June 18, 2022
I mentioned earlier that tomorrow is Father’s Day. Melissa and I beat the crowd and went out on Thursday to celebrate the occasion. The weekend got even better when a package arrived from my son and his family on Friday. I had gotten notice it was coming but Melissa had not. Since she routinely receives packages of succulents from her suppliers, she assumed the package was for her and opened it. When she brought it into my office, she mentioned that it was still wrapped, and she had left it in the box. She cautioned me not to open it until Sunday and even checked today to make sure I had not opened it early. I guess I can open it tomorrow while I am outside grilling.
When I looked online, I found Father’s Day was first celebrated in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. This celebration was sparked by Sonora Smart Dodd in honor of her father. William Jackson Smart was an American Civil War veteran and a single parent who raised his six children in Spokane. Dodd heard a sermon about Anna Jarvis’s Mother’s Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 and told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. She initially suggested June 5 as this was her father’s birthday, but the pastors of the Spokane Ministerial Alliance did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. Seems to me you need to come up with a different sermon every week. It makes me wonder how much time the pastors needed to prepare.
The Father’s Day idea did not meet with as much success as Mother’s Day. In the 1920’s Dodd stopped promoting the celebration while attending the Art Institute of Chicago and the day faded into obscurity. Dodd returned to Spokane in the 1930’s and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness to a national level. She received help from the trade groups that would benefit from the holiday, like makers of ties and tobacco pipes. Then in 1938 she began to receive help from the Father’s Day Council, a group founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the promotion commercially. Americans still resisted the holiday and saw it as an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day. Newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes about the day. The trade groups did not give up and even incorporated the jokes into their ads. The advertisers eventually succeeded and by the mid-1980’s the Father’s Council wrote that ” [Father’s Day] has become a Second Christmas for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.” It seems the papers were right. While Dodd sought to honor her father’s memory the retailers were more into making a buck.
THOUGHTS: Father’s Day had just as hard of a time in Congress after the first bill was introduced in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress feared it would become commercialized. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended the day be observed by the nation but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. It was not until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers and designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. The day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. I still think it is an excuse to sell ties and make dads grill outside in the heat. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.