Ponder this February assortment of events which perhaps you didn’t even know about or may have forgotten. Some of these are historical, some are hysterical and a couple of them are undoubtedly hypothetical.
Actually, it’s completely understandable that you might have forgotten some of this February history since most of us are not really paying attention during this difficult month anyway. It’s a relatively short calendar stop during which we try to operate on “automatic” as we begin our annual headlong race towards spring. Spring? What’s that? Remember how last winter was held over through most of spring? It couldn't happen again. Could it?
Anyway, let’s use up a little February calendar time by perusing these dates from the shortest month of the year. On the calendar it’s short, so the “reality” of February feels a bit different.
• February 2 — Groundhog Day. Every year, he comes out or he doesn’t come out. It’s sunny or it’s cloudy. It’s raining or it’s snowing. A crowd gathers or he’s all alone. It doesn’t matter, because it’s all irrelevant. Amusing, maybe, but still irrelevant. Winter will end when it’s good and ready and not a moment before.
• February 8, 1910 — The Boy Scouts organization was formally incorporated. After which, they immediately got lost on their first hike.
• February 11 — Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day! Take a break from cereal and toast or bacon and eggs and try a pancake or two or three. And give my regards to Aunt Jemima when you see her.
• February 12 — Ash Wednesday, when you swear off pancakes for another year.
• February 14 — Valentine’s Day. Did you know that history has produced at least eight St. Valentines? This little known fact is either carefully documented by our crack research team or I just made it up. There are, in fact, 18 versions of the history of St. Valentine's Day.
Let’s consider version No.12: This particular legend suggests that perhaps the best known Valentine was a young Christian martyr, imprisoned in Rome in the third century for refusing to worship pagan gods. He was beheaded on February 14 after restoring the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. The story goes that he sent the girl a farewell letter signed, “From your Valentine,” a phrase that has symbolized friendship and affection over the centuries and gave rise to the other 17 versions of the history of this day.
By the way, here’s a nice little story I found in my “Nice Little Stories” file, which seems appropriate for this day of romance: A teenage girl returned home from a date and found her mother still awake and reading in the living room. The girl sat down next to her and said, “Mom, how can you tell if you’re really in love?”
Her mother smiled, walked over to the desk, pulled a tattered clipping from the drawer, and handed it to her daughter. It read: “True love is like two deep rivers that meet and merge, intertwining completely into one, and then flowing on together. The joys, happiness and sorrows of each become the joys, happiness and sorrows of the other. True love cannot be hurried; but once unselfishly rooted, it will grow forever.”
“That’s beautiful,” said the girl. “Where did you get it?”
A tear came to her mom’s eye and she replied: “It’s a clipping my mother gave me when I asked the same question a long time ago. I’ve been saving it for you.”
• February 20, 1839 — The U.S. Congress passed a law making duelling illegal.
• February 22, 1879 — The first store to only sell items priced at five cents was opened by Frank Woolworth. Rumour has it that he wanted to call the store “Walmart,” but his friends convinced him that “Woolworth’s” would be a better choice.
• February 24, 1839 — The steam shovel was invented by William Otis.
Bill actually announced to everyone that he’d invented the elevator, but his friends took him aside and said: “No, Bill. Get a grip, man. This is a steam shovel you’ve invented. The elevator will come later by a different Otis.”