I wanted to share with you a memory of my father that was published in The Stamford Advocate in June of 2008.

My father has had a wonderful impact on my life and it motivated to write this piece.
What do an old pair of Nike sneakers, Paul Simon, The Advocate and the State Theatre have in common? My father, Don Carlon. When I was growing up, my father taught me lessons of sacrifice, generosity and frugality through the example he set for me and my brothers and sister.

Sacrifice: Growing up, my father had one pair of sneakers that were, what seems like, from the Washington administration. I remember being somewhat embarrassed by these old sneakers and asked him why he did not get a new pair. His reply was simple; that these old sneakers still fit. It is only now, as the father of 6-year-old triplets, that I come to see an additional reason why the old sneakers remained in his life for so long – he kept wearing old sneakers so his children could have new ones.

Generosity: My father is a very generous person – he and my mother put all of us through college and some of us through graduate school, giving us the building blocks to have successful careers. In addition to being financially generous, dad is also generous with his time. My twin brother, Jimmy, and I were paperboys for The Advocate while in middle school. We had a pretty big route, spanning many streets and homes off Newfield Avenue. You all know how big the Sunday papers are – and these were very difficult to deliver in a timely manner off my BMX bike. So on Sunday mornings, Dad would load us into the white Oldsmobile and drive us to deliver the papers. We would listen to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” in its entirety while doing so. To this day, I listen to that flawless album on a regular basis, sometimes with a tear in my eye, as I think about my father taking the time to help us deliver those newspapers.

Frugality: Those of us who grew up in Stamford remember the State Theatre as the place where you could see a somewhat new movie for a fraction of the cost of the other theater chains. If there were ever a movie we wanted to see (such as something completely inappropriate for a 10-year-old like “Sudden Impact”) my father waited for it to come to the State and we would see it, albeit later than most people in town, for a discount. That is only where the frugality begins. Prior to pulling into our parking space, we would visit the Food Bag, pick up some sodas and popcorn and bring those into the theater with us (“They rip you off at concession stands – I remember when popcorn was a nickel.”). The icing on the cake was my father trying to pass my twin brother and me off as children to get a lower ticket price (“Bend down a little boys and Michael, walk with a limp.”). Never mind that he would try this when we were both shaving on a regular basis.

As I look back on my childhood, I could never imagine growing up with anyone else as my father. Sure he had his quirks (black dot tests, creative swear word combinations, endless stories about the 20 jobs he had while putting himself through Iona College) but I will use this opportunity to say something I don’t say nearly enough: I love you dad!