Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another year, a new endeavor

I ran this as a Letter from the Editor in both of my newspapers this week as a tribute to my Dad!
The term “Proud Papa” applies very much to my Dad, Gary Will. Since the day I was born, 25 years ago, he has been proud of me for various accomplishments, but he also has had a profound affect on my life. 
He was raised in Holyoke by French-Canadian and Polish parents. His father, Edward Will (fondly called Pop Pop), was an electrician, and well, you could say he wired the entire City – from the Holyoke mills to Holyoke Water Power and the Northfield Mountain Project. Pop Pop had a penchant for old things, which he promptly passed down to my Dad. I have since inherited that love for antiques.
I look back fondly on memories of being six, seven and eight years old, finding myself spending the weekends with Dad, venturing around the state and New England, in search of antique shops containing dusty heirlooms, once-prized possessions and long since forgotten paintings. “You break it, you buy it” was engrained into my brain, but it didn’t stop me from gingerly tracing my finger over old photographs, looking at Victorian children blankly staring back, or realizing the tattered, sweet-smelling novel titled “Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland” was the original version of the more familiar illustrated children’s book, “Alice in Wonderland.”
Our antiquing adventures were certainly not boring. Dad taught me how to recognize a real Raggedy Ann or Andy doll (identifiable with a hand-stitched heart on the body), which to this day has me awkwardly peering down any Raggedy doll I encounter, just to check. I learned how to recognize the American Fostoria pattern, something that Dad and his partner, Todd, collected together. This lesson, however, backfired, as I would then point out any piece found in the pattern – regardless if he already owned it or not. 
The Hadley Flea Market was my childhood stomping ground, as my Dad set up a booth to sell antiques. Like father, like daughter, I too wanted to sell my worldly possessions, and he helped me set up a box from which I sold books. I learned how to haggle pretty well and today can make a mean deal. 
As a child, Dad nurtured my love for books and readily supplied the demand I created. This trend continued in each direction I found myself growing. A love for music? I was furnished with a clarinet. A love for writing? Endless amounts of notebooks, journals and writing utensils came my way. My father nurtured my dreams, hopes and talents. 
As I grew, of course, they matured with me, but his endless support chartered the vessel of those dreams. Dad was beyond proud of me for graduating from college, thrilled to see me secure an internship and eventually land a professional job in the field I studied. Throughout all of these experiences, Dad effortlessly pushed me to follow my dreams.
Now, it’s my turn to be proud. On Thursday, July 21, he will have celebrated a birthday, but also, the fruition of his own dream – opening an antique shop. Recently he founded Main Street Antiques, in Belchertown, with a friend. His collections will now have a place to be displayed and he can devote all of his time to doing what he truly loves the most. Searching for treasures, interacting with those who share a similar love and being living proof that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Happy birthday, (times two!) Dad. I love you.

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