By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Father’s Day almost didn’t happen. When a few tried to rally support for the holiday in the early to mid-1900s, critics said fathers didn’t have the same sentimental appeal as mothers. That is probably why my brother, mom and I gave my dad a cinderblock for Father’s Day one year. He was building a garage, a man cave before basements became devoted to the gender’s sports and hunting hobbies. The garage was the first man cave. So to help, we bought a cinderblock and wrote the words, “Happy Father’s Day” in black magic marker. Then we wrapped the block like a present. He used it as part of the foundation of the garage. I know my dad appreciated his cinderblock; the look on his face was priceless. He was surprised, but then again who wouldn’t be after unwrapping a heavy block. Since then, there have been ties, big packs of his favorite candy, shirts, cookouts and more on Father’s Day. Now instead of construction-related gifts, he jokingly hints at parts for an old Chevy truck or a good meal at his favorite restaurant.
It took awhile for barbecue sets, golf clubs, video games and of course, ties to become appropriate Father’s Day gifts. Americans didn’t know how to go from Mother’s Day — flowers, breakfast in bed, cards and candy — to Father’s Day. The first event dedicated to fathers happened in West Virginia on July 5, 1908. A church held a sermon to honor fathers who died during the explosions at Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah County. However, it was a one-time event.
The next year, Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for fathers in Washington. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials for support. Her work paid off and the state celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910. However, the rest of the nation didn’t embrace the holiday; some thought it was foolish. According to the History Channel, many fathers didn’t see the importance or perhaps, didn’t like getting flowers. During World War II, America started to embrace the idea, giving the day a patriotic flair. Finally, former President Nixon made the holiday official in 1972. We now spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
Times have changed since the first Father’s Day celebration. Women have figured out how to honor the fathers in their lives. We learn their favorite things and the moments that make them smile. From homemade cards to more mature gifts, I still take pride in delivering a Father’s Day gift to my dad. I get a smile and a hug in return every time. The critics of the early years might have been right about men not wanting flowers. But they didn’t take into consideration the thought-process of women and their children. It goes back to the basic principles of giving and expecting nothing in return. No, a cinderblock might not be sentimental; neither is a new truck part or grill. Nevertheless, it is given and received in love. Every weird, strange, thoughtful and funny Father’s Day present comes from the heart, even big blocks.
Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @BDTParsell.