In 2002, it was my privilege to visit the International Mother’s Day Shrine in the tiny burg of Grafton, WVA. Mother’s Day is our only “International” holiday. It came into being through the efforts of Anna M. Jarvis. Inspired by her mother, Miss Jarvis worked tirelessly to promote her mother’s dream of establishing a worldwide recognition of mothers. Miss Jarvis worked with various legislators until both Houses of Congress passed a resolution in 1914. President Woodrow Wilson approved it and the second Sunday of May became Mother’s Day. The idea caught on and soon every civilized country in the world celebrated it. Miss Jarvis, by the way, never married nor mothered any children.
I guess I’m guilty of never really thinking about how Father’s Day came about but recently I was in the Corner Café in Creston, WA, and on the wall, was the story of Father’s Day.
Sonora Louise Smart was born in Tennessee to William and Ellen Smart. A Civil War Veteran, William eventually moved his family West and settled near Spokane, WA. Ellen Smart died giving birth to her sixth child when Sonora was 16. Being the only daughter and the oldest, she helped raise her siblings that included the infant. She married John Bruce Dodd and started her own family.
She held her father in high esteem and thought a day of celebration should be set aside for fathers (as well as mothers) and worked with the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and the YMCA to make that happen. Father’s Day was officially celebrated for the first time in Spokane, WA on June 19, 1910, and a bill for the holiday’s national recognition was introduced to Congress in 1913.
It became popular across the country and in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Father’s Day program in Spokane. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge suggested that Father’s Day be observed, but apparently wasn’t convinced enough to issue a national proclamation. President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation and made the third Sunday of June Father’s Day in 1966. I guess that wasn’t clear enough so in 1972, President Richard Nixon made Father’s Day a permanent national holiday to be observed on the 3rd Sunday of June.
All’s well that ends well and Sonora Smart Dodd was honored in Spokane, WA at the 1974 World’s Fair for starting the ball rolling for Father’s Day. She died in 1978 at the age of 96.
But all good things will be argued somewhere along the way. Another West Virginian, Grace Golden Clayton, claimed to have organized the first Father’s Day. Although that celebration took place in Fairmont, WVA on July 5, 1908, it is felt that possibly it wasn’t “registered” and therefore, didn’t count.
Well, it doesn’t really matter how official it is, if my tall, thin (why didn’t I get his genes?) eighth-grade educated but very smart “horse trader” Daddy who died when I was 25, were here, I’d celebrate with him no matter who thunk it up! These pictures are of two special Dads, Granddaughter Rebecca’s Dad and Grandson Will’s Dad. God Bless until next week.
Minshall’s RVing Alaska and Canada (A “How to” and “Why not” book) is available thru Amazon.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”