My Dad — The Teacher Toy

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Read the post titled “In Memeory Of…” before reading this.

OK. Proceed!

I don’t recall the exact year, but in the early 70’s dad built a device that could have replaced the “Speak and Spell”. About the size of a bread box, the “Teacher Toy” was made from a gutted reel-to-reel tape recorder. You would put a flash card in the slot on top of the box, push a button, and the card would move from left to right. The flash card was a standard index card that had a drawing of an object on one side and a strip of magnetic tape on the bottom of the other. As the card moved across the slot via a set of pulleys, the name and spelling of the pictured object would be read aloud from the speaker within the box. The one card I remember was a drawing of a trout. Because the “Teacher Toy” used flash cards, you could have an infinite number of objects to display and spell, unlike the “Speak and Spell”, which is limited to the 12 items pre-programmed in the box. It may sound antiquated by today’s technological standards, but for us the “Teacher Toy” was just short of magic.

My dad was Mr. Fix-It, and tinkered with all manner of devices, from radios and TV’s, to just about every single car we ever owned. I’m not sure if I can call my dad an inventor, since the “Teacher Toy” is the only thing I can recall that he built from scratch, but since I am the 5th child of six, he may have built other things I’m not aware of. What I am sure of is that I inherited his talent for fixing stuff. That will be the topic of the next “My Dad” post.

PS. The picture of the trout was drawn by Dad. Did I forget to mention Dad was pretty talented with a pencil and drawing pad, a talent I definitely DID NOT inherit.

In memory of Bobby Lyle Alexander.

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Born Sept. 8, 1930. Died Nov. 28, 2006.

Who was my dad?

It is a question I can’t answer, because, well, I was not him. Who can really say who anyone is, since we all have thoughts and hopes and dreams that are never revealed to anyone else. Even the scribblings in a diarey don’t scratch the surface of the question. How do you quantify the measure of “who we are”, or in this case, “who he was”? When I sat down to write this post, my first impulse was to uligize him by saying something along the lines of “My father was a loving husband to his wife of 48 years, and a wonderful dad to his six children. He was an intelligent, quiet man. He was an electrical engineer, and worked as a computer programmer for IBM in the 60’s, and later, during its construction, worked on the computer programing for the “Air Trans” shuttle system at Dallas Ft Worth Airport. Blah. Blah. Blah. This is just information; dry facts revealing no flavor of the man who was my father. I think the best way for me to describe his impact on my life is to post some of my fondest memories of him, and describe the ways he helped shape my life.