Henry Fonda
Image via Wikipedia

From the story, The Major

As in:

After seeing Fort Apache for the third time my friend Big Floyd told me that my father looked just like Henry Fonda.

“I thought you liked my dad,” I said, feeling stung that my best friend had implied some unflattering resemblance between the vainglorious Colonel Owen Thursday and my father.

“I do like your dad,” replied Big Floyd. “I didn’t say he was like the Henry Fonda guy. I just think he looks like him.

“I think you’re sitting to close to the screen,” I told him.

“No, come here,” he said, leading me inside the house and down the hall to the den. “Look at this.”

It was the 8” x 10” picture in the bookcase. It shows my father, in uniform, as a 2nd Lieutenant, South Korea, 1953. He is sitting behind his desk, leaning forward onto his elbows, pen in hand. There is a hint of a smile, but no teeth showing.

“See?” said Big Floyd. “Is that the Fonda guy or what?”

“Fonda?” It was Paris’s voice. “No way. That’s Perry Como if it’s anybody.”

Whomever the photograph resembled, dad made it clear he did not think it was a faithful portrait. Its place on a bookshelf far from the living room was a compromise of sorts. When we’d moved into the house, mom had wanted to place it on the ledge above the living room fireplace.

“I married that man and I’m proud of him,” she insisted, to which my father replied that he didn’t want guests to feel as though they had to salute him before they could be seated. Besides, he said, he wasn’t in the Army any more.

The remark was softly spoken but it struck at the wound in their marriage. It was not a wound that time was healing.

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