Happy Father’s Day from JMM!

For Father’s Day this year, (as we did for Mother’s Day) we asked our staff to share memories, stories, and thanks for the father-figures in their lives! Many of their responses are below – we invite you to share your memories and stories with us as well.

Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky:

Ever since I was a kid, my dad was my hero.

He served in the Coast Guard as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, saving lives for years. While it meant that sometimes he was deployed in far off places for extended periods of time, I always felt close to him. Thankfully, these days he’s retired from the military, so we get to see a lot more of him (though that doesn’t mean he’s stopped flying helicopters). From reading me The Hobbit to sitting with him while he played Tomb Raider to showing my brother and I The Evil Dead, my dad’s nerdiness and love for fantasy, video games, and movies has definitely passed down to me and we love to share our new favorites. Except for The Big Lebowski, sorry dad. He also taught me to always look for the evidence and think critically about what I hear, and to form my own opinion, despite what others try to convince me. And he taught me how to laugh at my own jokes, no matter how bad they are.

Whether playing with my stuffed animals or attending a Beer and Bourbon festival, my dad and I always have fun together, and I’m lucky that he’s been there for me my whole life. I look forward to more nights playing boardgames, having friendly debates, and enjoying a pint together.

Executive Director Marvin Pinkert:

Albert the Navigator…there are many fond memories I have of my dad.  Some of these center around our annual summer vacations.  Whether it was picking blueberries in Michigan, visiting the state capital in Springfield or just heading to the dunes in Indiana, our summer road trips were a true seasonal treat.  Weeks in advance, my father would contact the American Automobile Association for a TripTik and then begin meticulously planning each stop along the way.  When we actually got started I would deliver the predictable cry from the back seat “are we their yet?”.

My dad would typically respond with something like, “what’s 27 plus 34?’…thinking he was trying to figure out mileage I would dutifully execute the calculation.  After a few years it dawned on me that these were just random math problems designed to buy him a few minutes peace.

Museum Educator Allene Gutin:

My dad died 20 years ago on New Years Eve of 1999.  I have always believed that he died that night in particular so we would never forget the date.  He was like that.

There are many stories that I could tell about my father. He was a first generation American. He was a WWII vetran having fought in the South Pacific. He was a man with a restless soul. As a young man, he wanted to become a baseball player, but his father told him to become a roofer.  And so, the would- be ball player became a roofer, settled down with a pretty girl from Pennsylvania and together they raised 4 children. Still, all summer long he listened to or watched the Orioles. We all had baseball mitts and on nights when he wasn’t too tired, he would play catch with us. Nothing was better.

When my father died, his 4 children sat down and created a list of all of his sayings. He repeated these sayings very often which is why we remembered them so well.  We came up with 101 Melvinisms (his name was Melvin).  My favorite was, “If you get arrested, don’t call me, I’ll call you!” It must have worked, hearing that so often, because none of his baby boomer kids ever did get arrested.  I find myself using these Melvinisims quite often.  So do my kids. And they have never been arrested!

Melvin Gutin 1941 age 17

Shop Manager Chris Sniezek:

On Father’s Day, I would like to bring notice to my father, James Henry Sniezek Jr.

Born in Honolulu, HI, to a navy family, he moved around a lot as a child. Eventually, he ended up in Maryland where he attended the University of Maryland and earned his BS in Biology, an MS in Zoology, and a PhD in Zoology. It was in his PhD program that he met his future wife, my mother, Janet Norcross.  He began his career as a Lecturer at UMD and an Adjunct Professor at Frederick Community College. Throughout his career, he has worked at the University of Maryland, Montgomery College, and Frederick Community College while also participating in his three son’s sports programs (baseball, soccer, football, and hockey), volunteering in his community, often dedicating entire weekends to a volunteer project, and acting as PTA President for both Walkersville Elementary School and Walkersville Middle School (several years ago). All his hard work paid off when he was offered an interim Dean position and eventually became the fulltime Instructional Dean of all Montgomery College campuses where he currently presides over both the Chemical and Biological Science departments. It is from him I have inherited my workaholic and volunteerism attitudes which drive my everyday life. I often don’t feel complete unless my days are filled with some sort of activity, very similar to my father.

His drive and passion help inspire me to reach new heights in both my academic and non-academic work. He loves to teach which he meshes perfectly with a love of fishing. I have many memories of us sitting on the beach or on a boat waiting for a fish to nibble the line and once it did, him explaining how to identify which fish are which. In the unfortunate case a fish died, we would dissect it for an impromptu fish anatomy lesson.

In doing this, I learned to always incorporate what I love (history) into everything I do.

Volunteer Coordinator Wendy Davis:

My dad, Gordon Salganik, accomplished much during his almost 95 years.

My dad fought in Europe during WWII. That experience shaped his actions for the next 75 years.  Since he survived the war with barely a scratch, he thought it was a divine sign that he should devote his life to helping others. He was a regular Red Cross blood donor and carved out time for many volunteer responsibilities, often in a leadership role.

