The Father of Modern Ski Bindings. That's not him.

Father's Day Salute

Mom-uments are everywhere: Pioneer mother statues link the country's breadth. Motherhood is sacred and revered. The site of the first Mothers' Day is blessed with a chapel. Nothing commemorates the first Fathers' Day, which was proposed after Mothers' Day, in either Spokane, Washington or Fairmont, West Virginia depending on who you believe. Fatherhood isn't sacred, let's face it. In fact, unless he combines it with residence and recompense, a guy's in trouble for knocking a girl up. That's why there are no statues dedicated to the act of fatherhood.

But! There is a kind of fatherhood that Americans applaud and honor. It's the father as accomplisher, and the greater the odds against him, the better. Taking that little crybaby and teaching him to hit the curveball. Grounding the JD until the trash is removed and the homework done. Yep, when someone or something is husbanded to fruition -- it doesn't really matter what --get out the concrete and start making a memorial.

Just take a look at "A Light For The Ages," dedicated to "The Father of Modern Ski Bindings," Sondre Norheim. It's at the Scandinavian Heritage Center in Minot, North Dakota, and it looks like a water tower from another planet. A flame from Norway is incorporated, as is a metal globe held aloft by five 35- foot highs skis. There is also a 12-foot statue of Norheim at the center, holding a pair of skis.

Philo Farnsworth, Father of Television, is honored outside the courthouse in Beaver, Utah.
Philo Farnsworth, Father of Television, is honored outside the courthouse in Beaver, Utah.

America celebrates "The Father of Operative Gynecology" with two monuments. J. Marion Sims, has a monument in Columbia, South Carolina, which says "The first Surgeon of the Ages in ministering to women, treating Empresses and Slaves alike. He was the Founder of the Science of Gynecology and was honoured in all lands." And in New York City, at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street, there is a statue to him. Sims perfected the technique for curing vesicovaginal fistula.

Some successes have many fathers. But not so Rural Free Delivery. Tom Watson, "Father of Rural Free Delivery," was a populist Senator, and his home was called Hickory Hill. It still stands today, in Thompson, Georgia, and you can drive by and touch the mailbox. The same might be said of "The Father of American Minted Coinage." Think about that next time you drive over the Governor James Pollock Memorial Bridge in Milton, Pennsylvania. A plaque at the bridge says: "Sponsored Minted Coinage. In God We Trust."

The Mike Weaver Drain Tile Museum in Geneva, New York is the creation of its 90 year old namesake, but honors the legacy of John Johnson, "The Father of American Tile Drainage." The US Weightlifting Hall of Fame in York, Pennsylvania owes its success to Bob Hoffman, "The Father of World Weightlifting." And Hoffman's York Barbell Co. is the reason York's nickname is "Muscletown." Mission, Texas,the "Home of the Grapefruit," is also home to the Texas Citrus Fiesta (The Parade of Oranges is presided over by King Citrus and Queen Citrianna) But for the purposes of shoehorning Mission into this story, we also note that John H. Shary, "Father of the Texas Citrus Industry," is buried there.

Though fathers aren't usually associated with freedom, two towns went overboard in honoring fathers of South America freedom. Montevideo, Minnesota honors Jose Artigas, "The Father of Uruguayan Independence," with a statue in Artigas Plaza. The statue has been a centerpiece of this Minnesota town's "Fiesta Days" since 1949. Further south, and at about the same time, Bolivar, Missouri, erected a statue to Simon Bolivar, "The Father of Venezuelan Independence." This statue was dedicated by President Truman in 1948, and faces the Bolivar McDonald's.

Bolivar was also known as "The George Washington of South America," and George Washington was known as the "Father of Our Country." And we'd like to recommend that visitors to the Washington DC area take time out to see The Washington Monument. The Washington Masonic Monument in Alexandria, VA, that is. This is a memorial and museum dedicated to George Washington the Mason, and contains a cool collection of various Shriner rooms, including a wall containing hundreds of different fezzes from every Masonic order. Portraits of some of the Shriner presidents (the last one was Ford), and one room as a black light painting of the ancient days. Has the trowel Washington used to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol, and the chair he sat in as presider of this Masonic lodge.

Rivaling Washington in creating the framework for a father's pursuit of happiness is Philo Farnsworth, "The Father of Television" (though he had to withstand a paternity suit on the matter). Farnsworth is honored with four identical statues across the United States -- he ponders a vacuum tube in the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City, in The U.S. Capitol in Washington, outside the county courthouse in Beaver, UT, and one in San Francisco, site of his lab. He also has a museum dedicated to him in his hometown of Rigby, ID.

And as any Dad will tell you, just as important is the "The Father of Remote Control." His name was John Hays Hammond, Jr., and you can see his castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Hammond started the castle in 1926, and lived there until his death in 1965. Typical of this odd place, is the Early American Room, where drunken guests were put up for the night. Hung over, they would awaken and think they were trapped in a room with no way out (the door is covered with wallpaper, and it seems to disappear when closed).

Honoring the inventor of the TV and the Remote starts us thinking about a creating a place dedicated to the old man. But if honoring the father is a little too serious, too stern, a little too Old Testament, then we'd like to suggest something we can all get behind. A National Dads Monument. Where would we put one, if anyone asks? Off of I-75, at Monroe, MI, Home of La-Z-Boy. A giant concrete Lectra-Lounger, tilted back, with a slightly disheveled giant concrete man asleep in it. Tourists could touch a button to hear him snore.

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