Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day Dad

Gordon Rayner, my dad

In May I flew to San Diego to celebrate my dad's 86th birthday.  We had a great time visiting museums and going out to eat, but the highlight of the trip was sitting down with my dad and going through old family photographs.  My dad has a terrific memory and more often than not, he could identify the mystery people in the old photos.  The photos also dredged up long forgotten memories and wonderful stories. 

My dad has had an interesting life.  Although he left school in England at 13, he is one of the most intelligent and educated people that I know.  Before we immigrated from England to the United States, he worked at Kodak.  When we settled in California, he worked in "the industry."  The industry in the Los Angeles area is the movie industry.  For most of my early childhood he was an assistant cameraman and worked doing special effects.  Later he was a cameraman and then became a member of the Director's Guild.  He filmed a lot of commercials, television and movies.  I don't remember being especially impressed with his job when I was a kid.  However, I did like that when he was filming commercials the leftover product often wound up at our house.  Back in the days of black and white television, they used to film the products with black and white labels so that the contrast was clearly defined and the label easily read.   I remember having cans of spray on deodorant with black and white labels for years.  My dad filmed the Pillsbury commercials with the Pillsbury Doughboy...and we had a refrigerator filled with Pillsbury slice and bake Christmas cookies.  Score!    

I will eventually write about some of the photos and stories my dad told about our family and his  work, but today I'm just going to share some old photos of my dad.

My dad and I, taken in England in 1951

 Not sure when this photo was taken, but he sure looks young and must be before he married and had children.

As I mentioned, my dad worked in the movie industry.  He was  a cameraman on a Zenith television commercial and, since he had served in the Royal Air Force, he was asked to show the actors in the casting call how to present arms.  The English apparently do it differently than the Americans.  None of the actors could get it right.  My dad wound up acting in the commercial.  For years we would see him on TV playing a guard in front of Buckingham Palace. 

 Have you noticed how well dressed people are in old photos?  In most of the early photos I have of my dad, he is wearing a tie.  This is one of my favorites of my dad and his brother (my Uncle Colin) taken in the driveway of my childhood home.  Don't they look like they could be from the cast of The Book of Mormon?
On my wedding day my dad put a "tuppence" in my shoe for good luck before we left home for the church.
Happy Father's Day Dad.  I love you!
My brother Leigh, my Dad, me taken last summer in San Diego


  1. I enjoyed reading about your dad. This was an interesting peek into a slice of his life. I especially love the wedding photo of him and you.
    It’s great to maintain and pass on family history.

  2. He certainly is an interesting guy, and you are so fortunate to have him around. He made a perfect stand-up guard, it seems! :-)

  3. How fortunate you are to have your dad still vibrant and healthy.

  4. Your Dad was the Palace Guard? He was terrific in the part!

    Sounds like a great guy, lucky you still have him, get as many stories as you can and write them down, I'll bet they are GOLD!!

  5. This is so neat, Jann! I really enjoyed this post. My father died when I was in high school, so I've been left with a lot of holes when it comes to his old photos! And how I wish I could ask him about going to the '39 NY World's Fair, something I've developed a passion for studying. So I always tell people, TALK to your parents while they're here, learn their stories for posterity before it's too late! Thanks for sharing a very warm and interesting visit with us.

  6. The clothing strikes me, too. I have pictures and movies of family picnics at the fairground; the men in suits, ties and hats, the women in dresses and sensible heels. The slenderness of most working age people strikes me, too. I attribute it to meals being more tedious to produce.

    Great your dad is still around and full of stories. Don't let them get away.

  7. Dear Jann, what a lovely tribute to your father and his unique work. I so look forward to viewing more of the photographs he and you looked at in May. And also to learning the story behind them.

    I've been away from blogging for several weeks now and I'm glad to return and to meet your father--such an interesting human being. Peace.

  8. Better start writing, while he is around to share a whole lot of information.

  9. I love reading about your dad and seeing all the photos of him. He sure seems like a terrific guy who certainly did lead an interesting life. I'm glad you are collecting these stories and information while you can.

  10. What a great post and tribute to your Dad. It sounds like he had an interesting career. I LOVE old family photos that come with some history. One of my favorite types of blog post.


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