In 1965 I was in 4th grade. My teacher, Miss Troyer, announced an annual county-wide competition and encouraged us all to enter it by writing an essay on this topic: “Why My Father Should Be Chosen Father of the Year.”
I was wildly enthusiastic about the idea because I had the perfect father to submit. The essay had to be two pages long, which seemed like a lot. But written in the size of a typical 11-year-old’s cursive penmanship, it was probably about 100 words.
My essay was full of Dad’s best attributes and general goodness, including an insightful musing of how he always welcomed my friends (true); and, even if they brought their dogs with them, “he wouldn’t mind because he likes dogs, too!” (also, true). Come ???????? – could any other father compete against a bio like that?!
The first draft was a breeze and Miss Troyer loved it! So much, in fact, she moved it to the next level. Personally, that level turned into something that felt like one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell because Miss Troyer insisted it was written in INK. With NO mistakes. Or in other words, she’d issued a near-impossible assignment due to ink and my troubled history of working together.
So, about a week and a couple of reams of paper later, I presented her a perfect-???????????? copy that, somehow, resulted in Dad being named Father of the Year.
On the day the $200 and commemorative plaque were awarded, I wore my best ensemble, including white gloves, which, in the day, seemed to elevate any event to one that was just slightly more glorious. Dad picked me up on his lunch hour and drove me downtown where he received his award and our picture was taken by our local newspaper. What a day we had!
In typical style, Dad used his $200 award to buy a present for each person in our family (including our dog, Ginger); unaware, apparently, that HE was our gift.
Of course, the much shorter family-version of this story is that my sister, brother, and I believed our Dad was Father of the Year EVERY year; and in 1965, he even got a plaque for it.
The other years, I’m pretty sure, he got ties.