A Father’s Day Memory

On the 16th day of June 2019 we celebrated Father’s Day. The Library of Congress says” the idea for Father’s Day is attributed to Sonora Dodd, who was raised by her father after her mother’s death during childbirth. While listening to a sermon at church on Mother’s Day, she thought about all her father had done for her and her siblings and decided fathers should have a day, too. Because Dodd’s father was born in June, she encouraged churches in her area, Spokane, Wash., to honor fathers that month. The first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane in 1910.” It didn’t become a national holiday until 1972 when President Richard Nixon made the proclamation permanent.

As I reflect on Father’s Day, I realize how fortunate I was to have my dad with me since the day I was born. Although he is no longer living, I have fond memories of him and my mother (who is also deceased). My dad never had an opportunity to see his biological father, but his stepfather “Mr. Jimmy” helped my grandmother to raise him and his brother. The four of them, along with my mother, were influential in my life.

One of my fondest memories was in 1964 when my dad, mother and aunt drove us five children to the New York World’s Fair. We were packed like sardines in a 1963 Pontiac Catalina. Dad had just purchased the car and he wanted to put some miles on it. I remember the twelve-hour trip as if it were yesterday. The long stretch of miles from my hometown, Abbeville, S.C to New York City seemed endless. I fell asleep in the backseat to wake up several hours later and discovered we had not arrived. After falling asleep again, I awoke several hours later to finally get a glimpse of NEW YORK CITY! Despite the long trip and cramped quarters, the view of New York City made it all worthwhile. I remember how vast the city seemed. At that time, I was a wide-eyed twelve-year-old with an interest in adventure. We arrived in Long Island to lodge with my Dad’s brother. The next day we  visited the World’s Fair. My favorite exhibit was the “Chevy Show”. It displayed futuristic cars that were aerodynamically designed. Compared to the 1963 Pontiac Catalina, the new cars were smaller and were shaped like a wedge of cheese. To us they looked comical! We visited several other exhibits before returning to my Uncle’s place. The next day, we had fun at Coney Island , eating candy apples, driving bumper cars, riding the roller coaster and ferris wheel. Although we were in New York for only a week, the memory of the trip is forever etched in my memory. I am grateful for the travels and the experiences my parents exposed me to early in life. It helped me to see the world in a different way.

On this Father’s Day, I can honestly say that my Dad, Uncle, and Granddaddy were good examples of manhood that I continue to emulate. In the words of T.D. Jakes, “I want to congratulate all the men out there who are working diligently to be good fathers whether they are stepfathers, biological fathers or just spiritual fathers.”

Daddy with his daughters, sons, and nephews (photo taken in the 1950's)