Vintage Aspergers


The above portrait, circa 1937, is my Dad. He is clearly  taunting the photographer with an imaginary gun. I imagine him chanting “Pew! Pew! Pew!” for twenty minutes straight.

The mischief glistening in Dad’s eyes shines two generations later in my son. Grandma must have tried every trick she knew to settle him down for annual photographs. Heh.

I can also imagine my five year old father, overwhelmed by the long trip and fuss at the studio. Disregulated, he hosted the spirit of tomfoolery to escape the photo shoot.

Either that or he thought his antics were hilarious, which, 75 years later, they are.




At eight, my father found himself advanced to fifth grade. Although his academic skills were off the charts, he struggled with his teachers. Messy handwriting plagued him. The above teacher almost failed him in mathematics. She did not believe he could solve math problems in his head.

My father struggled socially. He thought differently, he acted differently and he behaved differently. Although he likely had the highest IQ in the state of Tennessee, scorn rained down from all sides. Adults, peers and teachers treated him shamefully.

I will not recount such ugliness.
I will celebrate my father’s post high school triumph:

Dad 17

The fellow up front, beaming and wearing a beret is my dad. At seventeen he taught organic chemistry lab at the local college. A few years ago one of his students tracked Dad down and sent this picture.  At the university, my dad found his place. No one belittled my enthusiastic, spirited father. He was roundly adored and respected.

I could write pages about my father’s exciting Hemmingway-esque life. I leave you with this instead:

My Father is an Aspie Patriarch. He struggled against an ignorant, sometimes cruel world. He wielded his strengths to move forward and provide for his family. No matter his hardship, he retained a soul-deep sweetness and sincerity, endearing him to students, co-workers and friends.

I love you Dad.  I am super-proud of all your hard work and good cheer. Carry on!

Digital elements: Christina Renee, Creashens, Beth Rimmer, family archives.

22 thoughts on “Vintage Aspergers

  1. This is one of my favorite posts. I love the combo of old photos, the report card (awesome), and your words. Made for a delightful read. Your dad was a handsome chap, too. 🙂

    1. Sam!
      I’m glad you liked the post! I’ve been sitting on it for a bit. I find stringing words together at times to be unbelievable intimidating. I appreciate your encouragement! 🙂

  2. What a lovely post. My heart is lifted with smiles. I relate to much of what you share with your father about school. Funny, David is an organic chemist…well not praticing he went to school for it for a billion years. Hee hee

    I love your father’s picture! Lol! I am giggling still at his image stuck in my mind. How awesome for him to pull through and succeed.

    Thanks for sharing, I would love read to father’s Hemmingway-esque life too!!

    1. Angel! Thank you! It’s nice to wake up and see your perky comment! I have tons of old photos so I’ll be writing more. I have much respect for Aspies who manage to work and spend time with their families. It can be so challenging to manage all that responsibility with a sensitive brain.

  3. This is such a wonderful post. I think it’s important to celebrate our aspie elders and the struggles they went through in a world where the term Asperger’s as a clinical definition didn’t exist. It took so much effort and courage to triumph for them. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for Dropping in, Inner Aspie! I agree wholeheartedly. For all my dad’s gifts, he paid a high price over the years. It is wonderful that he can get some well deserved praise! 🙂

  4. The gun fingers get me! My son spent two years getting into double trouble, because he shot gun fingers when he didn’t understand why people were angry with him.
    Love this post! We all find our place eventually 🙂

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Amy!

      Please forgive my late response, we’ve had a tummy flu.

      My son has graduated from gun finger to synchonized fist twisting–it’s half martial arts, half sheer annoyance! Alas, I’m a compulsive finger-snapper myself! 🙂


    1. Thank you so much, AZ!

      I greatly appreciate the encouraging comments. I try my best to entertain and share a slice of our life. We are so lucky to know about Asperger’s. It’s a twist to the left of normal, but with education and patience, Aspies can contribute and have very meaningful lives.

  5. beautiful. my father left the family and his engineer life when I was 8 (and basically disappeared to SouthAmerica) but from what i remember and considering my brother’s behaviours and personal path of life, I have come to believe that our Asperger heritage comes from that side. My father was very stubborn, extremely talented in math, physics and mechanics and had a tendency for engaging in lone adventures. Your tales of your dad make me think of him..

    1. I appreciate you reading my articles so much. I put a great deal of time into each post, but I can’t manage to put much energy into promotion. I rely on the happy accident of finding kindred souls by chance. So, Thank you! 🙂

      My Dad’s father left his family, on and off throughout his childhood. It was so hard on him. We’ve gone through Grandpa’s journals and his wife’s journals and have concluded he was on the spectrum too. I think our heritage comes from all sides of the family–My husband, his father, his brother (dx’d), aunt, all on the spectrum. I think it’s a case of like attracts like! I *adore* neurodivergent people! Every person is like a best selling mystery novel, filled with unexpected surprises!

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