With the temperature finally fell under 90 degrees on Friday, June 17, the RoundTable headed out to local businesses and restaurants along the Main-Dempster Mile to ask people what Father’s Day means to them as they gear up for the holiday this weekend.
As always, Father’s Day falls in the middle of Pride Month, and this year, it also happens to share the day with Juneteenth, the newly minted federal holiday of a too-often invisible day in our history that marks the end of slavery in the United States.
With all of those occasions colliding this year, many Evanston residents said they are excited to celebrate Father’s Day from an intersectional lens this weekend with their fellow Black and LGBTQ+ neighbors in mind.
Eli Cooper-Nelson, the general manager at Booked, a children’s and youth bookstore on Main Street, told the RoundTable that he and his team at the store want to offer literary selections that are expansive and inclusive of all three events this weekend: Juneteenth, Father’s Day and Pride Month.
“Father’s Day, in some ways, can be a little complicated being a queer and trans person. That relationship has not always been awesome,” Cooper-Nelson said. “And then, also, I live a block away from my father-in-law, and a mile away from my dad, so for our family, we’ll be making the rounds, too, which is the nature of being local.
“It feels like there’s a lot to acknowledge all at once. … But as a white person, I want to make sure to not overshadow Juneteenth with Father’s Day.”
For many, Father’s Day is about revisiting the memories, rather than the person. Longtime Evanstonians Lillie Parsons and her daughter, Felisha Parsons have lived her for more than 50 years. Lillie’s husband and Felisha’s father was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, so Father’s Day each year means a chance to honor his life, his legacy and his service to the country.
For Felisha, adding the holiday of Juneteenth into the mix feels natural. “To me, it’s just a joyous occasion,” she said. “It’s all about family, remembering our loved ones, commemorating our heritage and just being proud of who we are and all that we’ve contributed to this country.”
Felisha said part of her Father’s Day and Juneteenth plans are participating in the 23rd annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate. The annual spring honord the life and legacy of Byrdsong, a Northwestern University basketball coach who was gunned down by a white supremacist in Skokie in 1999. Felisha knows the Byrdsong family, and she makes a point to come out for the race each year, she said.
At Ten Thousand Villages, manager Cheryl Nester-Detweiler said that the store’s new men’s shirts have proven to be a hit as a Father’s Day gift. Being in retail, she will have to work on Sunday, but she plans to celebrate with her husband and their kids Monday, her day off.
“Whatever my husband wants to do,” Nester-Detweiler said when asked what she her plans were. “Usually, I’ll just let him choose. It’s his day, so let’s just do whatever he wants. I think we’re going to grill, but a lot of times, it’s just spending time together doing family activities. He loves that.”
Outside Hoosier Mama Pie Company on Chicago Avenue, Aaron and Charlotte Jaffe, 92 and 90-years-old respectively, were celebrating their 71st wedding anniversary. Aaron was a state representative in the Illinois legislature for 14 years and a Cook County judge for more than 20. The couple were married on Father’s Day in 1951. As a result, they celebrate Father’s Day and their anniversary combined, usually with their kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids.
Over the years, they have been lucky to have most of their children and grandchildren near them in the Chicago area and be there as their children’s children grew up, Charlotte and Aaron said.
“It’s been quite a ride,” Charlotte said. “We were a team, and I think that team psychology had to evolve, had to develop with respect for one another’s interests, one another’s passions.”