My father, Chilton, was born 76 years ago today. He was a man of few possessions so I don’t really have much that was his. I have one of his bandanas, his wallet, the records he kept (see entry number 4), a scrap of paper I removed from his wall of hand-written quips and quotations, one of his pipes, and his address book. I also have a collection of the letters he wrote to me over the years. One of these days I will put them in chronological order and re-read them all.

This is his bandana:


Even though I have some of Chilton’s ashes in a bottle on the windowsill in the kitchen and piles of his ashes under a tree in the backyard, I still sometimes wonder if he might still be alive. And I wonder how he would have made his way without his wallet, since I took it with me when we left him, dying, in Tonasket nine years ago.

I find it interesting that the ID he carried expired almost two years before he died.


Among the things he valued enough to keep in his wallet is Grandpa’s recipe for meat loaf, which includes the hand-written addendum “Instant brown rice is better eating.”

22-Meat loaf

On a particular wall in his trailer—the wall he could reach without getting up from his customary seat in the kitchen—Chilton had amassed a collection of ephemera on paper. The collection included quotations from books, statistics (including, as I recall, a particularly high Dow Jones Industrial Average), cartoons from the New Yorker, and so on. My brothers and I each chose a piece or two from the wall, taking care to take turns to ensure we each got something that meant something to us. This is the piece that I chose:


I’m not sure how I ended up with his pipe (since I’m not a smoker) but I’ll bet he had several so we each chose one to take home.


Offering: a copy of Grandpa’s meatloaf recipe


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