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So just where is this man going?
2007-05-04 04:00
by Bob Timmermann

Today would have been my father's 78th birthday and I thought I would remember him with this shot of him that made him look like he was posing for the back cover photo of his novel. Somehow, my mom was able to shoot pictures of my dad in interesting ways.




My father was born in 1929 in Breese, Illinois and spent his first 31 years on a relatively large dairy farm. This photo is of my dad when he was about five and he's shown with the family dog, King. Growing up with a farmer who lived on a farm does subject you to a lifetime of hearing tales of getting up early, working every day, walking a long way to school, and hearing phrases about common matters that seem to relate to ... um ... animal excretions. It never rained hard growing. It always "came down like a cow pissing on a rock." There are some other phrases he used a lot, but they are best left unsaid as children might be present. I will add that for the most part my father did not use profanity. Except for a certain four-letter word that started with s, which could seemingly be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and for all I know a conjunction.




This was a shot of my dad, taken back by mom shortly after they had gotten married in 1956 and it shows my dad and his father. But after a couple of years, my dad couldn't stand his father's constant criticism and meddling and he packed up his wife and young son (my oldest brother had just turned one) and drove out to California looking for a new start.

And he went on to have three more sons, with his last one, i.e. me (the kid in red below), being the last attempt by my parents to have a daughter. He survived one battle with cancer in the late 1960s before losing one in 2002, although we didn't know he had cancer until after he died.


Then there were years of running a small drive-through dairy (the man and milk products had a thing I guess) in North Hollywood where my brothers and I were introduced to the working world and also learning that where there's a cash register, there will eventually be a guy with a gun who wants the money inside it. Fortunately we all got out alive.


Then came retirement for my dad thanks to a heavily-insured truck running into his store. Then lots of volunteer work with his church and going to Mass every day.

After my mother passed away and before my father remarried, I went on a trip to Europe with him. We started in Amsterdam and then worked our way into Northern Germany to meet some distant relatives. Then came Denmark where I found out that my father really enjoyed the Tivoli Gardens. Then a train to Norway where I discovered my father was really impressed by fjords. Then back to Sweden (we had passed through it overnight on the way to Norway) where we surprised to find out that Stockholm has a lot of islands. Apparently, we hadn't read that far ahead in our tour book. A ferry to Helsinki followed which set us up for another brief cruise over to St. Petersburg as well as a later day trip to Estonia. It's every son's dream to say to their father, "Hey Dad, how about a one-day tour of Tallinn, Estonia?" "Sounds good, let's go."

But my dad always liked to travel and had visited 45 of the 50 states, missing only North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Alaska. But he told me that the only states he really regretted not seeing were North Dakota and Minnesota.

However, what was my father's destination on the picture up top? I know where Vernon Timmermann, Man of Mystery, was headed in 1957. Do you?




2007-05-04 04:30:24
1.   Vishal
your dad was the guy facing the camera, right?
2007-05-04 05:41:22
2.   Johnny Nucleo
Well I'll hazard that the boat is named the Berkeley, so it's California, and likely the Bay area. And you said that your dad moved to California around 1960. Given the time frame, let me guess... Alcatraz? :)
2007-05-04 06:20:58
3.   Johnny Nucleo
Alcatraz wasn't open to visitors in 1957 so I take back my guess.
2007-05-04 07:39:03
4.   110phil
It definitely looks like SF bay. And the guy beside him definitely looks like FDR.
2007-05-04 08:00:29
5.   Eric L
If it's any consolation, your dad didn't miss much by never visiting North Dakota.
2007-05-04 08:03:12
6.   Marty
Why isn't anyone looking at the fire in the background?
2007-05-04 08:20:46
7.   Daniel Zappala
Bob, you've reminded me that it's been a long-time project to organize my parent's photos for them someday. It's great that you have these photos and these memories.
2007-05-04 08:30:51
8.   ToyCannon
Nice, my dad is also 78 but I'm lucky enough to still have him.

Where ever he's going he's looking stylish, I guess those genes didn't get passed down:)

2007-05-04 09:22:21
9.   capdodger
My first thought was Catalina, but the water is far too calm to be either the leeward side of the island or inside the breakwater. Going with the Bay Area theme, I'll guess Angel Island.
2007-05-04 10:01:26
10.   Bob Timmermann
I don't believe there's a fire in the background as much as just some unregulated smoke coming out of a refinery in Richmond.

On the back of the photo, my father wrote that he was on a ferry to Oakland. He hadn't moved out here yet, but was on a vacation with my mom.

2007-05-04 10:15:21
11.   Bob Timmermann
On closer inspection, i think the black smoke in the background is from a train.
2007-05-04 10:52:39
12.   GoBears
Really nice, Bob. Funny and touching.
2007-05-04 11:30:28
13.   Ken Arneson
I'm assuming that's Albany Hill off on the right; there aren't really any other hills in the East Bay that close to the water. That's a bit north of both San Francisco and Oakland, so it's probably not a ferry between those two places.

Which makes me think that either:

(a) he's actually on a ferry to Berkeley, not Oakland (which would make sense given that the life ring appears to say "Berkeley"), and/or

(b) he's on a ferry from Marin County somewhere.

2007-05-04 11:39:02
14.   Bob Timmermann
The Berkeley ferryboat actually has a wikipedia entry:

The entry says it ran between San Francisco and Oakland until 1958.

2007-05-04 11:59:51
15.   bhsportsguy
Great job Bob. Everytime I see those old films and photos when men wore hats and suits to ballgames, I wonder if we are better off today in our much more casual world.
2007-05-04 12:05:29
16.   Bob Timmermann
I doubt my dad ever wore a suit or hat to a ballgame. I've found out that my mom liked the London Fog raincoat look.

When my parents were dating, my dad would pick up my mom and she would notice the tan line on his forehead as he tended to wear a cap while working on the farm all day.

2007-05-04 12:11:17
17.   bhsportsguy
16 My mom was from farm country (Fresno) until WWII interupted their stay in California.

I always remember Eddie Murphy saying that he loved watching "I Love Lucy" because of the cool clothes that Ricky wore and when you watch the show, you do notice that he's always has a nice sports coat or shirt and slacks combo. I figured they were very vibrant colorwise though we will never know due to the show being in B&W.

2007-05-04 12:41:53
18.   Ken Arneson
14 Ah, I see, the photograph is taken looking almost due north from the Oakland Long Pier towards Berkeley and Albany. There's a picture from the pier where you can see Albany Hill here:

2007-05-04 13:17:57
19.   SFRefugee
If he was going to Oakland from SF from the Ferry Bldg, could that be Yerba Buena Island on the right? But where's Treasure Island?

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