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What it takes to be a good father

Here a young Dave Ross interviews his dad with an audience of siblings. (Image courtesy Dave Ross)

With Father’s Day coming up, the question always is: What does it take to be a good father? And I’m going to answer that question by first taking you back to the beginning of my radio career in 1956 at the age of four. My dad was an art director on Madison Avenue but at home he was always playing music.

Our family taped everything. I go back to these tapes because when the topic of how to be a good father comes up, I’m one of the few people who has an extensive archive of the life of the man I consider a great father, that being my own dad.

We have hours of this stuff, where he would play and I would sing with him or I would be the announcer. That to me is the first qualification of a good father. He pays attention. I wasn’t parked in front of the TV. I wasn’t shooed away, unless of course I was misbehaving or impolite, which I was capable of. That’s on tape too and it happened right after my first live commercial.

Young Dave: Use Simoniz. OK along with the show. He’s going to play “Old Shanty Town.”

Dad: Uh. Mr. Announcer I want you to know I’ve never heard anybody talk as much or as long as you.

Young Dave: Well we’ve got some commercials to do too.

That’s the other qualification of a good father. He’s not afraid to put an obnoxious kid in his place. Fast forward to the last recording of my dad a month before he died at age 87. We were listening to what else, to tapes of his old Dixie Land group where he played drums for about 60 years.

Dave: So nobody offered you a recording contract?

Dad: Turned them all down flat. I don’t want to contaminate my talent with money. Right now I’m looking for a little contamination.

That’s probably the most important qualification of a good father. You’ve got to keep your sense of humor because if you’ve got a kid like me, you’re going to need it.

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