What Dad saw through his lens


Priceless Gems Pat Price


My dad, Walter Gorske, was the one not in the insurance business. His was the business of fishing!

After World War II he went into business with Ab Norling and founded the Oberlin Canteen Company. They made bait boxes, cricket cages, frog boxes, and all sort of interesting things.

Actually, Dad was a pretty interesting fellow in and of himself. He was entranced when Polaroid cameras came out, thrilled with the notion of getting instantaneous pictures. In the early days there were many levers and buttons and rarely did he succeed in getting them all pushed correctly.

Most notably was one of our trips to upstate New York where we vacationed at Twitchel Lake. We had to pack out our own garbage and take it to the dump. People were warned not to go at dusk because the bears would be prowling. That, of course, is exactly when Dad wanted to go.

He left all of us in the car with the motor running while he trekked inland to dispose of the garbage. Soon we saw him come barreling back to the car with a bear in hot pursuit. I had been directed to leave the back door open — he dove into the vehicle right over top of me and I quickly slammed the door before the bear could follow suit.

He was thrilled to have gotten an up close, personal shot of the bear with that Polaroid… only he had missed one of the levers. There was no picture, only memories and many admonishments from Mom.

Dad’s favorite chair always lulled him to sleep right after dinner. Mom and I would be trying to watch television, but his snoring often drowned out the dialogues. We went through a period when the channel would mysteriously change just as we would reach a particularly compelling part of whatever we were watching. Mom and I always yelled at him while he protested innocence. How could he have done it if he was so busy snoring?

It turned out that when our dog scratched, it jarred her choke chain collar and some atmospheric electrical phenomenon occurred that made the channel change. Dad was off the hook for that one.

My parents were two of the founding members of the Suburban Club back in the 1960s. Couples from all over town would get together for lavish dinner and dance parties. They frequented various locations, sometimes all getting on a bus in town in anticipation of arriving at a mystery destination.

All of the parties had themes and I remember going with Mom prior to one of them when they had decked out a hall to look like a cruise ship. Another time it was a costume party and Mom and Dad went as the Bobsey Twins. (Now that was something to behold!)

But Dad was the kind of guy who hated to do things and resisted vehemently, tormenting Mother about having to go each and every time Suburban Club came up. Squabbles would fill the house right up until it was time to leave. Ironically squabbles continued once they would come back home because Dad always had such a wonderful time, he would refuse to leave when Mother wanted to go! That’s just the way it always was.

Back in the 60s, my sister Pam lived all the way across the country in California. Our parents made two cross country driving trips to visit. (I was not able to go either time because of the Oberlin High School marching band practices. I was able to stay in town with my Aunt Helen and Uncle Chuck). The first time they took off in our station wagon with it filled to the brim with “stuff,” and wound their way through states they had never seen. They had a wonderful time.

The following summer, Mom planned a different route with a huge detour up into Canada to see Banff and Lake Louise. Dad was more than upset. For weeks he beefed about having to go so far out of his way. It wasn’t necessary. It was a waste of time and gas. Needless to say, once they returned to Ohio, all he could talk about was Banff and Lake Louise and how that area was the most beautiful that he had ever seen.

It’s hard to believe that their journey there was over 40 years ago. Finally, this June, Joe and I got there too. I could hardly wait to see what had enchanted him so.

I loved Banff (though, as you know, I couldn’t live there), and Lake Louise was frozen. We didn’t get to see the reflection of the mountains in the crystalline water that one sees on the postcards, but somehow it didn’t matter. I sat there on the bench gazing out over the lake. I knew that all those 40-plus years ago he sat there for hours because he loved the water — and that particular water, with the mountains majestically mirrored in it was, for him, a paradise.

He’s been gone now, unbelievably, for 33 years, but on that bench I felt closer to him than I have in years. It didn’t even matter that the damn lake was frozen.

Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to joeandpatprice@centurytel.net.

Priceless Gems Pat Price
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