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Fathers Day Memories



Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Pam Brown


This year, we’re especially thankful for the dads in our lives. They wears so many hats (or ties!): guide, mentor, coach, tutor, sage, shoulder. We’re learning new ways to celebrate dads this year, even if it is a little trickier than setting up the VCR.

And for those whose fathers are no longer with us, we honor them and celebrate their memories. It’s another way of keeping them close to us and passing on their legacy to future generations.

Below, we’ve gathered stories from some of our fathers and sons across Great Performances as they remember their fathers.

Check out more Father’s Day photos and a Father’s Day wish list.

Vincent Palumbo, General Manager, CPS Events at The Plaza

I am extremely fortunate to observe Father’s Day as both a father and son.

As a Son

I’m not sure if it was my dad bringing the old world with him or the insecurity of a new country that seemed so big to him, but whatever the reason,  my father made it a point to keep us close to him and close to each other. This was especially true with dinner. Every night at 6 pm, no matter where we were or what we were doing, we knew to come home and have dinner together as a family. All four of us kids were there. My mother would send one of us to buy the bread (usually a source of contention between the siblings on who would go).  The weeknight dinner always consisted of a pasta (usually with lentils, chickpeas, green beans) and then a protein served family style in the middle of the table. As I got a little older, my dad would pour me  half a glass of the Carlo Rossi jug wine and mix it the other half with sprite (I believe Italian Americans invented the modern wine cooler, but that’s a different story). We would finish up with my dad usually slicing up some fruit and sharing with us. This would be the longest course, usually due to the stories he would tell us about growing up in Italy. This is where he truly shined, with each story leaving us in stitches before he even got to the ending. Throughout the years, we heard some of these stories’ multiple times, but they never got old and always ending with us laughing as if we heard it for the first time.

At that moment, it just looked like we were having a delicious meal,  but it’s dual purpose, intentional or not, was that it set the tone and strengthened the roots that we have as a family. Today, as we lead our own lives with our own families, we are as close as ever. Even now during the occasional Sunday together, we don’t dare show up late to my parent’s house and yes all four adult children still cannot agree on one simple question…..”who is getting the bread?”

As a Father

The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt effected many families. Times like these have dramatically affected all aspects of our lives. My 15 year old son Domenico is a resident at the Center for Discovery, which is a residence for children with special needs. Due to this pandemic, we have not been able to visit him

Vincent’s son and daughter
Photo credit: Vincent Palumbo

or have him home on weekends since March. While this has been extremely difficult for my wife & I, the steps that the Center and it’s staff have taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our son and it’s other residents has been a source of comfort for all us and for that I am extremely grateful to them. This week they are starting to allow families to visit, which would make a truly special Father’s Day gift for me.

At this stage of my life, with two kids of my own, through the example that my father & my father in law have set…..I’ve learned you never stop being a father even when the children become adults (maybe especially). For that I can only say thank you to both and  propose a toast to all of the dads on a healthy and safe holiday. (Carlo Rossi wine optional.)

Justin Schwartz, Executive Chef – Production, Great Performances

Years ago my father took a job in the city. This was after the great recession and it seemed everything was headed towards recovery, including our family. For Father’s Day that year I got him a wallet, perfect for the city. Small, sleek and really well made with a front pocket for a metro card. He of course loved it, and I would swell with pride every time I saw him use it, and he did use it, every day from that day on until he passed away some years later. He was diagnosed with cancer while I was in college and passed away just after I graduated from culinary school. I can still remember the look on his face when I graduated, pure joy seeing his baby pursuing his passion. What could be better for a father?


Justin and his father
Photo credit: Justin Schwartz
Justin and the wallet he gave his father
Photo credit: Justin Schwartz

After everything was over, on an afternoon when my brother and I missed him terribly, we agreed to go through his things. Looking back this was probably the first time we began to mourn him together, as a family. We came across the wallet, still full of the various pieces of his life, and I immediately claimed it  as my own. I still use it today and I think of him every time I hold it in my hand. I even left a card of his inside. Seeing something with his name printed on it, even an old credit card, brings back the look of his face, the smell of his hair. Sometimes I just take it out and hold it in my hand when I miss him.

When I miss him, a trip to the local diner brings me back. I remember on Father’s Day, we would go on outings and he would order—without fail—a chicken salad sandwich on toasted rye with lettuce, onion, a full sour pickle on the side, and a Diet Coke with a slice of lemon. Before coming home, we’d get chocolate and vanilla swirl frozen yogurt with mixed nuts. Now that I have kids, we’ll go to the local diner and I find myself ordering his meal. As my children watch me eat it, I wonder what they are thinking and if this food will do the same for them as it does for me.

Ronnie Davis, Managing Director, Great Performances

Mussels, Clams & Calamari Marinara dish for Father’s Day
Photo credit: Ronnie Davis

I inherited my love of cooking from my father, who was a prominent caterer in my native Philadelphia. Like him—even though I feed people for a living—the most relaxing thing I do in my off-time is cook, especially for others. We loved to cook at home if we had a rare Father’s Day off from doing an event. I loved making Mussels, Clams & Calamari Marinara for him using an old family recipe from our Italian neighbors in South Philly. The secret was in the sauce, which could be made a few days in advance and frozen. Using a heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, the results were always perfect.