Just a thought or two about the Statue of Liberty and its significance to so many people. As I was listening to NPR one day on my way home from work, I heard the author of Greek Boy, Dino Thompson, being interviewed. Having lived in Myrtle Beach for 30 years, I recognized the name and decided to tune in a little more closely. I can’t remember all of his comments, but I do remember that he talked about his father’s somewhat circuitous journey from Greece to New York City and then later down the coast to Myrtle Beach. His father’s original intention was to travel to Florida, but once in Myrtle Beach, he soon learned of a restaurant for sale and bought it on the spot. Dino was a small child at the time.
Anyway, the thrust of this particular interview dealt with Dino’s dad and the remarkable man he was. However, as Dino moved into his teen years, he found himself being somewhat embarrassed by his “old man.” He’d do things like roll up his pants leg and stash cigarettes there. He’d pick his son up from football practice and ask if he’d hit any homeruns. In other words, Dino’s father was different from his friends’ dads, and at the time, it bothered the teen.
Determined to learn more about his father, Dino said he’d ask him questions to provoke an answer…any kind of answer. One day as they were fishing off one of the many piers that line the strand, he asked his father to tell him about the best day of his life. Figuring that he’d say something like, “The best day of my life was the day you were born,” Dino was a bit caught off guard by the answer. For a moment, his father’s eyes misted over, and he became visibly emotional as he replied that the best day of his life was the day his ship came into the New York Harbor and he saw the beautiful lady there, torch held high in her right hand.
I met Dino at a writers’ conference in Myrtle Beach last fall, and I introduced myself to him and told him that I’d heard the NPR interview. He replied that his dad was quite a guy, and that after that day on the pier, he never looked at him in the same way. Like thousands of other immigrants to America, his father possessed strength, courage, and a double dose of hope.