Well, Father's Day 2011 is history. Hey, dads, did you dodge a bullet this year?
Gift giving for dad is always problematic. Being a father now for nearly 30 years, I can certainly identify with the touchy situation that my own dad was put in on Father's Day back in the 1950s. As they always say, "What do you give a man who has everything?"
I found an interesting list online last week. It was the Top 5 Father's Day gifts of the 1950s. I am sure my dad got at least a half dozen of each of these items from his little ones.
At No. 5 for the 1950s was "car accessories." That makes sense. While a little impersonal, who still doesn't like to get a little something to make driving more enjoyable. And remember, in the 1950s most people usually had only one car, most moms stayed at home, and the auto was clearly "Dad's Domain." So bring on the Simoniz, the beaded lumbar seat cushions and the fuzzy dice to hang over the rear view mirror!
At number No. 4 we find "sports accessories." Considering that in the 1950s certain sports were more popular than they are now, it is no surprise that under this heading we find the top sports gift for dad to have something to do with bowling. How about a new leather bag (with dad's name stitched on the side?). Or a bowling glove (what was that anyway)? Or shoes? I'll bet very few "bowling accessories" made it to dad's lap this Father's Day, 2011.
Next on the list of 1950s Father's Day favorites we find "record albums." You do remember record albums, don't you? Well, Dad must have liked them (at least a little more than bowling gloves). So we all marched off to our local record stores and scooped up the latest albums from Mitch Miller, Dave Brubeck, Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima. I remember going to the record store in Sidney and picking out an album for my dad, in 1959. It had a very catchy cover with a jolly red-haired woman on it playing the piano. My Dad liked piano players. I'd never heard of the artist. When I presented "Rusty Warren Knockers Up!" to the clerk, he sternly looked down at me and said, "You march that record right back to the rack, young man!" I didn't understand why at 10 years old. Today at 62, I actually have that record.
No 2 on the list was a tie between (believe it or not) ties and grilling items. Ties ... the fruitcakes of Father's Day. I haven't worn a necktie 10 times in 10 years. But in the "Mad Men" era of the 1950s, every man wore one. My dad wore one even when he was butchering a bloody side of beef at our grocery store.
As for grilling items, that was an edgy gift. Grilling was a new post-World War II activity, so the horizon was full of creative and zany new cookout accessories. And you couldn't go wrong with them. What dad didn't like to get a pair of giant gingham cooking mitts, or a branding iron tool with his initials on it, or an apron that said "Bar-B-Q God"? Mine loved them.
Now here is the oddity. On the list I checked, the No. 1 Father's Day gift of the 1950s was "smoking accessories." Can you believe it? Smoking was still kind of fun in those days. Everybody smoked. Everywhere. So the gift made sense; engraved cigarette lighters, big gaudy ashtrays, a few expensive (under a dollar, of course) cigars with exotic cigar bands wrapped around them. They were wonderful gifts.
But pipes ... now you were talking Hall of Fame Father's Day gifts.
Hand-carved Meerschaum pipes, pipe tools, tobacco pouches, fancy wooden matches. Yes, pipes were fertile ground on dad's day. And what was the No. 1 "smoking accessory?" Something called a smoking stand. Yes, a contraption that combined all of the items just listed. It usually sat next to Dad's easy chair and was "Smoking Central" for him. My dad had one. It weighed 30 pounds. It was an Art Deco work of art. It cost $12 worth of S&H Green Stamps at the Sidney Sears store. I think we got $10 for it in a garage sale last year.
So, how about it dads? How did you make out this year? Ties? A barbecue chef's hat? Customized golf tees? Some fuzzy dice? Did you dodge a bullet this year?
Yeah. Me neither.
Now, where is that Rusty Warren record.....
I'll catch you in two.
'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.