Before the age of Internet phone service and cellular plans with all-you-can-eat nights and weekends, Father's Day held the dubious distinction of being the busiest of the year for collect phone calls.
In other words, on the third Sunday of each June, Americans would a) ring their fathers to thank them for all they’ve done, and b) make them pay for the call. Some gift — though we can't completely blame children for their confusion.
Although its roots are a bit hazy, the existence of Father's Day is generally attributed to the efforts of a daughter named Sonora Smart Dodd, of Spokane, Wash. In 1909, she heard a Mother's Day sermon in church and wondered why men such as her father, a Civil War veteran who raised six children after his wife died, had no day of their own.
Dodd organized a church service the next June (her father’s birth month), and the idea soon caught on. Although it was recognized by President Wilson in 1916, Calvin Coolidge in 1924, Congress in 1956 and Lyndon Johnson in 1966, Father's Day wasn't officially pegged to the third Sunday in June until 1972. Richard Nixon signed it into law just 58 years after the official establishment of Mother's Day.
As long as there has been a Father's Day, official or unofficial, there has been the problem of what to get the paterfamilias, who generally doesn't want or ask for much. When Dad desires something, he just goes out and gets it. So, when holidays require that we get something for our fathers, the results are often stultifying: ties, shirts, belts, socks and other sartorial afterthoughts, probably only slightly more welcome than the collect calls of yore.
Dad deserves (and, in fact, may secretly want) better — classic keepsakes, high-tech toys and slick accessories, to be precise. For this Father's Day, we’ve assembled a list of impressive goodies for the tasteful dads of the world.
Is he a runner? A golfer? We’ve got gear for that. Is he looking for a cellphone with a little more style? Tell him to stop shopping around; we’ll help you get him one that’s sleek, slim and technologically advanced. Is he looking forward to a summer outside? We’ve got lightweight shades to keep him looking cool (but parental) during the day and a warm fireplace for post-barbecue nights. We’ve even included a laptop computer that allows Dad to do spreadsheets, then watch “Vertigo” in 3-D.
We know, we know. The hubbub around Father's Day makes many dads uncomfortable — after all, part of the art of fatherhood is its quiet fortitude. Dad doesn’t call attention to himself; he just does his job. But with one of our picks, he just may be calling you in gratitude on Father's Day. Collect, of course.