My Father’s Hair

GREYSCALE_Page_04 copySusann Klassen and Frank F Enns were beautiful and handsome when they were courting and newly married. I’ve always envied my father’s hair. Dad was not  particularly vain, but he had a sense of style well-developed for a Mennonite man of his time (check out his tie!), enough to attract the attention of many young women. He had eyes only for Susann, who as you can see in the gallery (which I hope to turn into a slide show when I learn how) was no slouch in the looks department either, and rather more likely to tell stories of her old boyfriends and crushes even if all they did was tie her skates, than Dad was to talk about his days as a heart-breaker.

He did like to tell the story though, of how his family and their relatives admired his full head of thick blonde hair as an infant. Something he remembered fondly of his Russian childhood, as well as being spoiled as the youngest (with a gap of up to 20 years) of the family, as I was a generation later. Like most men of the time he washed his hair once a week and he brushed it regularly. I remember a round yellow plastic brush that fit into the palm of his hand. He carried it in his bottom outside suit jacket pocket, taking it out without any self consciousness, to brush his hair back, the style that suited him best, and with one ugly exception when he wore a severe brush-cut and a mustache when he was principal of the Gretna Public School, it served him well until he died when he was 91.

There are a few more pictures I’ll add when I find them, including one of him leaning against a rural mailbox that we used in the letters section of the Rhubarb Romance issue, and the one on the steps of the Lena church the day he was ordained. Lacking that photo this poem will have to do.  There are more poems about my dad in  “My Father’s Garden,” the opening sequence of my 2005 collection Lucky Man, nominated for the McNally Robinson Best Book of the Year Award.




On the steps of the country church –
Head up. Thick blonde hair
Disheveled in the wind.

He runs one hand over his head,
The other full of the Bible
Against his heart.

Over the photographer’s shoulder,
The harvest fields he loves –
The fullness of the fall air.

He has been called
away, new blood,
old shoes.

Standing in the wind and light,
His mouth goes dry –
The first pounding headache behind his eye.

– From LUCKY MAN (Hagios Press, 2005), available by order from  McNally Robinson and in their Winnipeg  store.


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One Comment

  1. Wendy b
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    His hair is exceptional! I love the photos.

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