FATHER's Day is not, as one might suppose, a male version of Mother's Day. In the first place a man didn't even think it up. A woman did. Mrs. John Bruce Dodd, in 1909, persuaded the Ministerial Society of Spokane, Wash., to have a church service devoted to the fathers of the community - presumably to pray for them. They may have been off playing golf instead of coming to church.
Although Spokane started praying for fathers in 1909, it was not until 1924 that President Calvin Coolidge, hardly a great father-image, recommended the day for national observance.
Mother's Day was promoted for the honor and respect - if not the reverence - of motherhood. But Father's Day? The reason for Father's Day, according to official words from the White House, was, in part, ``To impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.'' That hardly sounds like a hymn of jubilant praise. It somehow conjures up a picture of fathers sneaking out the back door when the rent is due and the baby is crying.
Mother's Day has become international. For whatever reason, the world's homage towards mother has made the day a smashing commercial success, compared with a somewhat impecunious Father's Day. Greeting card business aside, in the two weeks before Mother's Day flower shops do a landslide business, phone lines bog down, candy sales skyrocket, restaurants serve long lines. The variety of gifts appropriate for mom add significantly to the country's gross national product growth and gives Christmas a run for the money.
Yet fathers seldom know when Father's Day is and would feel embarrassed if too much were made of it. Generally one doesn't take dad out to dinner. It's better to let him burn a steak on the grill in the backyard. Although the red or white rose is said to be the Father's Day symbol, he would feel foolish getting a bouquet. In short, fathers are very happy with the status quo.
Down at the town tennis courts, one chap said his daughter gave him a box of chocolates but there were four pieces missing. He thinks they were the maple creams.