Things My Father Taught Me: Matt Springer
Kindness. Mr. Matt Springer has it in spades. A deep baritone. Soft-spoken. Well-spoken. Even-keeled.
Matt Springer is a good friend. Matt is one-fourth Made Right Here. He’s the one moving the meter on the little TV Pilot we put together with Joe Gannon and Rick Page. He’s father to two beautiful children and husband to an even more beautiful wife, Greta. They’re entirely responsible for turning Nashville into my home-away-from-home. As Joe would say, Matt’s my “homeboy.” He’s fast to make everybody feel comfortable and at home, which is great when things are good, even better when they aren’t, like when tensions arise in meetings.
It was so hot in the cramped corner of Architectural Antiques in Minneapolis, Minnesota that Bruce had removed his shoes. This was where Matt’s dad, Bruce Springer, hovered over an electric griddle flipping pancakes for unsuspecting passersby.
“Hot in here, isn’t Bruce?” I would ask him in roughly thirty minute intervals.
“Woo!” He’d reply every time.
He’d smile and laugh and flip a pancake.
A couple years ago, Joe and I teamed up with Matt’s parents, Bruce and Judy, for the debut of Buckshot Sonny’s at the menswear market known as Northern Grade. In their hometown of Cashton, Wisconsin, they run a pancake company called, appropriately The Great American Pancake Company. Someone, probably Joe, suggested they join us at the market, and I’m so glad they did. They killed it and made the debut of our little shop incredibly special. And it’s thanks to them that today we sell an exclusively made buckwheat pancake mix on the site.
Of this year’s crop of submissions, Bruce may be the only of my friends’ fathers I have met. I enjoy the opportunities I get on the phone with Mr. Springer. He’s an impassioned speaker, his son’s biggest supporter, and he has a businessman’s brain: quick with facts and figures on his beloved pancake products.
I’m so thankful for people like the Springers. And I’m happy Matt took time to share the story of his father, Bruce.
He landed a job at Bullock’s department store in Southern California, where he worked in the men’s department. Naturally, he had to look his best. With heavy discounts on clothing, his wardrobe expanded. He still talks about Oleg Cassini and Hickey Freeman suiting to this day. “Hickey Freeman suits for $300. As good as you could get off the rack then.” He wore suits into his early forties. Business classics, nothing out of the ordinary for the times. On the weekends it was polo shirts, jeans and Nocona cowboy boots. He was never afraid of color. Lavenders, pinks and teals. My mother loved it. I’d often get harassed if I happened to wear something short of a Cosby sweater.
He got a perm in the late 70s. I’m talking Richard Simmons. He didn’t care what you think.
On family roadtrips, he’d talk to truckers on the CB trying the learn the whereabouts of “smokies.” His handle was “The Preacher’s Kid.”
He taught me about clean shaves and rubbers. To keep his Florsheim’s unharmed by the Minnesota winters, my father wore black stretchable rubber overshoes. Totes or galoshes to some, rubbers to him. “My dad wears rubbers to work,” I’d tell the rest of my classmates at Royal Oaks elementary. An upperclassman told me what rubbers were and even though I didn’t understand, I’m pretty sure that was the last time I called them rubbers in public. He took great care for his shoes even when it wasn’t cold and slushy. He loved a good shoe shine and his pairs were regularly buffed out. Whether it was his kit at home or airport stands during his travels, he kept them in tip top. “If you want your things to last, you have to take care of them,” I remember him telling me once.
I didn’t have blonde hair, but my peach fuzz was almost the same color as my face in junior high. I looked like Rik Smits, minus the mullet. So my father took his 7th grade son into the master bath and taught him how to shave. Nice and easy with a Gillette Atra and The Hot One shaving foam (it heated up as you applied it to your face.) I didn’t have single nick that first time.
My father has a great sense of humor, and he is a marvelous smart ass. He taught me how to cook with rooster sauce before the rest of America knew what sriracha was. And he taught me to never be afraid to take risks and that hard work always pays off.