Tuesday, June 05, 2012

In Praise of Fathers

Father's Day graphicAccording to Bill Cosby, “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap on a rope.” George Strait’s song "Love without End, Amen" was #1 on the charts for five weeks in 1990. He sang that “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then. It’s a love without end, amen; it’s a love without end, amen.” Holly Dunn wrote "Daddy’s Hands" originally as a poem to be a gift for her father and then released it as a song in 1986 when she landed a deal with MTM (Mary Tyler Moore) Records. “I remember daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer and reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare…” became a Top-10 hit.

This year Father's Day will be celebrated on June 17. There is evidence that the first Father’s Day could have been celebrated as long ago as 4,000 years. Scholars discovered that a young boy named Elmesu carved wishes for good health and a long life on a clay tablet for his father. No one knows what became of the young man, but it is a good story that has survived. The modern Father’s Day that we celebrate started with Sonora Louise Smart Dodd. After she heard a Mother’s Day sermon delivered by her minister in Spokane, Washington, in 1909, she decided that fathers should also be honored, particularly hers, since William Jackson Smart raised his six children by himself after his wife died in childbirth. Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Lyndon Johnson made efforts to promote and popularize the celebration of Father’s Day, but it was Richard Nixon who established a permanent national observance of the holiday in 1972. Sonora Smart Dodd was honored for her contribution at the World’s Fair in 1974.

How will you celebrate this Father’s Day? What are some of your favorite memories of times spent with your dad? We have titles in Arts, Literature, and Sports that you can choose to read about famous and not-so-famous fathers and their relationships with their children. Almost a Family by John Darnton is a memoir about a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and bestselling author and what he describes as his lifelong chase after his father’s shadow. His father had died while in Papua New Guinea covering WWII for The Times. He explores the effect his father’s death had on his family and his own career.

Along the Way: the Journey of a Father and Son by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez is a dual memoir that recounts their history in alternating chapters and spans more than fifty years of family memories. Major League Dads: Baseball’s Best Players Reflect on the Fathers Who Inspired Them to Love the Game by Kevin Neary will appeal to sports lovers, particularly baseball fans. Each player interviewed talks about his dad as coach both of baseball and life. Davis Phinney’s book, The Happiness of Pursuit: A Father’s Courage, a Son’s Love and Life’s Steepest Climb explores the father’s transition from an Olympic cyclist and medalist to a man crippled by early-onset Parkinson’s. Read how he overcomes this dark period in his life by changing his focus and goes on to beat the Body Snatcher. If you have children with whom sharing activities is an option, try one of Todd Davis’s books Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids or Handy Dad in the Great Outdoors: More than 30 Super-Cool Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids. You’re bound to get some great ideas for projects to try.

These are just a few of the books we have in our department. Please check the catalog under the subject headings “fathers and sons” and “fathers and daughters” for books available in all the other departments and branches at the Birmingham Public Library. You are sure to find a good read.

Mary Branch
Arts, Literature and Sports Department
Central Library

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