Frank Charney

Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard


Father's Day origin, and Home Page Country's "Mr. Ed"

Two towns vie for the recognition of who first celebrated Father's Day. Fairmont, West Virginia, makes the claim that the first Father's Day celebration was held there in 1908. Fairmont is also remembered as the home town of Mary Lou Retton, the gymnastic star who won a 1984 Olympic gold medal. Father's Day was also celebrated in the state of Washington in 1908.

From West Virginia's standpoint, Father's Day was begun in a church service by a woman, Grace Golden Clayton, who suggested to her Methodist pastor that fathers should be remembered after a deadly mine explosion in the nearby town of Monongah that killed 361 miners, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the United States from Italy. Another possible inspiration for the service was Mother's Day, which was celebrated in 1908 for the first time in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles from Fairmont.

In Washington State, a 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 near Creston, 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.

At about the same time in various towns and cities across American other people were beginning to celebrate a "Father's Day."

Official celebration of Father's Day was a long time coming. In 1916 unofficial support came from President Woodrow Wilson. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Isn't it ironic that Tim Russert, the TV commentator and journalist, died near Father's Day, especially since Tim admired his father so much that he wrote a book titled Big Russ about him.

I also read in the newspaper of the recent death, at age 93, of an elderly Home Page Country father, "Mr. Ed" Bachota, owner and operator of Ebensburg's popular Clark Powell's Restaurant. About two years ago, Ed's establishment suffered a fire and hasn't been in operation since. Plans are pending to reopen Clark Powell's under new ownership. Previously, I had always frequented "Mr. Ed's" bar and restaurant on my visits to Home Page Country. It was always amazing to see "Mr. Ed," at age 90, still standing on his feet behind the bar and serving customers.

Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are all honored on Father's Day.

— Frank Charney



Video highlights of visit in 2005

Help sought for BTHS all-class reunion

Images of America - Vintondale, published

Valley video page updated

Complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonal articles

Today's chuckle

There's a salmonella outbreak; they believe it's linked to tomatoes. You don't realize how much you eat tomatoes until you can't get them anymore. Today I was forced to order a BLB, which is bacon, lettuce, and more bacon.

— Jimmy Kimmel

Thought for today

Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.

— Blaise Pascal

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