Diary of a Retiree Robert A. Lytle: Father’s Day

Diary of a Retiree Robert A. Lytle

Sunday, June 20, 2021 – Father’s Day, Franklin Village – Sunny 70-83

Bob sits in a chair with bookselves behind him
Bob Lytle in his home library

An interesting thing happened at Ian’s today. Joining Candy and me were Ian’s in-laws, Jure and Lidija, and Jamie’s family—his wife Mary and their two children—eleven in all. Jure and I decided to give the kids a little exercise. We grabbed Henry, Liam and Charlotte from the patio where everyone else was gathered and headed for the grassy area of Ian’s side yard. I collected six tennis balls and a plastic bat as we walked past a toy box. Jure mentioned that he had done the same the day before with our mutual 4-year-old grandson, Liam, but instead of tennis balls, he had pitched a lightweight volleyball for the kid to whack. As Jure told me this, the memory of another object used for the same purpose almost forty years ago leaped to mind.

It was on a sunny day in February, the dead of winter, when I decided it would be fun to visit our cottage on Dixie Lake. I piled my four sons and a few neighbor boys into the van. And, half an hour later, we arrived to find the lake frozen solid with an inch of snow covering it.

I was planning a short stay so I only brought a thin plastic sled for something to do. Crossing to the island, Ian found the remains of an ice-fishing site, which included the frozen head of a butchered bullhead. Ian picked it up and, smiling, tossed it to Jamie. Jamie inspected the “ball.” His first reaction, disgust, escalated quickly to sheer delight. A game of catch, with peals of laughter at the absurdity of the crude object, followed. By employing the plastic sled as a bat, a new sport began. The boys piled snow strategically to become bases. Sides were drawn and the match was on. Ian decided that we shouldn’t call it base-BALL. Instead, the new pastime would be named “Base-BULL.” Everyone heartily agreed and the event lasted long enough for the contestants to become either cold or hungry. We packed up the “bat” but not the “ball” and returned to civilization.

As I said, this was almost 40 years ago. I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning it again. But, with only Jure’s comment of his play with Liam the day before, the memory of that wintry day at the cottage came to mind. I wondered if the long-ago event had made the same impact on the boys as it had on me.

As Jure and I walked back to the party, I thought of a way to find out. I told him to get ready for what I hoped was about to follow. We approached the area where Ian and Jamie were sitting with the others and I said, “Hey, Ian—Jamie. What comes to mind if I say, “Let’s play base-BULL?”

The response was immediate. For the next ten minutes, each recalled in minute detail particulars of that frozen day on the lake—the only time in either of their lives that a fish head had been employed for any activity.

Such are the moments of our lives. Seemingly insignificant events are often the stuff of our most distinct and beloved memories. 


  1. June Hopaluk says

    Good fun and great memories!

Speak Your Mind