mom and dadGrowing up in a home with books explains, in part, my love of books. My father has always had a library. That Bob Swenson read Ariel and Will Durant’s 11 volumes of The Story of Civilization and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, meant I surreptitiously read them too, in junior high. Cold War novels, international espionage thrillers, an occasional mystery, Michener, Philip Roth, and Graham Greene. An early member of the Book-of-the-Month-Club, Dad always had a new book. He kept the dictionaries and encylcopedias on shelves where I could easily reach them. And there was always something to read in the bathroom at home. Reader’s Digest or the TV Guide, at least.

We watched Walter Cronkite on CBS Evening News every evening before supper, except on Sundays. We’d listen to WCCO’s CBS Mystery Theater on the car radio driving home from Grandma’s after a big pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. Driving through the streets of north Minneapolis, Dad would ask trivia questions about history, politics, sports, and current events.

“Who is Richard Nixon’s running mate? A. James Miles Martin, B. Spiro Agnew, or C. Hubert Humpherdink?” he asked from behind the steering wheel of our pale blue Chevy station wagon.

“James Miles Martin,” I guessed. Wrong.

Dad busted out laughing. Jim Martin was our back-door neighbor on France Avenue. Only trivia  question I remember getting wrong. Dad won’t ever let me forget it. He’ll be enjoying the day in Minnesota tomorrow with mom.

Memory. Facts. Fun. Story. Books. Knowledge. My father taught me the value of each.

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