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Happy Father's Day PopsGrowing up in the 1970s and having two sisters, I appreciate how the women’s movement changed our role in society and I think women today take that for granted sometimes. Parenting must have been hard for my dad, Hal Lockwood, with three girls.

But I am oh so grateful to be his kid. He handled fatherhood like a champ, always — even when I was stubborn know-it-all that challenged most of what he tried to teach me. My dad asked that his girls be capable problem solvers, work hard for their independence and not sell ourselves short. He helped us seek opportunities that reflected that and he remains one of my biggest supporters in owning my news website.

Amid protests around equal rights around men’s work and women’s work, I remember my parents letting us watch Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me. And my parents were intentional in how they raised us. It’s like they carried the women’s movement through to the girl’s movement in the Lockwood household. And it’s one of those unspoken things in our family that we really talk about all the time when we get together.

In dad’s world there were no ‘girl things’ and ‘boy things,’ just things we wanted to do. He always supported us and challenged us to do better. Sure he paid for dance classes and summer camps, but when I wanted to buy my first horse I had to come up with the money to pay for it. So I picked strawberries, sold my bicycle, and took a babysall summer. And when I wanted to learn how to barrel race, he encouraged me.

That seems weird to make such a big deal out of that now, but at the time… it was. In the 1960s and early 1970s, college women were still required to wear dresses, airline stewardesses had to be single women and thin, and advertising often reflected over the top sexism. I remember my parents raging against this.

We often had discussions around the dinner table about what we “could” become and my dad made sure we knew it. But “his girls” would not be delicate flowers. Farm life insured that. I learned how to drive a tractor at the age of 11 on a 1942 Case Tractor with a crank start and an electric one. I helped my dad build fences, muck stalls, and birth pigs. We got dirty and earned our keep. And before we could drive his car we had to know how to change a tire. I learned to parallel park a manure spreader in a corn field. Dresses were for Sundays and only if we wanted to wear them.

But we were fiercely protected by pops. We were not allowed to date until we were 16. If a boy wanted to date a Lockwood girl, he had to check us out like a library book. Everyone in the car had to meet my dad, look him in the eye, shake his hand, explain the itinerary for the evening and report my return. He also kept a loaded 12-gauge by the door (which I also proudly know how to shoot). We were to be returned unscathed and in original condition.

And lastly… pops sat all of us girls down and told us he wasn’t a fan of seeing us get married before 20. In fact, he said, he would not pay for it. The reason: He’d prefer us to go to college and make something of ourselves. He never said we didn’t need a man. He preached — through his actions — that we were equal.

And that’s how I got to be me. So… thanks pops. I love you very much and I can’t wait to see you and mom next week.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.