Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hey, Dad! It's Your Day by Tia Dani



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When we decided to write about Father's Day, a friend, father of two and a non-romance writer, asked, "How can Father's Day have anything to do with writing a romance novel?"

"Au contraire," Tia replied. "Fatherhood could have much to do with it." She mentioned books where the beloved heroes were raising a child or children...and how it only took a heroine's arrival to sweeten the mix. And, of course, men, who weren't fathers, but became one under unusual circumstances. She proceeded to inform him about Secret Baby books.

He shook his head. "Secret babies? You're kidding, right?"

"Nope." She grinned. "There are even stories where the heroine (the mother) doesn't know when or how her baby was conceived."

"Oh." He walked away totally befuddled.

We loved it. Befuddling men is fun.

Let's take a look at the special day that venerates those proud, paternal-driven papas. Fathers have been around since Adam first fertilized Eve, but, it wasn't until the early1900's ministers and women's magazines seriously touted the righteousness of fatherhood. Whatever for we have no idea. We decided to go look into the reason.

It began with Mr. William Jackson Smart. His daughter, Sonora Smart (a neat first name, isn't it?), aka Mrs. John Bruce Dodd of Spokane Washington, came up with the idea in 1909 while listening to a Mother's Day sermon (a holiday which originated two years earlier.)

Sonora, along with five brothers, had been raised by their widowed father, a Civil War veteran. Following the death of his wife in childbirth, Smart struggled to work his eastern Washington farm, while keeping his children clothed, fed and properly reared.

Mr. Smart, an admirable man, considering in the early 20th Century men frequently lost their wives to childbirth. The majority remarried quickly so they wouldn't have to care for children, specifically newborn infants, alone.

Widowed men, often farmers, looked for a widow with children. Marrying her, he not only had a woman seeing to his home and children, her offspring were needed help with the never-ending farm chores. Many second marriages turned into genuine love, others didn't, but both ways, more children were born and families often grew as large as 6 to 15 kids living at home at one time. Now, that's what we call being a fertile father.

Sonora Dodd's proposal was met with enthusiasm by local ministers. The date suggested was the fifth of June (William Smart's birthday), but many of the ministers needed more time to write their sermons, so the celebration was moved to the 19th, the third Sunday of the month.

Word spread and newspapers across the country endorsed this new holiday. One notable supporter to Mrs. Dodd's idea was orator and political leader William Jennings Bryan. He wrote "...too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the relation between parent and child." However, even with notable support and the holiday being accepted across the nation, members of the all-male Congress at the time felt to proclaim the day official might be interpreted as a self-congratulatory pat on the back. (Go figure, huh?) So the holiday remained a minor one.

But it didn't remain a silent one. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the holiday, and President Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1924 that states, if they so wished, should do whatever they wanted as far as celebrating the holiday.

In 1937, New York City founded a National Father's Day Committee and decided to choose a theme for each Father's Day and select a Father of the Year.

In 1957, Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote to Congress saying Americans should honor both parents. To single out just one and omit the other was "...the most grievous insult imaginable."

Yet, it wasn’t until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June to be identified as Father's Day. In April of 1972, President Richard Nixon signed it into Public Law 92-278.

How about that? It took 62 years for fathers to be officially recognized!

Go...Dads!

Here's a bit of trivia for you. Did you know the Romans observed a Father's Day, every February...but...just for dead ones. Think about it. It could be an interesting twist for a Secret Baby story.

Here's some of our family photos. 




Tia's great-grandparents, George and Katharina Meir (later changed to Meyers) because my great-grandfather wanted to sound more American.
Katharina married George after he lost his first wife, leaving him with two children. Katharina too was a widow with three children. All together they had 10 children.  And, yes, they had a large farm. Everyone worked. Including my grandmother, Elizabeth. Despite she was a girl, she worked along side her father out in the fields


Tia with her dad. Note bandage on my chin. Fell off a stone ledge and split open my chin. Had to have stitches. What can I say, I was quite a rough and tumble kid.


 Grandparents JW and Emma Eaton. Emma was also a second wife. However they didn’t live on a farm. My grandfather owned a barbershop and ice cream parlor. Can’t remember if my grandmother had been married before. I don’t think she had been. But between them they had quite a few children. Can’t remember right now what the total was, darn it. What I do remember my dad was the last one born.

                                                                       Dani and her dad.
            Yes, I'm the little baby he's holding. Uncle Hershel sitting on the curb. This is in southern California.
                                                                                                                                           

Dani's grandparents.
Grandpa H.L Christian and his second wife, Mae. Grandpa had 6 kids when she married him and together they had 6 more including my mom. The little girl in picture is my mother. All worked the farm in Arkansas.





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