My dad helped run a family business and was home almost every night for a family dinner.

My dad kept in touch with his friends.

My dad was blessed to find love with two women, first my mom, and then after she died, my stepmom.

My dad expressed his appreciation for all he had.

This is my first Father’s Day without my dad. I will miss his tears that inevitably flowed when he read his Father’s Day cards and his broad grin when he did something silly. I will remember the times we shared and the stories he told.

Remembering my dad is a blessing.

This is my dad’s Camp Glyndon jacket that is now in the JMM collection (2016.034.001).  He was a leading supporter of the camp for diabetic children.

Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker:

For me, Father’s Day 2020 is poignant with absence. My dad, Jim Guy, passed away in 2013. He was not quite 63. I feel his absence especially in April, the month of his birth and his death, and in June, when the whole country talks about the importance of fathers. My daughter’s dad, my husband, David Guy-Decker, is a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy. He has been in Bahrain on assignment since November 2019. Through the magic of technology, we talk to him regularly and even see his face, but his physical absence is almost tangible. Before he left, we recorded him singing Shema on my phone so that his voice could still be a part of our bedtime ritual. It isn’t the same. Especially now, as the tragedies of 2020 unfold, we feel his absence daily. The ache of absence is not the only echo between Jim Guy and David Guy-Decker. I am happy to share with you some of the parallel with these two photos.

One is my dad with his nephew and his two daughters on his lap, circa 1981 (I am the older girl on the right, with my hand inexplicably in my mouth).
The second is of my husband with his daughter and his two nephews on his lap, circa 2017.

I hope you can see what I do, two men who love children and family. Two men I love. Two men I miss.

From that moment of nostalgia and love, I send you my warmest wishes for a meaningful Father’s Day, whatever your family structure might look like.

Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church:

I grew up just outside DC, and there were a lot of family trips to the Smithsonian – specifically Natural History or, more accurately from the point of view of my brother and I, the Elephant Museum. We enjoyed the giant elephant in the center, and the dinosaur skeletons and dioramas, but the chief attraction was the triceratops that lived outside.  (I am happy to report that Uncle Beazley has his own Wikipedia page.)  Yes, I know this is post is meant to have a Father’s Day theme, not Dinosaur Day, but since my dad was usually the one taking photos during my childhood, he doesn’t appear in them too often … one exception being the Elephant Museum field trips. In both memory and photo evidence, my dad was the leader of those journeys.

Here’s my dad and almost-three-year-old me heading to the tail end of the fiberglass triceratops (which, in those dangerous and golden days of the late 1970s, you could climb on. You see why we liked that part the best).

Archivist Lorie Rombro:

On Father’s Day I always think about my amazing grandfathers, I was incredibly lucky to have two wonderful but very different men who taught me about life, showed me never ending amounts of love and made me understand how important family is.

My sister and I with Grandpa Sol.

 Development and Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman:

My dad is a build-it dad. From our summer gardens full of string beans and tomatoes to handmade wooden furniture like lofted beds, blanket chests, and bookshelves, my dad is the person we turn to for advice when my brother or I have a project. My dad has many names. You can tell when in his life someone met him – childhood friends and family call him Butch (because of the haircut) or Eddie from is early adulthood days, to Ed for more recent acquaintances (though I don’t think I’ve EVER heard anyone call him Edward…). My dad is an outdoors dad. From softball to golf to skiing, every season has something to get him outside and moving around (not to mention the snow shoveling, wood-splitting, and grass cutting parts of owning a home on a former diary farm). But mostly, to me, he’s just my dad. And I like him just the way he is.

Dad’s beard has changed size and shape over time, but I’ve never actually seen his bare chin in real life! Here he’s holding me as a not-yet-one-month-old baby.

Museum Educator Marisa Shultz:

My father is an amazing man! He has taught me so much about how to be a good person: dedication, commitment, discipline, and… not taking yourself so seriously. Ever patient, he is an incredible teacher who always finds ways to help his students understand not only the concepts but also their applications. An insatiable learner, he is always trying new things and mastering new skills (like kayaking and the Python computer coding language). Some of my fondest memories are of biking the C&O canal together and playing many different card, board, and video games together. I am so lucky to have him as a father and role model!

Marisa and her father while visiting Nashville last year.

Director of Education Ilene Dackman-Alon:

My father, “Bernie” Dackman grew up in Baltimore and he loved this city.

As a child he would drive me around the city-  I remember Baltimore as an industrial city in the 60’s and one of my favorite  places that we drove around was by the docks- and when you opened the car window- you could smell licorice.  My father loved to tell me stories of his childhood.  These drives through the city always included singing and would usually end up on Lombard Street where we would stop at “Jacks” for lunch, – the former Lenny’s. My father loved his family, the Jewish holidays and the traditions associated with the holidays.  This coming Sunday, I will think of my father, Bernie and honor all of the important men in my life!  Happy Father’s Day!


jewish museum of maryland

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