Men who became fathers in the 50’s and early 60’s found themselves in a world where their roles were clearly defined: work hard to support your family, own a home, own a car, have nice furniture and the newest appliances, get promoted, know how to barbecue, mow the lawn, build a patio. If you had to travel all week to make this happen, so be it. And, remember, it was car travel then, not airplane travel. If you were sick of restaurant food and eating alone, or sleeping in motel rooms, keep it to yourself. Often they came home when we were in bed. On weekends, there were lawns to mow, gardens to weed, garage doors to be fixed and you didn’t interrupt him while he worked. If you misbehaved your mother might say “wait til your father gets home”. Whether she told him or not, you eyed him with caution the next time you saw him. If you made him laugh or made him proud, your heart would swell with happiness.
When the late 60’s and early 70’s arrived, these fathers found themselves in the firing line. They were insensitive. They were sexist. They put their jobs ahead of family. They took what mattered for granted (what the 60s’ decided mattered). They must have scratched their heads in bewilderment but that too, they would have kept to themselves because you certainly didn’t share your feelings if you were a 50’s dad.
Our fathers were always curious about everything and anything. No Google back then so they found their answers the old fashioned way. They researched, read and pondered. If they saw someone doing something that interested them, they’d stop the car and ask. They’d relay that information to the backseat. Sometimes we were listening, sometimes not. But we would remember those snippets of information when something similar caught our interest. That curiosity would foster our own. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has made life much more interesting for us.
They taught us to love good food, good books, good movies, good music. They took us on Sunday drives, destination unknown. They drove for hours to take us on vacation so we could enjoy “Frontier Town”, “Storybook Land” or “Santa’s Village”. They showed us the first space capsule and the battlefield of Gettysburg. From those trips we learned to appreciate experiences. There must have been times, they would have happily left us by the side of the road, just to have some peace in the car, but they didn’t. We remembered that when our own kids were fighting in the back seat while we thought: “those little ingrates”. We knew what those experiences had brought to our own lives and we wanted the same for our children.
They got up every morning and went to work. If they were fortunate, they loved what they did. If they were unhappy, they never said it. They tried to change it. If they couldn’t change it, they made the best of it.
They kept us safe, always. You couldn’t imagine that your father was ever afraid and you never felt afraid when he was there.
One of the gifts of adulthood is that your father is easier around you and you around him. You talk books and movies and trips to museums. You laugh together, you reminisce. You work side by side on projects: painting, canning, home repairs and you’re grateful for the advice and the company. There are trips, different than when you were a child, but better because you enjoy each other. You appreciate and savor the experience. You’re no longer bothering him to buy you a souvenir. The experience is the souvenir. He’s your dad and in some ways, you’re still his little girl as trite as that may sound.
On this Father’s Day, we’d like to thank our fathers. We can see how hard they worked and how much they must have sacrificed of themselves to do what was expected of them. While everyone else was trying to “find themselves”, they kept on doing what they did best. For what they taught us and what they gave us, which is one in the same, we say thank you.
Writing this, we realized that our fathers, had they known each other, would have been friends. In this, we are our father’s daughters. So Happy Fathers Day with tons of love and gratitude to the father who is still with us and the one who is with us in spirit.
THE MENU: JACKPOT CASSEROLE, TOSSED SALAD, PALACINKAS
Jackpot Casserole: Sandy’s Dad’s go-to casserole for potluck suppers for Scouts or Men’s Club dinners
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 can Cambell’s condensed tomato soup
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 8 oz thin egg noodles
- 1 can creamed corn
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Brown meat in cast iron frying pan. Add onions and cook and soft. Add tomato soup,water and noodles. Cook until noodles are tender, stirring frequently. Add creamed corn and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Mix well. Top with remaining grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes at 350.
- 1 cup flour, sifted
- 1 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsps. sugar
- 1 tbsp. melted butter
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Combine sifted flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the whole eggs, one at a time. Whisk well after each addition. Add enough milk to make a thin batter. I usually use all of the milk. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the melted butter. Pour about 1/2 cup batter into a heated, lightly greased skilled. Swirl around the skillet to coat bottom of pan. When brown on underside, flip over to brown other side. Spread with jam, jelly, preserve or marmalade. Roll and serve. You can also just sprinkle with powdered sugar.