Monday, May 26, 2008

Bio of Harrington Arlettaz, My Funny Dad!

(Copied from my Amazon blog--8:00 AM PST, December 6, 2007, updated at 1:57 PM PST, December 21, 2007)

Harry’s father was a linguist who came to this country from Switzerland. He died when my dad was just 3 yrs. old. He got run over by a street car! Harry’s mom never remarried and raised Harry and his younger sister, Dorothy, on her own with the help of her sisters. His sister moved to Boston so they never had much contact with each other once they were adults.

Harry grew up in Cleveland, Ohio but did take a trip to Florida before he got married. Harry attended West Tech High School but didn’t graduate due to his stubborn streak. He flatly refused to do a required book report that was on a fiction book he had no interest in reading. Harry did read a lot though, but only from books that he could learn how to do things (many of which I sold on eBay after he died).

Harry never served in the armed forces because the draft board rejected him because he couldn’t pass their physical. He had flat feet and was told he had Diabetes. He had worked in a bicycle shop and on a production line. His job was making knots. Harry learned Morse Code and was a ham radio operator for awhile. He became a box designer at St. Regis Paper Company where he worked along with his wife (she was in payroll). He got hired because he knew how to use a slide rule and won many awards for his designs through the years. He worked there until retirement.

Harry and Lenore (his wife) met at a church youth group social. She was one of the planners and he was attracted to her outgoing personality. She commented to one of her friends, “Wow, Harrington Arlettaz, what a name. I feel sorry for whomever he marries!” Little did she know at the time it would be her! (Her name then was Niemann--German descent.)

After Harry and Lenore were married, at first they lived in the spacious upstairs of his mother’s house. Harry built their first home by himself in Garrettsville, Ohio. After Lenore saw a mouse in the house one day, they had to move. She said she couldn’t live in a house with a mouse! That’s when they moved to a ranch house in Parma, Ohio.

This is some background on Harry. The book, My Funny Dad, Harry starts from this point on. I’ve included this here after hearing from Cathy, my best friend growing up, that she wished I included my dad’s bio in the book. She told me he was the only person she knew who actually used a slide rule and was very impressed by that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Foreword of "My Funny Dad, Harry"



I have so many funny memories of things my dad, Harrington Arlettaz (Harry), did that I decided to write this book in his memory as a tribute to him. This book is not only about my dad, but also about me, life and aging and how we deal with it. I kept a day-by-day journal since the end of 1999 from which I picked out the funny things that happened and formed this book as well as thinking back and drawing from my memories. I never thought I would write a book until he died. It was a way for me to handle my grief and helped me to really think about what a special man he was. Also, I couldn't sleep through the night because thoughts about things he did kept coming in my head and I thought how easy it would be to write them down and put them in a book. Even the title came to me so I started writing and this book became a reality. I hope it brings a smile to your face, maybe gives you some pointers and even makes you laugh out loud.

My dad lived from December 9, 1917 to February 16, 2007. He was around before TV and lived to see the digital age of high tech. He even got to use a computer! He truly was a Godly, wonderful husband and father. I hope you enjoy the humorous side I am sharing with you in this book as well as some of the tender moments we shared. Everything in here really did happen. He was an amazing man, absolutely one of a kind! Perhaps you too will learn some things from him just as I have.

Having grown up through the Depression, Harry was a king of pack rats. He saved EVERYTHING, but in an organized way. It just took me awhile to figure out his system. If something broke, he would save it because he planned to fix it. For example, Dad was very excited about getting a new microwave and so proud of himself for researching it out and getting exactly the right one. The next day, Gerard and I took groceries to dad and got him to move the old microwave off the counter at least. I thought maybe he'd let Gerard put it by the front door so it would be easy to take out when "the weather broke." But no, he told us to leave it in the dining room for now. I told Gerard "I'm not saying anymore about it, but you watch, he won't throw it away." I was right, he never did!

He just ran out of space and didn't get to everything he wanted to do; consequently, his house was full of clutter when he died. This motivated me to learn how to sell items on eBay, but I had to try things out first to make sure they worked.

Harry truly exemplified the man described in Micah 6:8: "He hath shewed thee, O man what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (KJV)

My dad was a very quiet and private person. That's why it is so ironic that I am sharing him with you through this book. My mom's side of the family were big and loud and my dad was quite the opposite. Mom was always the one who liked to read and talked about writing a book some day.

Harry's priorities were as follows:

Trust in the Lord and Help Others

Be Warm and Comfortable


Working with his hands (like all the time)


Cats and other Animals

Notice that sports, appearance, cleaning and what others think don't even make the list. These things were totally unimportant to him which made him the unique, one-of-a-kind very funny person.

When he hit "old age" he always had to be warm. He wore a jacket vest inside the house all winter long even though the thermometers registered close to 80 degrees. (Yes, plural, because he had at least one hanging in each room, many of which were still in the plastic).

As you read this book, you will get to know my Funny Dad through my eyes as well as how our relationship grew. If you are a caregiver to an older person, I'm sure you will identify with many of the events I share in this book and realize other people have some of the same problems as you. Hopefully, you will even learn some things and get some ideas from him just like I have.

--Karen Arlettaz Zemek

(available on,


"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.