I never met him so I don't know what he looks like but my mother, my aunt, and a few others who did meet him all say I look more like him than I do her.
He owned an ocelot.
So did Salvador Dali.
He earned a Purple Heart during his military career.
Presumably, he served in the Korean War. I base this on the fact that he was 1) wounded and 2) in his early 30s in the early 60s.
He had kidney problems.
For some reason I've always associated the kidney problems with the Purple Heart. The one doesn't actually imply the other. I may have simply taken the two facts (medal earned for a wound during battle) and fused them into one.
He sold Good Humor ice cream out of cart.
I wasn't sure if this was a true fact or one of my wishes but recently my mother said something about it again so it must be true.
In the early 1960s, he lived in Manhattan.
I am assuming somewhere either in Greenwich Village or the East Village. I know he shared an apartment in the latter with my mother and I'm assuming they met somewhere in the area.
He was married and had a son and daughter before he met my mother.
This is one of the reasons I've never pushed to find him. I am fairly certain his wife knew about my mother and I know my father knew about me but there are two others involved who probably know nothing and may not want to know anything. They would both be older than I am and, for all I know, there is a third, fourth, or even fifth half-sibling out there somewhere about whom I know nothing.
He was born in the early 1930s.
My mother says he was ten years older than she and she was born in 1940. But he may have been born in 1928 or 1929. He may have lied about his age and been ten years older still. Who knows?
He was a painter.
Aside from half my DNA, this is the only thing of my father's I can call my own. He had given it to Juliana, a friend of his and my mother's and she, in turn, gave it to me when I was in my 30s. The painting now hangs in our kitchen. I didn't take a very good picture of it, I'm afraid.
He knew about me.
He didn't leave my mother until she was over 8 months pregnant and he came, bearing gifts, to see me for the first time on my second birthday. My mother didn't let him in.
Other things. He may or may not have been German. He may or may not have been first generation American. He may or may not have been Jewish.
He definitely was going salt-and-pepper grey by the time my mother met him. I started going grey when I was 20, as did both of my sons. And his two favorite books were
Jude the Obscure
And Cyrano de Bergerac