June 18, 2009
This Sunday, we give it up to Dad (or that fatherly figure) who has always been generous with his love and guidance and the occasional back-yard barbecue. (Have you written your letter to daddy saying “I love you” yet?) In the tradition of our Mother’s Day posting, we decided to dig up a few notable dads that are hanging out in that great big den room we call the Smithsonian. Which of the following guys do you think you’d like to have as a fantasy dad? Take our poll and let’s chat in the comments area below! So, cue up some apropos competition music and take a look at the four fatherly figures contending for your affections:
George Washington: He was the first President of the United States and an accomplished military man, serving in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. This founding father—and father of our nation—was also an adoptive parent. After marrying the widow Martha Dandridge Custis, he helped her care for her two children, John (“Jacky”) and Martha (“Patsy”), as if they were his own. Unfortunately, both Patsy and Jacky would die young, with Jacky leaving behind a wife and four children. After his wife remarried, their two youngest kids, Eleanor and George, went to live with George and Martha at Mount Vernon. Face it, George Washington has “daddy” written all over him.
Charles Darwin: Unlike most Victorian-era fathers, Charles Darwin was very attentive to his children. ”To all of us,” one of his daughters later wrote, “he was the most delightful play-fellow, and the most perfect sympathizer. Indeed, it is impossible adequately to describe how delightful a relation his was to his family, whether as children or in their later life.” He also traveled the world over and championed one of the most revolutionary—and hotly debated—scientific theories: evolution, arguing that all species have a common ancestor and, over time, genetically adapt to their environment. This is the historical pop you want if you love science, adventure and to being tucked in at night.
Frank Lloyd Wright: This is the guy who revolutionized our notions of architecture and built some of the most awe-inspiring buildings that dot the American landscape. However, based on his 1932 autobiography, Wright seems to have a perfectly ambivalent attitude toward domestic life, writing, “I hated the sound of the word papa.” John Lloyd Wright, one of Frank’s seven children, has rosier remembrances of dear ol’ dad: “He performed all the functions of fatherhood, only he performed them differently,” John wrote. “He took no personal interest in my religious or academic training. But when it came to luxuries and play, he tenderly took my hand and led the way.” (John would go on to make a landmark contribution to the world of architecture by inventing Lincoln Logs in 1916.) If you think you could get along with a brilliant—albeit spoiled and bratty—father, Wright is the way to go.
Bill Cosby: This man wrote the book on fatherhood. Literally. He also comes with a sensible assortment of sweaters and a lifetime supply of Jell-O pudding. Who could ask for anything more? A standup comedian who later lent his boundless talents to television shows like I Spy, Fat Albert and, of course, The Cosby Show, Cosby also earned a doctorate degree in education and has a host of honorary degrees to his credit. If you want someone smart, funny, talented, dessert-savvy and who has an all-around tender loving way about him, Cosby will be a perfect fit for you. Unfortunately, the collections lack any Cosby artifacts, but we just couldn’t have done this poll without including pop culture’s quintessential father figure. So please, Bill, take the hint and call the Smithsonian!
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