Posted by: laughs4dads | June 18, 2010

Father’s Day

Last month, I posted an historical look at Mother’s Day. It’s only fair that I give Father’s Day the same treatment.

Whereas Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday in 1914, what president do you think was responsible for signing Father’s Day into law?

I bet you didn’t guess Lincoln, or Garfield, or Grant, or any of the presidents that came before Wilson, right? That’s because you know instinctively that Father’s Day was made a holiday after Mother’s Day.

Well, the surprising thing is how much later Father’s Day came along. You’d think that once Mother’s Day was a national holiday, they’d almost have to give fathers equal time, right?

They did…68 years later…when Richard Nixon made a proclamation. Yup, Richard Nixon. Watergate and Father’s Day. And that’s really all you need to know about Father’s Day: it was history’s most delayed afterthought.

My own personal father was never like what I thought fathers should be. Of course, what I thought fathers should be was like the ones I saw on TV. They were slightly bumbling. They were mostly clueless. They wore suits and ties to dinner. They tripped over ottomans. But in the end, they were always there with sage advice for Richie, or the Beaver, or Kitten, or Chip. Because, in the end, they always knew best. Except, perhaps, when it came to naming their kids.

In those days, you didn’t see too many blue collar fathers on TV. You were never really clear about what most of the TV dads did for a living, except for Rob Petrie, who wrote a TV show.  You knew that Ralph Kramden drove a bus, and Major Nelson was an astronaut, and Darrin Stephens worked in advertising, but they didn’t have kids, so they could have careers.  (Tabitha came along later, after Darrin apparently had massive plastic surgery.)

The blue collar dads, like Dan Connor and Archie Bunker, appeared in the 70’s. But in the early 60’s, the only fathers on TV who didn’t wear suits were Andy Taylor (sheriff’s uniform), Ben Cartwright (chaps) and Fred Flintstone (whatever that animal print thing was). And even Fred wore a tie to work!

My dad wore dark blue pants and a jacket as he drove a refrigerated truck all day delivering bacon and cold cuts to delis in the worst neighborhoods of Manhattan and the Bronx. He usually got home after mom and I had eaten. He watched a TV show or maybe a Mets game, and went to sleep, because he’d be up at 5am the next day.

I don’t remember any particular skill I learned from him, or any words to live by that he may have passed on.

He wasn’t like the dads on TV. We weren’t very close. But he was my dad. And he was always there.

I guess that’s better than some.  And I’m pretty sure that if I had wanted to sail around the world by myself, he would have stopped me.  But then, we didn’t have reality TV in those days.

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