Here at the American Institute for Bigger Calendar Pictures of Milk Cows, we’re celebrating the month of September with this theme song (sung to the tune “St. Louis Woman” or “America the Beautiful,” whichever comes up first):
“Rooty-toot-toot, rooty-toot-toot, we’re the guys from the Institute. We don’t smoke, and we don’t chew, and we don’t go with girls who do. Our class won a rain gage from an Amarillo TV station.”
You can tell it’s September, because we like to shake off hot summer weather and get a bit silly. It’s when parents send their kids back to school to get revenge on the school board, pesky bumblebees wind up their affairs, and Mars is as close to Earth as it’s been since Wog the Neanderthal discovered he couldn’t eat pterodactyl and share a cave with a saber-toothed tiger.
September is also a time to think about the Mayflower which sailed from England in September with the first Thanksgiving stuffing. But if you were born on the British Isles in 1752 between Sept. 3-l3, you didn’t exist. In some circles it was even thought best to declare you officially dead.
What happened in September, 1752, was Parliament decided to change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in order to catch up with the rest of Europe. So they proclaimed the day after Sept. 2 as Sept. l4. That kind of silly September reasoning was why we were able to whip their fannies over here in the colonies 30 years later.
The idea for the vanishing September days of 1752 came from a fellow named Lord Chesterfield who turned activist because he was receiving love notes from a French lady named the Marquise de Monconseil. The problem was the letters arrived before they were written, because France was already on the Gregorian calendar, which really turned old Chesterfield off.
But September was a good time for Henry Hudson, that stalwart explorer who invented the Hudson River in September 1609. He thought it might be the Northwest Passage, a short cut to the Orient, so he sailed upstream.
The river, however, petered out at Albany and was just a trickle by Troy. When girls in Japan heard the news, they heaved a big sigh of relief. “Ahhh so, safe from American GIs for another 350 years,” they said.
When Hudson floated back downstream, he saw some Mannahattes Indians on an island, which they later sold to Peter Minuit for $24. Some folks say Minuit got the raw end of the deal, because another Dutchman, Wouter Van Twiller, bought Governors Island for only $l8.
Van Twiller called his island “Nut Island,” because it had more nuts than Manhattan. Of course that was 300 years ago.
Speaking of nuts, Congress in 1935 proclaimed September “Eat More Parsnips Month” in a vain attempt to shore up farm economies during the Great Depression. They did it again the next year too, but by then folks were fed up with parsnips. You can hardly blame them.
A lot earlier, Dr. Samuel Johnson, a writer of dictionaries, had a birthday in September. He admitted his books didn’t have much plot, but if you were curious how words were spelled, they were a fun summer read. Still, there were those who said you had to know how to spell before you could look up a word to see how it was spelled. They had something there.
Astrologers, meanwhile, tell us persons born until Sept. 23 are under the Sign of Virgo. Born after that date, they’re Republicans. No, they’re actually called Libras.
Astrologers say Virgos are generally cold natured unless they get interested in something, then there’s no stopping them. Libras or Republicans, on the other hand, show a marked interest in justice and harmony, if they get their way.
Zack Taylor, our 12th president, who was also called “Old Rough and Ready,” was both a Republican and a Libra having been born Sept. 24, l784. He’s credited with the wisecrack, “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.” Oliver Cromwell is also credited in England with the same saying, but I can’t imagine that old grouch uttering anything clever.
Each September, I used to celebrate the end of hot weather by tricking folks into grabbing pesky bumble bees. I told them, “Just grab one. They don’t sting.” It was a cute little joke for years until I suckered in my wife Marilyn. Talk about pesky.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.