Category Archives: Tosh Memorial Shield

One Lit Papa

Hope all you dads out there and the kids that adore you enjoyed a Happy Father’s Day.

To borrow a high rotation word from my teenage son’s vocabulary, my papa is totally ‘lit’. He’s a great role model who continues to inspire me in his fatherly ways. By my estimation, in the more than 40 years since I’ve left the nest, his daddishness has never wavered – once a dad, always a dad.

Father’s Day 2020 – Bob and Alex

On a recent afternoon visit to his house, a small paper booklet on a side table catches my eye. It’s an old, worn treasure with creases and faded ink, a scorecard from a model yachting regatta held nearly 70 years ago. On that day, in his hometown of Port Glasgow, Scotland, my dad was declared one of the the event’s champions. Asked if his dad had been there, he replied to the effect that yes, Alex had probably been his second that day.

Alex, my grandfather and namesake was an avid model yachtsman. His biggest win was a Commonwealth crown. On the local scene, he was the last to win the Port Glasgow Model Yacht Club’s Tosh Memorial Shield in 1952 when his handcrafted Fairy took the day.

Alexander Smith, Port Glasgow, Scotland – born 1904.

My dad accompanied him to these events as often as possible. Now, when he speaks lovingly of those times, he’s momentarily transported to races where he and Alex worked their not inconsiderable magic outmaneouvring all comers to conjure up another win on the water. Indelible memories navigating one generation to the next, the next, and next…

Hey papa, thanks from my younger self for all your encouragement and gentle pushing as I tried new things. You learned to ice skate so you could teach me. Your strong, steady hand on the back seat of my two-wheeler gave me confidence to push off unaided. Moments later, after shouting that I didn’t know how to stop, you sprinted to grab me making sure I wouldn’t tip over and fall. You volunteered to be Akela so the Cubs could do their best. At each step that I needed you, you were there.

Thanks too for investing a young boy with trust and allowing him to wander at large with friends by foot, bike and public transit. The kids only excursions to the swimming pool, the movies, the rink, the ravine, the dance were simple adventures that helped define our independence. As I got a little older, the canvas got larger and you let me loose to explore Paris, London and Edinburgh – exciting times for a 60s Toronto boy.

Dad and I with family car – 1966 Beaumont Acadian, ca 1968

Thanks for helping me to find my way from childhood to adulthood while preserving a child’s curiosity and sense of discovery. And last but by no means least, thanks for all the good examples, the tough lessons, the love and understanding that helped prep me for one of the best jobs of all time – being a dad.

We’ve got a few good laughs ahead of us still – may the adventures continue.