creative life he must’ve led. While I don’t watch Madmen, I’ve often thought a career in advertising would be so much fun. Happy Father’s Day to your Dad!

    • Thank you so much Sheila! It still is! Advertising could be a very stressful career, but my dad is so even keeled so he could motor through any project! He had the perfect personality type for it.
      I will pass that along to my dad!
      Thanks again!

  98. Susie first of all a big warm hug :)
    I love memoirs,i just love them..and this was such a beautiful write up i had tears in my eyes reading it..i remembered all those times when i and dad made projects for my school..specially a working module of refrigerator..
    oh we have been so lucky so lucky to have such lovely parents..
    And you Dad is awesome( sorry had to use that word)…that Logo is famous…
    beautiful shots of a lovely family. You dad was a passionate Man and you have that passion too,in everything you do,living the life to the fullest,enjoying every moment giving the best shot possible..
    what a lovely Tribute to your Dad..
    love n hugs :)

    • Now you brought tears to my eyes Soma! Wow! Thank you so much my friend!
      We are lucky to have been raised by loving parents. A refrigerator module???? Now there’s a project. I love it!
      Love and hugs right back atcha!

  99. Poignant and beautiful. Welled me up with tears thinking about my relationship with my Dad.

  100. Beautiful post – thanks for sharing your dad! Growing up my dad was the Coach and my mom was the Creative Director and it work perfectly:) Have a Wonderful Weekend!

  101. Your dad sounds like a fascinating man! Mad Man! Wow, I am really impressed with his work (and yours!) I hope he has a wonderful Father’s Day.

  102. Your relationship with your dad sounds amazing Susie. How lucky you are to have him in your life now and in the past.

    • I am so very lucky! He is like a cat with 19 lives! He has had more than a few close calls…. He is amazing and I am proud to be his daugher.
      Thanks for reading Louise!

  103. So cool! What great memories of your childhood. And sounds like your dad is a pretty awesome guy!

    • He really is! I talked to him yesterday and loved this post. That was before I changed the title. Heehee! My parents have the first season of Madmen but haven’t watched it yet… :)
      Thanks for reading Audrey!

  104. Such bittersweet memories – love this post and your dad, and his pipe!

  105. What happened to Wild Thing? This is one your best posts, Susie… for me anyway. Straight from the heart never hurts. Lots of memories evoked reading this one.

    • She is still here and wilder than ever, but I thought I would share this instead of the usual flash fiction. That is so sweet of you to say Ted! I am glad it touched you!
      Have a grandiose weekend! (still haven’t used the word awesome.)

  106. Wonderful early memories of you and your dad together. I enjoyed reading and thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend, Susie.

  107. Fabulous post, Susie! You and your dad must be so proud of and grateful for each other.

    Art is a strong and special bond–one that, as you know, I share with my brother, him with paints, me with words. My parents helped me by encouraging passion-following.

    Happy Fathers Day, talented lady! :)

    • Thank you so much August. I knew you could relate and you are also a talented musician don’t forget! Your parents sound wonderful too. We are very lucky. :) Have a fab weekend!

  108. Now that is a story, wonderful tribute. Hopefully he reads your blog! I have many memories of my own children, maybe someday they will have a memory such as this to be so touching. All in the name of love I’d say ;)
    Btw I remember actual conversations that shaped my life which I had with my dad.

  109. I’m impressed by your ability ot write this lovely, humorous post about your Dad and your relationship with him. It’s a testimony to your writing abilities for you to write about something sweet and sentimental without being sweet and sentimental.

    • Wow! Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate that!

      I have a wonderful and humble Dad who has never been given credit for what he has accomplished, so I thought it would be a fun way to do that for him. :)

  110. Susie, great tribute and you know how much I love your art.
    I hope he loves this.
    My dad is long gone and never appreciated anyone that was creative..
    You are so lucky

  111. Wonderful post Suisie, how exciting that your dad was famous for fabulous art work that loads of people saw. Too bad about your art project. Grass! ;)

    • He is not famous at all! I have tried to get American Family to interview him since their HQ is in Madison. He is a really humble man and I would bet that none of my parent’s friends know either!
      Thanks Catherine! It was no fun being ratted out! :)

  112. I really enjoyed this post. My Dad also had the look that could pulverize your thoughts while they were still in the making… :-)

  113. That was a great ride, Susie! I do remember seeing that logo too, great job. Love your hair in the desk photo, very 80’s indeed. I think you should find the kid whom made the crack about your artwork and smack him! Are fish really color blind? ;)

    • I used lots of hairspray and a curling iron to get my hair to look so “perfectly 80’s” John! :) I was trying to remember who ratted me out and I think it was a girl from my “circle of friends.” Tattletale!
      By the way, fish are not color blind! Cool eh???
      Thanks so much for reading John and have a terrific weekend!

  114. What a great tribute to your father, Susie. And I love that photo of you from the 80s. How fun! Hope you have a lovely weekend. And happy Father’s Day to the original mad man!

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