Daily Update: Sunday, June 21st, 2015

Aloysius Gonzaga and Summer Solstice and Father's Day

Today is the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and today is the Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (died 1591). We also note that today is the date of the Summer Solstice, marking either the Beginning or the Middle of Summer (you decide). And today is Father’s Day.

Born in 1568 in the family castle of Castiglione delle Stivieri in Montua, Lombardy, Italy, today’s Saint had a father who was a compulsive gambler, and he was trained from age four as a soldier and courtier. He suffered from kidney disease, which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. He is said to have taken a private vow of chastity at the age of 9. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received his First Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo in 1580. At age 18, Aloysius signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. The spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine, he tended plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591; catching the plague himself, he died at the age of 23. Canonized in 1726, he is the Patron Saint of young students, Christian youth, Jesuit scholastics, the blind, AIDS patients, and AIDS care-givers. The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26 ′ (at my locale, at 11:38 am CDT). Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months during the spring and summer), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight (14 hours, 7 minutes, and 11 seconds at my locale). Thus the seasonal significance of the Summer solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. In some cultures the Summer Solstice is held to start the season of Summer, while in others cultures it marks the middle of Summer. (Which is why we have Mid-Summer’s Day three or four days after the Start of Summer.) Turning to today’s holiday, modern Father’s Day was invented by Sonora Smart Dodd (died 1978), born in Creston, Washington, who was also the driving force behind its establishment. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. and Dodd was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day to create a day honoring fathers. Although she initially suggested June 5, her own father’s birthday, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane at the Spokane YMCA. A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make the holiday official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. In 1957 Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. At one time it was said that more phone calls were made in the United States during Mother’s Day than during Father’s Day, but that the percentage of collect calls on Father’s Day was much higher, making it the busiest day of the year for collect calls; that was at a time when no one had cell phones, O my best beloved Four or Five Loyal Readers.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading and posted to Facebook both that it was Father’s Day (noting my two favorite fathers, Richard and my son Matthew) and that it was the Summer Solstice. Richard got mad at me when I told him that I thought he said last night that he could not get cash from the ATM yesterday afternoon but got it via his purchase at Wal-Mart, and he said he had never said he had gotten the cash at Wal-Mart. We headed to work, stopping by the ATM (which, being the weekend, was still not working). It was a Heavy Business Volume Day at the casino, and Richard was on Pai Gow all day, with me on Three Card Poker all day. We had one guest at my table who asked to see a pit boss regarding a Flop Poker hand he had last night before we came on the shift (in Flop Poker a player plays with his three card hand, plus any two of the dealer’s three cards; the player said he had three hearts, and the dealer had two, but they had told him he did not have a flush). Later, this same guest’s wife/girlfriend/niece/whatever she was, on the Let It Ride table next to me, won $30,000 ($22,000 after taxes) – and tipped the dealer $25.00. On my breaks I worked on putting National Parks information into the appropriate Galaxy Note 4 application, and tweaked my phone so that I can see if I have voice messages (I hope; I had five I did not know about).

After work (I got the unofficial Booby Prize, as the last dealer on our shift to get tapped out to go home), Richard told me that the Coke machine in ADR was still not operational, and he missed a call from Michelle. He said that he would go to the Trading Post to get my Coke, and would I call Michelle and put it on speaker phone. I demurred, on the grounds that I did not want to call just then if he was going to the Trading Post, and he got mad at me for not wanting to call Michelle. After he got my soda at the Trading Post, I called Michelle and put her on speaker phone; she wished Richard a happy Father’s Day, and then put Matthew on the phone for him to wish Richard a happy Father’s Day and for us to wish him a happy Father’s Day. While all of this was going on the Summer Solstice arrived at 11:38 am. Richard then said that when he got home he was going to change clothes and either go to the Mexican place or the Creswell Lane Restaurant for lunch, and that I could join him if I wanted to. This upset me again, because it sounded like he either didn’t want me to go with him, or that he thought I could not be bothered to go with him, one or the other. We got home (after seeing if the ATM was working yet; of course, it wasn’t, still being the weekend) and changed clothes, and he said he had not meant either of those things. We headed to Opelousas and ate lunch at the Creswell Lane Restaurant, which is the worst name for the best Chinese restaurant in Opelousas. Richard told me that, at the casino, the pit boss had called surveillance regarding the guest who said he had not been paid for a flush on Flop Poker; the dealer had three hearts, and the player had only two hearts, so no flush (you use your three cards and any two of the dealer’s cards, not the other way around). On our way home I finished reading The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom and started reading Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. Once home I went to take my nap.

