The Dad Memory Fairies surrounded the small town of Durango, Colorado, one day in October. I know because I was there. It was an unusually warm day for the Southern Colorado area and a perfect day for shopping in historic downtown.
When my friend, Diane, was a child, her Dad would sing songs—some silly, some sweet—to her and her siblings. She and I often reminisce over hearing the same songs as we were growing up (especially “Chocolate Ice Cream Cone”). One song in particular became a sort of theme song for her and her Dad—“You Are My Sunshine.” Diane continued the tradition by singing it to her own children and now, to her grandchildren. This song could be a contributing factor to her love of the color yellow.
As I walked through a small home goods store that October day in Durango, Drawn to the back of the store (that’s where all the sales and clearance shelves are, right?), I examined all the little tchotchkes on the enticing shelves, finding nothing of interest to me and turned to head back to the front of the store. Something on the wall caught my eye as it was quite brightly colored. Cute, but not quite anything I needed. However, hanging right next to it was a plain-looking item that appeared to be made from old barn wood about 22 inches high. The words stenciled on it were “You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Gray.”
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.” 1
There are certain items that I associate with my Dad—a green mechanical pencil he always used, his light blue plaid Western shirt with pearl snaps and silver threads flowing through the fabric, and a pair of glass horse bookends2 that reared up to hold the journals and books on Dad’s desk, to name a few.
Antique markets are something I’ve always been drawn to, and that fairy-infused day in October was no exception. Walking through the cluttered shop, it brought back memories of my childhood and of stories my Grandmother Ada told of her own childhood. One of my friends along on the trip was looking for some ‘Dick and Jane’ books, so we filtered off into various booths in the shop with our book-hunt orders. One booth was filled with bookshelves along with pleasantly arranged tables adorned with books stacked or held up with bookends. One such table in particular caught my eye.
My Dad’s glass horse bookends were always packed carefully and accompanied me everywhere as I moved from place to place as an adult. They held up books for me as dutifully as they did for my Dad. One day, one of the horses fell to the floor and shattered in a Why-Did-I-Place-It-There incident. A tiny piece of my heart broke with it. The remaining horse appeared to feel the pain as well. I’ve found other glass horse bookends over the years, but they were never of the same mold and quality as my Dad’s.
Glass horse bookends proudly held up several books on the table in the antique store booth. I examined them carefully and my heart skipped a beat. The bookends were rescued from their temporary home at the antique shop, wrapped carefully, and traveled to their new home on my own bookshelf next to their new “brother,” the remaining horse of my Dad’s set. Sometimes, when the house is quiet, I believe I hear them from my office as they share stories of their adventures over the years. (Daddy, I think you’d enjoy their stories, and I miss you terribly.)
Thank you, Dad Memory Fairies, for your presence that lovely day in October.
1“You Are My Sunshine” authorship unclear: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Are_My_Sunshine
2 L.E. Smith pressed glass rearing glass horse bookends made in the 1940’s