Baby Boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

<BR><BR>There’s something about the month of February, especially to those of us living in the northern sphere.<BR><BR>First off, it’s a shorter month, one full of holidays, longer daylight, (called spring is coming - there’s hope.)<BR><BR>A Boomer kid looked forward to February. Christmas seemed a long ways past, but February brought on new incentive. <BR><BR>How could we pass up the first holiday of February - Groundhog Day?<BR><BR>A kid living in Ely didn’t quite get the national trend of that one. We understood if the groundhog saw his shadow, we’d have six more weeks of winter. They make a big deal out of that in Philadelphia, but Ely kids back then envisioned winter going on into April or maybe May.<BR><BR>We didn’t have groundhogs up here to forecast for us, but if you remember you might have stepped out at daylight on February 2 every year, watching for your own shadow. If you saw it, six more weeks of winter wasn’t so bad. <BR><BR>If you were a Catholic kid chances are you had something else to anticipate after Groundhog Day. We were educated in the powers bestowed by the St. Blaise. <BR><BR>St. Blaise could do us some good, especially if you suffered from chronic sore throats, tonsillitis or any affliction of that region.<BR><BR>Remember hearing the nun’s instructions? She said the priest would cross two candles over your throat? We younger newcomers envisioned torched hair or burning around the ears. We imagined they (the candles) were lit, because the lit type were the only ones we viewed in church.<BR><BR>If that’s what it took to ward off sore, strep, or tonsil-laden throats, guess we’d have to go for it. <BR><BR>So we marched up to church after school on St. Blaise Day, prepared for lighted candles around our throats, unless an older friend or sibling calmed our fears regarding fire. <BR><BR>And it wasn’t long after that big day, relieved you might ward off the ills of the throat, that one started planning other February holidays.<BR><BR>Boomers will remember Presidents’ holiday didn’t exist. We celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and Washington’s on the 22nd. <BR><BR>Our teachers read us simple biographies of both, namely Abe studying his school work under a candle-lit lamp, and George Washington chopping down the cherry tree - for he could never tell a lie.<BR><BR>Every elementary classroom hosted black cutout busts of the two February Birthday Presidents. We shouldn’t forget their profiles from wig to beard.<BR><BR>And instead of celebrating one grand Presidents’ Day, we took turns between Abe and George either having the 12th or 22nd as a “day off.”<BR><BR>But what came in-between those Presidents? Valentine’s Day, of course.<BR><BR>Valentine’s Day, with all the pretty red hearts, decorations abounding, and anticipation of constructing a unique card box kept us entertained and anticipatory as to what that holiday held.<BR><BR>Save shoeboxes for the kids and let them go wild with tissue paper, old lace, crepe paper, construction paper and anything else around the house.<BR><BR>Proud we were to set our decorated box upon our desks, awaiting those little cardboard Valentines from schoolmates and the teacher. <BR><BR>I don’t know about you, but sometimes what you thought you might receive, especially from an imagined heartthrob wasn’t all that good. If you were the class comedian, you probably received a lot of clowns or monkeys. If you were shy or a wallflower, a posy or kitten might do. If portly or somehow larger than the norm for your grade level, expect an elephant. <BR><BR>Lots of love exchanged. But I guess a social lesson in honoring everyone on St. Valentine’s Day.<BR><BR>So, Boomers everywhere, remember that day with the gusto we had making those card boxes. <BR><BR>By now we know monkeys or elephants may not be proper. Chocolate, flowers or a special treat score better points.<BR><BR>It’s all part of February: Groundhogs, throat blessings, presidents and Valentines - a way to pass the last of the winter months until spring pops up. <BR><BR>