The Character Movement

A Road Trip with My Dad

When I was 10 years old, my dad took me on a business trip to Milwaukee – which is a long, six-hour drive from Minneapolis. When we arrived in Milwaukee, we checked into the landmark Pfister Hotel. It just so happened that the Baltimore Orioles were in town for a baseball game and were also staying at the Pfister. At the time, I was a baseball fanatic. I collected baseball cards (that I still have) and studied the box scores every chance I could get. The Orioles had won the World Series the previous year and, even though I was a Twins fan, it was a thrill to be among the best of the best.

My dad had a number of appointments that day so he let me stay in the lobby and fetch autographs. He gave me a stack of blank recipe cards and I stood at the bottom of the escalator as Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson came down to the lobby. I asked for their autographs and they would smile and sign a card. That night my dad took me to an old-fashioned German restaurant called Karl Ratzsch’s. I still remember the high ceilings, the table by the front window and sitting with my dad as the restaurant filled with business travelers. It felt so adult. I ate schnitzel and told my dad every single detail about meeting my heroes that afternoon. He listened to every word.

Getting all those autographs was great, but what really made that trip magical was being with my father and having him listen to me about my experience. My dad passed away three years ago and this trip is one of my most cherished memories of him.

Two weeks ago, I was at the Pfister once again. This time, almost 50 years later, I was in Milwaukee to lead a Youth Frontiers retreat on leadership for 250 11th-graders from multiple area high schools. I was focused on my role as Retreat Director that day, but as I walked through the hotel’s revolving doors, memories of that trip with my dad flooded back to me. Perhaps someday soon, I will bring my eight-year-old daughter, Tess, here. I want to go on a road trip with her, listen to her stories and build positive memories for both of us that will last a lifetime.

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