Father’s Day dates back to 1910, just a few years after Mother’s Day came into being, and in 1963 TIME noted that the holiday was also following its precursor on the road to commercialism. But rather than bemoan the materialism, the magazine used it as a window into the state of fatherhood in the United States.
“Father‘s Day, which is beginning to edge into equal, if less throat-lumping, status with Mother’s Day, came and passed last week in a blaze of angled advertising,” TIME noted. “The things the stores picked out for special Father‘s Day promotion (after the usual collection of ties, bathrobes and gold-plated putters) added up to a touching composite picture of the National Daddy.”
So what exactly did these gifts tell us? For one thing, dad needed some help:
Other takeaways were that dad had no will power (“a cigarette case with a time lock that will open only at preset intervals”), was young at heart (“an I Am an Executive pencil box”) and needed help making decisions (“a swiveled silver dollar mounted on a paperweight, for mature heads-or-tails judgment”).
It’s enough to make you think twice before getting your father some inadvertently meaningful tchotchke. At least there’s always room for another necktie.
Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: Bringing Up Father