Cancer took Dad in August 2001.

I don’t want to do the arithmetic on how long ago that was.

Yet I did.

Where is that point of the trailing off of grief and the acceptance of the norm where your parent is gone? It’s not defined at all

I think of him when the calendar reminds me of his birthday or anniversary. I think of him when I am uttering in the yard. I think if him scowling a bit that I do not wash my vehicle on Saturdays like he religiously did. I think of him sometimes when I walk in my shed; are my tools as neatly organized as his basement? That sounds like a lot, actually long stretches of days, weeks go by and he’s at the back of the cortex.

Then there is this photo.

That’s Dad’s Realistic Patrolman 6 radio. I do not exactly remember when he bought it, but I do remember sitting with him as he tried to zero in on the police calls on the VHF lo bands. Maybe we would catch someone far away on the shortwave. Or just static. I think he rationalized having it for “emergencies”. If anything, Dad was prepared.

I think the radio got more use playing FM on the beach on our annual vacations in Ocean City Maryland. That photo at the top of this post is Dad on the beach there in 1981.

Then I do more math. In about 15 months I will be the same age he was then.

That is something that bends my universe.

But back to that radio photo. That was taken in 2011, maybe a week after my Mom had passed away — 10 years to the day Dad went. My sisters and I were at her home seeing what we had to organize. There were so many memory objects. Funny (the wall calendar) and sad (the cookies hidden under a puzzle box).

The “radio” was tucked away in the closet Mom used to take shelter in hurricanes. I took the photo just to have the image of a thing that tied me to a time when they were both here.

For some reason that photo of of Dad’s old radio on flickr has been viewed almost 43,000 times.

That’s crazy. I have no idea why. It’s kind of retro.

And thus I get the Dad reminders when someone favorites it in flickr, or as recently, someone commented they were using it in article.

Dad might not understand exactly flickr was, but he would get a big kick that 43,000 people from different corners of the world looked at his radio. He would get a bigger kick that I am writing about it.

I tried looking up some info on the radio model, and did find an entry in a radio museum site. But almost every other link or image I found was on ebay and other sites that sell old radios.

Where are the Patrolman 6 radio stories?

Well now there is one.

And with great irony, as I am writing about an old radio, my music shuffle brings up a favorite song Getting in Tune by the Who:

I’m singing this note ’cause it fits in well
With the chords I’m playing
I can’t pretend there’s any meaning here
Or in the things I’m saying

But I’m in tune
Right in tune
I’m in tune
And I’m gonna tune
Right in on you
Right in on you
Right in on you

That could be coming from that old radio. From long ago.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. The gifts we get from our parents are both bidden and unbidden. And we get more gifts from them than anyone else–if we are lucky. I remember a cardboard box of bolts and sprangs and connecting hardware of all sorts that my dad gave me. He handed them over to me and said, “Here, you might need these.” Damned straight I needed them. Nice to hear you storying out loud. Nice.

  2. Beautifully remembered and written.
    I passed the age my dad died way back on 2002. He lives with me in the 5000 slides of his I am curating. In them I see his developing artistic eye, what he loved most, what he was striving to get right in his world.
    Mom is turning 91 next week. Your post urges me to call her today to say I love you, for time is short when we’re together and long when we’re alone.

  3. Hi Alan
    I changed my life when I reached the age when my dad had suddenly died.
    I grew up in LA in the 60s. It was like facebook is now, we heard about every death in the media. From JFK, MLK and RFK to James, Jimi, Jim and Janice (to quote the deceased Jim Carroll); All the People who Died, Died.
    I always assumed that I would die in a car crash like James Dean or later, a hydrogen explosion. (As a scientific glassblower, I wanted to be close to any industrial explosion and not live after being maimed.) Now retired, I’m changing my life once more by returning to school.
    After working 20 years in Silicon Valley to help build the physical infrastructure of the WWW, I’m now trying to figure out how connect, share and dialog about all my learning experiences digitally.
    Best Regards

  4. I woke this morning and opened my twitter feed to find this beautifully written tribute. Thanks for sharing (and for the early morning cry). I lost my father a month after you, same year. Although I never knew your father, from your description I can see him shaking his head in wonder at thought of the “stir” his old radio is causing on the internet. My dad, a reserved, quiet guy, would, too, find it hard to believe the world commemorates the day he died….that his name is now carved in stone on a permanent monument over the place he once worked…that his image can be beamed onto a large screen in an underground museum with the touch of a button. Life is funny.

  5. What a beautiful thread between the memory of sitting with your Dad zeroing in on old VHF lo bands, to the wonder of his radio being a viral retro-photo object. I started to imagine you there with him in 1981. It is funny how old objects can sometimes be the most powerful talisman to remembrance of things past. You look like your Dad you know. Thanks for this glimpse of what makes you you.

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