Blue Ribbon: A True Ohio Story in Honor of Father's Day

"Dads Card" by deb spoons via

         A friend, writer, and colleague of mine recently had this story published in the newspaper (yes, those black and whites still exist).

    Her short story begins with her own father and his recollection of his own dad, and the not-so-terrific upbringing he had. Then she shares with us that although her father didn't have it very good growing up (his own dad wasn't the greatest role model) he still did a good job with her. Enjoy this sweet story, I did...

         Blue ribbons are earned.  No one casually hands out first prizes and no one gives out honorable dads.   I am proud to say that I am the daughter of a Blue Ribbon Dad.
         Like many young men today, my dad did not have a positive role model when it came to fathers. His parents divorced because his dad refused to work. Dad’s childhood was one of disappointments while living with his father. At the age of seven, he started delivering newspapers and was expected to contribute his earnings to the household. It is hard to imagine that one Christmas he eagerly anticipated a promised bicycle, but instead he was cruelly handed a picture post card of a bike.
         I knew that my dad’s childhood was harsh. I recently asked, “How did you learn to be such a great dad? “ He tentatively answered that summers on Uncle Emerson’s farm had continued to teach him the value of hard work and there was still time for fishing and playing baseball.  He was too modest to say, “I just figured it out.”
         After honorably serving in the Navy during World War II, he married my mom. While attending church together, Dad learned that God and family came first. Even when his upholstery skills were in demand, my dad respected the commandment to honor the Sabbath. “I do not work on Sunday,” he boldly told his customers. Years later, I had a visual picture of this commitment while watching Orthodox Jewish families in my neighborhood walking to service out of respect for their day of rest. 
         On week nights I chose to hang out with my dad in the garage upholstery shop. He taught me how to remove soiled furniture covers and make cloth covered buttons. He paid me for my work and he let me keep my earnings. Coins were often discovered in the chair pockets, and he let me keep them, too. We listened to the radio while we worked. We hoped that the announcer would shout that our International Hockey League team scored an out of town goal. When the Dayton Gems were in town, we had season tickets and rang cow bells when the puck went into the net. Recently dad and I commented on what great times we shared at Hara Arena.
         My dad was first rate when it came to being a hands on sort of dad. He patiently stopped his work and was not afraid to let me try to sew on the speedy industrial machine.  Next, with metal tacks pricking my tongue, he taught me how to use the magnetic hammer to coax them out of my mouth and how to use them to recover a footstool. He was a proud dad when my entries earned blue ribbons in the Junior Division of the Ohio State Fair.
         Thankfully, I reminisce with my dad regularly while we visit at his Elyria retirement home.  Last week he called and boyishly reported, “I got the blue ribbon.”  Yes, my dad can add this one to his Leading Age   Art Competition awards for his unique upholstered doll furniture.  My hard working dad is humble about successes during what he describes as “my piano keys birthday year.” He is eighty eight. Dad has ribbons of recognition, but he does not need to wear one to prove that he is a Blue Ribbon Dad.
         The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day. It is a special day even for men who do not have a box of blue ribbons.  My dad has made it easy for me to recall one of the first verses I memorized as a child. Scripture in both the Old and New Testament commands us to “Honor your father…”
         Henry Hoop did not have a fatherly role model; he became one.

This story rings true with Family Matters. While my upbringing was less than stellar (I grew up sans-mommy) I somehow figured it out, so now my own children won't have to suffer. No matter our past, parenting can become second nature if we use these as a guide:

- Know you are not your parents.
- Your past is not your future.
- If it didn't work when you were a child, don't repeat it with your own kids.
- Treat your children the way you'd like to be treated.
- Use common sense as your guide as often as possible.

You got this.

 A big thank you to Kevin Schaner for sharing story with us.
Kevin can be contacted via the following:


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