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What is a Home Without a Father

Chances are that if you were to Google or Bing “Andrew Borden,” most of the photos under IMAGES will be of Lizzie Borden.  The accused is more famous than the victim.  Andrew Borden has taken a pretty hard rap over the decades, and has been charged with some foul things from incest to extreme frugality.  A visitor to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum once declared, “He deserved what he got!”  Sadly, very little of what is commonly bandied about as the truth about Andrew Borden and his family relations is true. People will believe what they want to believe or what they see on television “reality shows” which are made purely to titillate and entertain, but seldom educate.

Thanks to PARALLEL LIVES, we now know that there existed a warm and affectionate feeling between Lizzie and her father.  We have known for many years that he died with Lizzie’s little gold ring on his hand.  We also know that to placate his daughters after the real estate transaction deeding the Fourth Street house over to Abby Borden, Andrew settled the Ferry Street house on Emma and Lizzie and what’s more, he bought it back from them for cash in July 1892 when it became too much for them to manage.

The house on Second Street had city water, central heating, wall-to-wall carpeting, and a toilet in the cellar.  Things were not so bleak and dreadful as many have promoted over the years and were a lot more luxurious than many in the city lived in 1892- and Andrew Borden was not the monster so many have portrayed.

Father’s Day did not become an official U.S. holiday until 1972 although the idea was tried out in 1910 without much success. Andrew never celebrated Father’s Day, nor did Lizzie and Emma make little cards and gifts on the third Sunday in June.  But fathers in Victorian times, as the cross stitch sampler above will testify, were venerated at the hearth as head of the family and the final arbiter in all matters.  There is little doubt Lizzie and Emma had a great respect for their father. Parenting is the hardest job of all.

And, if you believe Lizzie was guilty of the crime- well, Andrew Borden probably should have spent more time inspecting that window for Mr. Clegg and should have arrived home MUCH later- it might have all had a different ending. . . .

Happy Father’s Day Andrew Borden- wherever you may be.

2 Comments

  • Jo Anne Giovino

    Thank you , Shelley , for this thoughtful portrayal of Andrew Borden . I have always been bothered by the media’s depiction of Andrew as a miserly, slovenly, skin-flint which unfortunately are the nicer things said about him. He was an old time yankee who started out with nothing , worked hard for his money and prospered. I believe he thought he was a success and did right by his family. It is my opinion that Andrew was “collateral damage” on the fateful day. Warning to men, do not come home early looking for lunch on hot summer days…….don’t axe me why !!!

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