Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a "father's day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart. William Smart, a Civil War veteran, was widowed when his wife (Mrs. Dodd's mother) died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a "father's day.".

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge supported the idea of a national Father's Day. Finally in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.

I have been thinking a lot about my father lately... something to do with Father's Day I suppose. He died when he was 52 years old from pancreatic cancer. My mother was 50 years old at that time. Dad was a high school science teacher at Spangle WA. and he swore that when I got into high school he would stop teaching because he did not want to teach me anything that required logic! I still do not understand his reasoning.. but suspect it could have something to do with little things like naming the first paramecium and amoeba that my partner and I found on our microscope slide. We gave a small burial ceremony for them when we flushed them down the sink...

True to his word, dad did quit teaching when I was a freshman in high school and went into real estate and eventually became an insurance salesman / trainer. Dad was a true German complete with a German temper. He absolutely loved life and thought that most challenges he faced were there for him to beat and that just meant they were fun. Dad loved hunting, and running hunting dogs, and he love riding horses and photography. And Dad loved his family.

I spent most of my youth riding horses or spending time around horses because dad wanted the family to do things together. I do not remember any time after about 4 years of age that I particularly liked being around horses but that was family time and well.... I loved my family too.

I remember one time when I was about 12. I was practicing to make brownies for the state fair. Every time I tried to make brownies my mom had to hover over my shoulder and instruct me on how to cook, so one day I waited for her to take a nap. As soon as she went to sleep I started mixing the brownies. I added the flour, sugar, Crisco, vanilla, cocoa, salt etc. and then mixed it thoroughly and put it in the pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees as stated on the recipe. Then I went into the living room to read. About 10 minutes into the book I decided I was bored and so I decided to go for a walk. It was particularly sunny that day and the fields were completely soak from spring rains so there was about a foot to 2 feet of mud standing in the fields and of course that is where I went walking. After about 15 minutes I was exhausted. The mud packed around my boots and each foot weighed about 50 pounds. I went back home and by the time I got there the smell of the brownies in the oven was magnificent. I realized I had been gone about an hour though and I really expected the brownies would be burnt. They weren't. Instead, they didn't look done. The top of the brownies was bubbling like batter still so I put them back in the oven for some more time. Every time i checked the brownies to see if they were done I saw the same thing and thought maybe something was wrong with the oven since they did not seem to be getting done. After another hour, my mom woke up from her nap and I told her about the brownies. She looked in the oven and sure enough they still did not seem done. So mom put the brownies in the oven again and turned up the oven a little. After another half hour (now the brownies had been cooking for almost three hours) she finally said well something is wrong with the oven and she pulled out the brownies.

When we got the brownies on the oven mom started looking at them and said,"Rene these brownies seem to be done but why are they bubbling?" Neither of us had an answer. So we left the brownies to cool. An hour later we came into look at the brownies only to find them swimming in a pool of liquid! It was them my mom started asking me about how much of each ingredient I added to the brownies. I told her each ingredient including the cup of crisco... and well you get the point. The recipe called for 1/8 C. of Crisco and I just misread the recipe.

It was about this time my father came home from work. He looked at the brownies took the pan outside and poured off the excess oil then came back in with the brownies and cut one brownie off for himself. He then sat at the table and ate his brownie and proceeded to tell me how wonderful he thought they were. (note: mom threw the rest of the brownies in the trash after I had gone to sleep.)I knew they were awful but in one of many instances, dad was my hero. As I got older I sometimes forgot that but I would remember in time. Dad is still my hero and I miss him. It is these memories I recall when I celebrate life with my father.. my hero. I miss you dad. Happy Father's Day!

Here is a brownie recipe for all you dads. INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup butter 1 cup white sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 3 tablespoons butter, softened 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup confectioners' sugar READ REVIEWS (2,069) Review/Rate This Recipe Save To Recipe Box Add to Shopping List Add a Personal Note Post a Recipe Photo Post a Favorite Food List Create a Menu DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

"If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right." - Bill Cosby

Memories of dad on Whidbey Island.

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