Mother’s Day was created in 1908 and became an official U.S. observance in 1914 yet, Father’s Day was not recognized as a nationwide holiday until 1972. While the value of mothers is incredibly important in a child’s life, a father is equally vital to the well-being of a child. Many articles have been written regarding the ways fathers impact a child’s development. So, this weekend, we honor fathers.
My own father was raised in a home in which his father was an alcoholic and a mother with a sense of humor which brought the family laughter in the difficult times. Though his father struggled with alcoholism, he fiercely loved his children and worked hard to support the family. My father determined to not follow the path of alcohol, enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, and then used the GI bill to go to the University of Illinois and become an architect. He struggled with stuttering as a result of his upbringing, but was determined to get help with that during his college years. He succeeded in both improved speech and eventually became a well-known architect as well as a religious leader. The strength to do these things originated from both parents. Though his father was an alcoholic, he recognized the problem, joined AA, stopped drinking, and stayed with it his entire life. His love for family never wavered and he served his fellowmen in every way he could until he left this world. It takes great strength to do what he did which lets me know, I too, can be strong when facing obstacles. Plus, he was hilarious according to my grandmother.
She tells of the day Grandpa said the car wasn’t running right and they needed to work on it..… “Away they go; Pa says, ‘I’ll have to change the oil. Go ask Ma for a pan. I’ll get under the car and loosen the bolts.’ He loosens the bolts and, splat, all the oil comes down in his face. I hear this loud noise, look out the window. Donnie is laying in the yard shaking. Ray is behind the garage leaning on the wall shaking. Iris and the dog look on. I run out to see what is the matter. I discover they are all laughing and Pa is cussing. He looks out from under the car, face all black with oil. ‘Bring me a towel!’ he shouts. Kids can’t walk for laughing, so I fetch a towel. They finish with the car and start picking up tools. Ray says, ‘What are you going to do with all these parts you have left over?’ ‘Just put them away, we will use them next time.’ They try the car. Pa says she is purring like a kitten. He takes a bath, comes out in the hall in his shorts and goes into his dance; dances all thru the house. Says, ‘Kids, I am the best mechanic this side of the moon.’ (Of course, his dance in the winter time in his long johns is funnier).”
Why did my grandmother have a sense of humor? Why was she so devoted and full of love and caring to not only endure but make life pleasant and fun during the rough years? She surely learned much from her own mother, but she also wrote much about her father and I will relate two of her stories. She writes of her father…..”Winter was always great. When the snow came, my brother, John, and I would build a fort, make lots of snowballs and watch for my dad to come home from the mine. Soon as he got close enuff, we started throwing snowballs. He would start running and scooping up snow and throwing back. This would go on for ½ hour, then he would put up his hands and say, ‘I surrender.’ One day we were watching and waiting; we did not see him. John said, ‘I guess Dad had to work late.’ About that time, Wham! Both of us had our face pushed in the snow and dad was holding us down and laughing, saying, ‘Now who surrenders?” He had come home the back way and got behind us. After that, one watched the front; the other the rear.”
My grandmother also tells how her father took her on walks and told her about the flowers and animals. She writes about this……”One Sunday, Dad said, ‘let’s walk out to the farm and see Lottie and Earl.” We started out admiring the animals and trees in the woods, laughing, talking, enjoying nature. After a half hour I decided I was tired. I said, ‘Daddy, my leg hurts, I can’t walk. You will have to carry me.’ He said, ‘No, I can’t carry you, you hold my hand and I will help you.’ Being a spoiled brat, I sat down on the ground and started to cry. ‘Mutt, you are a nut and the squirrels are going to get you. I am going on.’ I howled louder. I was sure he would not go, but he did. I got up still weeping and calling Daddy. After awhile he stepped out from behind a tree, took my hand, dried my tears, turned me around and we went back home.”
What are the stories of your father, grandfathers, and great grandfathers? How do you find them? If you are fortunate, others have written stories and posted them on line. Try the Family Tree at FamilySearch.org (free) or Public Member Trees at Ancestry.com. Even Findagrave.com (free) will have stories included. Asking questions is where to find the best stories, though. If fathers, grandfathers, or great grandfathers are alive, ask them questions. If they have passed, asked questions of their spouses, siblings, other children, grandchildren, and relatives. The following are a few websites with lists of questions you can ask:
- 50 Questions to Ask Relatives about Family History at thoughtco.com
- Questions for Interviewing Family Members at Ancestry.com
- 100 Questions Every Family Historian Should Ask Their Relatives at familyhistorydaily.com
- Interviewing Your Relatives, a Question Starter Pack at FamilySearch.org
Make this Father’s Day, a day of learning more about the fathers and fore-fathers who helped give you life and contributed to who you are.
If you need help learning more about your fathers gone by, Price Genealogy and Lineages can help.