I woke up from my nap at 5:00 pm (Richard had joined me in bed). I did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom, then started today’s Daily Update. Then I will go back to bed.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Paulinus of Nola, Bishop, and the Optional Memorial of Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Thomas More, Martyr. We will be working at the casino tomorrow, and tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 pm I have my yearly appointment with my Ob/Gyn.

Our Parting Quote on this Sunday afternoon comes to us from Bob Evans, American restaurateur and marketer of pork sausage products. Born in 1918 in Sugar Ridge, Ohio, the family moved to Gallia County in 1929. After his marriage in 1940 he and his wife moved to Gallipolis, Ohio where he bought a restaurant named the Malt Shop in the early 1940s. When he was inducted into the army he sold his interest in the restaurant to a friend; when he returned to civilian life in 1946, he opened another 12-stool diner in Gallipolis. In 1948 he began making sausage on his farm near Gallipolis to serve at the diner. The building where he made the sausage was built with open ends, at the suggestion of his father, so it could be used as a machinery shed if the sausage business failed. In 1953 a group of friends and family recognized the growing demand for the sausage and became business partners by establishing Bob Evans Farms. As the reputation of Bob Evans Sausage grew, he invited people to his farm in Rio Grande, Ohio (some 38 miles as the crow flies from my old home town in West Virginia, with “Rio” pronounced like “Rye-o”), and built a little 12-stool restaurant at the farm to serve the demand. The Sausage Shop at the original farm can now seat 134. By 1957 Bob Evans Sausage was being delivered by a fleet of 14 trucks to nearly 1,800 locations. The company opened a total of four sausage plants to keep up with demand. In 1963 Bob Evans Farms Inc. “went public,” listing on the Nasdaq with an original issue of 160,000 shares. In 1964 hog prices suddenly spiked upward and had alarming effects on the company’s profits. Bob Evans Farms made the decision to try something Evans already knew a little about – the restaurant business. Even after prices came down and the sausage business was thriving again, the company wanted to avoid relying solely on that business, so Evans worked with a designer on the “look” for Bob Evans Restaurants. The well known “Steamboat Victorian” style was chosen with the now-familiar red-and-white color scheme. Chillicothe, Ohio was the location of the first of the “new” Bob Evans Restaurants. By the early 1970s expansion was entirely in Ohio, but by the late 1970s expansion into other states was underway. (By way of a personal note, I grew up along the Ohio River in West Virginia, (which I still to this day say as “the Ah-Hi-Ah River”) and from the mid-60s through the early 1970s my mother had one of her doctors at the hospital in Gallipolis. Dad would drive down to Point Pleasant, and we would cross the Ohio, seeing the Tu Endie Wei State Park monument in Point Pleasant on the West Virginia side of the river and seeing the old supports for the Silver Bridge on the Ohio side of the river. We were quite familiar with the Bob Evans Farm near Gallipolis and the Bob Evans Restaurant in Pomeroy, Ohio, which is a town that is two blocks wide and about four miles long. I did not realize until many years later that the state of Ohio is about 85% flat; the only hilly part is the part that lines the Ohio River.) By 1983 the restaurant division could count 100 units. Evans stayed in his long-time positions as a director and president of the company until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1986. He remained actively involved in his community and numerous causes. In 1987 the Bob Evans Farm, also known as Woods Old Homestead, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2005 Evans was honored by The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio as an inaugural I’m a Child of Appalachia honoree for his philanthropic efforts, entrepreneurial success and support of improved access to higher education in the region. In 2013 loyal Bob Evans fans sent a petition to the White House with 40,384 signatures (this number has since increased) requesting the production of a musical in support of Bob Evans and Bob Evans Restaurants (died 2007): “We served a lot of breakfasts, but we couldn’t get any decent sausage. So I decided to start making my own from hogs raised right on our farm, using all the best parts of the hog, including the hams and tenderloins. You might say the truck drivers did my research for me. They would tell me that this was the best sausage they ever had, and then buy 10-pound tubs to take home.”

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