Craven: Fathers and Sons

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(Host) Commentator Jay Craven is a filmmaker and Marlboro College teacher. With a son home for just a couple of weeks, he finds himself already thinking about Father’s Day.

(Craven) My most vivid Father’s Day memory, growing up, comes from the year shortly after my mother married my stepfather. My own father disappeared when I was six, and I was hoping to impress my new dad. I’d found a supply of watercress growing in a spring out behind our house – and I cut it into bunches that I biked eight miles into town, where the local A&P paid me twelve cents a bunch. After a few trips in, with my watercress wrapped in wet paper towels to keep it fresh, I earned the five bucks I needed to buy my step-dad a new pair of shoes. At the time, I wanted this to be an important and very personal gift.

These days, I find myself taking the moment of Father’s Day to reflect on how my two boys are doing. I’m proud of both of them – and pleased to have played a role in helping them find stimulating lives as young men. My oldest son, Sascha, writes and edits comedy – and we’re about to collaborate on a new edition of our radio comedy show for this year’s Nantucket Film Festival. My younger boy, Jasper, just finished his freshman year in college, where he’s been named associate editor of the daily student newspaper. I helped him get his start as an aspiring journalist at St. Johnsbury’s Caledonian Record, where his bi-weekly column became quite popular.

Jasper’s preparing for a summer internship in Washington – but he came home for several weeks that he’s used to help out around the house. He’s up on a ladder painting, and he’s fixing a few things, including the stairs onto our porch. He loves working with his hands – and I’ve had relatively little to do with that. But last summer he landed a job with his best friend’s dad, builder Greg Schoolcraft in Peacham. Jasper and his buddy Blake worked together, up at 6am and hard at it all day, till around five, when they’d take off for Adams Hole or Martin’s Pond for some swimming or fishing. With evenings lasting till 9pm, they’d sometimes help a local farmer with his haying, then run back for a final dip.

My older boy also found a buddy, growing up, who’s father introduced him to farm chores: feeding cows, tossing hay, and mucking out stables. Both my boys gained confidence and grew measurably from these experiences – and I’m very grateful to these other fathers for the roles they played mentoring my sons.

The same is true when they found coaches who were fair and male teachers who inspired them to love learning. So, this Father’s Day I’ll salute these other dads who have played a role in my sons’ development, who helped them broaden their experience and deepen their love for Vermont – and who introduced them to skills and ideas they continue to carry with them.

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