Father’s Day in the United States

A History of the Origins of Dad’s Holiday and Some Father’s Day Gift Suggestions

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Happy Father's Day!
Happy Father’s Day!
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Here in the US, Father’s Day follows close on the heels of Mother’s Day. And, like that day of maternal honor, it has its own history. Actually, there are two commonly accepted stories of when Father’s Day in the US had its debut. Which one you subscribe to is fine. Both if you prefer; it’s a big tent. Let’s look at the left coast story first.

Founder: Sonora Smart Dodd

Date: 1910. Place: Washington state. Dodd was attending Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909 when she reflected that mothers were on the receiving end of all the acclaim but fathers were getting short-changed with respect to a day of praise.

No wonder this rankled her. Her own father– William Smart, a Civil War veteran–became a widower–when his wife died as she gave birth to their sixth child. He went on to raise the six children by himself on their Washington homestead.

Her preferred date was June 5th. This was the anniversary of her father’s passing so it was the obvious choice to designate to celebrate Father’s Day, but because of faulty planning, the initial celebration located in Spokane, Washington was shifted to the third Sunday in June. Close enough. Now, let’s look at the second story.



Founder: Grace Golden Clayton

Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908–a deadly mine explosion had just killed 361 men. Clayton suggested to the minister of the local Methodist church that they hold services to celebrate fathers. Those taking up the banner of support, such as memory lasts longer than a doo-dad. Now that the Covid-19 lockdown has eased, I suppose we can do that again. Here are some popular gifts.

  • Tools. Always a favorite, tools are essential for hobbies and DIY projects. I’m a big proponent of the Ryobi 18V ONE+ family of power tools. Since all the tools operate off the same battery type, compatibility is guaranteed. Hand tools are always a good choice as well.
  • Sports watch. Most fathers are into some kind of fitness today. It can be running, like me, golf, cycling, hiking, etc. Whatever it is, chances are there’s a specific Garmin GPS sports watch for it. I’ve been using Garmin watches for years. Today’s watches do so much.
  • Personal weather station. Is dad a weather geek? Does he like gadgets? I recently installed an Ambient weather station in my front yard. I have the display console on my desk in my home office. The Weather Channel is fine but now I know what’s happening right at my house, not just what is happening generically in the general area. When I step out the front door for a run, I need to know not only the heat but also the humidity.
  • Is dad a reader? I’m a big Kindle fan. I still have my Kindle Paperwhite but I’ve upgraded to the Fire HD 10 Tablet. It’s got the Kindle plus all the functionality to keep up with social platforms, email, and more. I wish I had this when I was making the long commute to work on the Metro bus and train.
  • Cold Brew coffee maker. I love my piping hot coffee in the morning but nothing beats a glass of cold brew in the afternoon. It’s available in the grocery store but my issue is that it’s too expensive because it is currently trendy with hipsters. My solution? I brew my own in the fridge. Read my review of the Zulay Cold Brew Coffee Maker.

Although many other countries have their own customs to pay homage to dad, Father’s Day in the United States is really a great holiday. Even during these trying times when we are pelted with such juvenile bromides as “patriarchy,” “old white men,” and “male oppression,” there still lingers a core of reverence for the traditional family unit.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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