Sunday, March 14, 2010

My father was an architect who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright between 1948 and 1951. This blog is about my father, the architect and the man, as told by his oldest daughter.

If you had commissioned a Don Erickson design or acquired a Don Erickson home, you probably know that my father died over three years ago. Dad said that he would probably die near my birthday so that I would never forget him. He missed the mark by two days, but even if he had died on the day I was born, my father was unforgettable to me.

My earliest memories of my father were of Dad working in his first family home in Palatine, Illinois, where he operated his first studio. I remember crawling in my footed pajamas on the cold, concrete floor which was painted a Taliesin red and looking up to see my father and his cousin, Richard Erickson, working at their drafting tables.

When I was only a few years old, Dad took me to “job sites” where he supervised the design and construction of his client’s buildings. Dad would patiently explain how a wood beam carried a structural load as if to imbue a child with his same love of design. I remember the smell of sap leaking from pine 2 x 4’s and playing in the sawdust mounds beneath the wooden “horses.” I remember the smell of burning fuel from the “Sally’s” the work men used in winter to shield themselves from the cold. I remember my Dad lifting me over large, gaping holes in the flooring that looked down below, areas reserved for staircases where ladders temporarily resided.

Dad died in October 2006. I thought that he would have a quiet service and funeral and that I would walk away with an emptiness to be filled with memories, that my life with my father would be absorbed into a cosmic black hole, and reserved for later recall -- private memories with family and with friends. But, while a talented, and some would say “great” architect, his life – and his death – was somehow shaped by Wright’s own life and death, as if the events that came before (and after) were foretold long ago.

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