Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County dads recall Father's Day gifts past and present


The last thing on Brandon Prince's mind this Father's Day is an ugly tie. Or socks. Or boxer shorts. Prince, 27, is thinking about three sets of onesies. Plenty of booties. A triple stroller and three car seats. And just how many diapers his new triplets will go through in one day. Prince's girlfriend Betty Jackson, 28, delivered three girls at 4:57 p.m. Thursday at Spring Hill Regional.

First came Anabelle, then Savannah and Isabella.

It's going to be a full house for the Brooksville couple — Jackson has an 8-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. They have received plenty of presents from family and friends in the form of baby supplies.

The triplets — born at 33 weeks — were pink and wailing in the neonatel intensive care unit Friday afternoon. Prince, a mechanic who once rebuilt a 350 V-8 engine for his dad's '72 Camaro as a Father's Day gift, has years of presents ahead of him.

But as far as gifts go, it might be all downhill from here.

"My gift from them is that they're here and healthy," he said. "That's the best gift I can get."

Fathers interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times this week remember Father's Days of dreadful presents and perfect ones.

And they can all relate to Prince's sentiment.

Dr. Thomas Mathews once opened a gift box on the third Sunday in June and found a tie.

It turned out well, though, for the 42-year-old Brooksville Regional Hospital cardiologist and father of two teenage boys. Mathews still proudly sports the tie — and not out of obligation. It's from Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post series and features a doctor holding a stethoscope to the chest of a baby doll offered by a little girl.

"I wear it often," Mathews said. "A lot of patients of have recognized it."

His boys — Akshay is in high school and Adithya is studying premed at the University of South Florida — don't usually have much money to spend on a gift. So their mom, Polly, pays, but the boys offer plenty of input, Mathews said.

"They always find something unique and different," he said.

Last year, they used one of the tried-and-true gift strategies: Buy something your loved one has had his eye on but denied himself because of the cost. For Mathews, it was a black and silver Montblanc pen.

But the best gifts from his sons seem to come unintentionally.

Not long ago, as Adithya filled out college applications, an essay question asked him why he wanted to become a doctor. His answer, as Mathews recalls it: I've watched how my dad has influenced lives.

As an on-call physician who is often on the go, Mathews had found himself wondering if he were home enough.

"But then they reaffirm that they respect you, and their lives will mold after you," he said. "It's like, oh, wow, what better gift can you ask for?"

Steve Parker doesn't hold a grudge for the Happy Meal glass.

After all, it was nearly three decades ago that one of the Weeki Wachee resident's two young sons wrapped the free collector's glass that came with the McDonald's meal, presented it to Parker and said, "Happy Father's Day." He forgets whether it featured the Hamburglar or Mayor McCheese or Grimace.

His boys, Greg and Chris, made up for it over the years. The 57-year-old account manager for a snack food company still uses the fishing rod and Abu Garcia Baitcast reel he got several Father's Days ago.

Now, Greg, a 34-year-old Marine captain and pilot, is bound for a three-year tour in Okinawa, Japan. His wife, Bridget, and 3-year-old son will live with him there. The family has been staying with Parker and his wife, Patti, as they make preparations for the overseas move.

The family stretched Father's Day into a week, with plenty of time for father-son bonding: kayaking the Weeki Wachee; cheering the Rays at the Trop; and Greg's gift to his dad, fishing in the deep Gulf on a boat chartered out of Hernando Beach.

"We tried to catch up on a lot of things before he left," Steve said.

He's gotten ties and tools. But none compare to a present that can't be wrapped: Pride.

"The best gift is having a Marine captain for a son," he said. "It's kind of like the gift that keeps on giving.

Horace Hall asked that the Times not mention the riding mower.

It's something the 68-year-old retired factory worker from Brooksville could use, but he doesn't expect it from his son, Andrew, who also lives in Brooksville.

"I do need it, but it's too much," Hall said. "I don't want him to read this and think I'm asking for it."

Hall, who also has two daughters who live up North, says his kids don't owe him anything.

Andrew has taken him to ball games, and he gets gift cards from his daughters when they can't visit.

"(The gift cards are) usually for a restaurant, because they know I got to eat," he said. "And I like to eat."

It might be cheesy, but it really is the thought that counts, he said.

"If they call or send something, they're thinking of you."

Tony Marrero can be reached at or (352) 848-1431.

Hernando County dads recall Father's Day gifts past and present 06/20/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 1:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Johnny Depp asks about assassinating the president at Glastonbury Festival (w/video)


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp has asked a crowd at the Glastonbury Festival when was the last time an actor assassinated a president. The remarks came during a segment Thursday in which Depp was speaking about President Donald Trump.

    Actor Johnny Depp introduces a film at the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm, in Somerset, England, Thursday, June 22, 2017. [Grant Pollard | Invision/AP]
  2. Morning after off day: Rays ready for slumping O's



  3. Florida education news: Charter schools, traveling man, lunch prices and more


    #HB7069: Now that it's law, HB 7069 has a new target on its back: Will it be challenged in court? Broward County Democrat Sen. Gary Farmer says he's doing all he can "to …

    Thousands of children attend Florida charter schools, which are growing in number and now stand to receive capital projects local tax revenue.
  4. Forecast: Hot, humid and mostly dry conditions prevail for St. Pete Pride weekend


    The threat of any lingering effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have passed, leaving behind a relatively dry — but hot and humid — St. Pete Pride weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  5. Florida Insiders: The state parties are dying; 'I heard someone long for the leadership of Jim Greer'


    For all the attention on Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel's bone headed gaffe this week, the diminished state of the once mighty Florida GOP today compared to even a few years ago is arguably more striking than the condition of the long-suffering Florida Democratic Party. A decade ago, no one would have …

    Florida Insider Poll