In the few short months between my trip to Alaska for a family reunion in August and my trip to Alaska for my father’s funeral in October, I read Sarah Vowell’s book Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World. The book had been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year before I finally picked it up and started to read.

Cannon: moose gooser

The first essay in the book was called “Shooting Dad,” a coming of age story of sorts: a progressive minded young woman grew up in the middle of nowhere in a house full of republican gun fanatics, yet finds her way home to a reconciliation with her father during an outing that involves his cannon. Hmmm, could be the story of my life.

dad cannon moose gooser

My dad was famous around town as the guy with the Moose Gooser – A cannon that he kept at the house and packed up to take to every home game and most away games of the Palmer High School football team, the Palmer Moose. He was obsessive about that cannon and spent hours loading the shells by hand before each game.

I went to one game with him to watch him fire the cannon. That was this August and it was his last game. I read Sarah Vowell’s essay a month later and it was exactly what I needed to hear. No matter how extreme our political differences, he’s still my dad. And I love him – and I miss him.

The story is as funny as it is touching and well worth the time to read it.


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Judy Schwartz Haley


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