Navigate / search

A “Pop” By Any Other Name…

This here, ladies and gentlemen, is my Pop:

His name is James Dudley Valentine (seriously, how cool do you have to be to have the middle name Valentine?), but pretty much everyone who knows him calls him “Pop”.

I would tell you his last name but I don’t want to run the risk of you maybe deciding you want him to be your Pop, too.  And you might be younger and cuter and a better grandchild than I am and I wouldn’t be able to compete.  And then I’d have to make you mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night.

Beware, I am a possessive granddaughter.

Besides, Pop doesn’t need any more admirers.  He has a big enough fanbase as it is.

Everyone who meets him seems to fall in love with him.  Maybe it’s his charm.  Maybe it’s his years and years of experience as an accomplished salesman.  Maybe it’s the fact that he looks like a cross between Ernest Hemingway, a salty sea captain and Santa Claus.

Am I right??

Whatever it is, the man has what can only be described as charisma, which explains how he managed to woo my bombshell of a grandmother.

He is 91 years young and, at the rate he’s going, 20 years from now he’ll still be mowing the lawn and shoveling through five feet of Wisconsin snow while the rest of us shuffle around in orthopedic shoes and complain about draughts.

He attributes his longevity to the fact that he drinks Scotch on the rocks pretty much all day long.

(Did I mention we’ve got a lot of Irish in our family?)

My Pop is the kind of guy who jokes after a meal, “Your food has ruined my appetite.”

My Pop is the kind of guy who quips, “Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you.”

My Pop is the kind of guy who mentions that the last truly good movie he saw was Stalag 17 (which, for the record, came out in 1953) every single time I see him.

My Pop is the kind of guy who challenges us grandkids to a one-yard foot race.

My Pop is the kind of guy who doesn’t get mad when I barf up Cap’n Crunch all over the backseat of his Jaguar.

To be fair, I was only six at the time.  But still, classy guy, no?

Perhaps one of the best qualities about my Pop is that he has a joke or a song for every single conceivable situation.   You could be shipwrecked on a deserted island with Alec Baldwin and 200 shipments of Crest toothpaste and he would have the perfect song to commemorate the occasion. It’s a talent, pure and simple.

It doesn’t hurt that he has a lovely singing voice, and he sings his brooding Irish ballads in a smooth and resonant tenor.  My Dad inherited his pipes, but somehow that gene skipped me, laughing and pointing as it passed by.  Dang.

With all of these traits, it’s no wonder he’s quite the stud.

Young or old, the ladies just can’t resist his charm.

Here we are on my wedding day…

…where he pretty much stole the show.  But I’m OK with that.

‘Cause he deserves it.

Love you bunches, Pop.




This is the same man who can take that same Jaguar down an icy freeway in Illinois and manage to pull safely out of a 4-full-revolutions spin without making the 12-year-old in the passenger seat mess himself. All in an effort to sneak a grandchild out to a burger joint for some real food before heading back to the (then) no-meat-zone.

the other Mrs. Barstow

Oh, yes, Pop is a favorite!!! You and your family are too much fun!! And don’t worry, Erin. You don’t need to sing. Your other talents are much more appreciated. Keep ’em coming!!


Oh, so that’s why you haven’t let me see him again since lunch that day…

Mom and Pop McDermott

You forgot to mention his famous quip, “Of all my relations, I like sex the best.”


I love me some Pop too :)


AWWWWWW that was soooo sweet of you to write that very well one !

Wishing you success and all the best days to come.


Wow, he looks (and sounds) like such an amazing man!! I loved the:

“Maybe it’s the fact that he looks like a cross between Ernest Hemingway, a salty sea captain and Santa Claus.”

I totally see it. Amazing description.


So true. That was beautiful Erin!

ps Lately Pop has been asking for a half-yard head start in the one-yard foot race…

pps Before i saw the pic of Maia w/ Pop, i was wondering how you were gonna explain to Cora and her sis the “young or old” caption below the pic of POP w/them! :)

Don't be shy... tell me what you think!