Today’s lesson: November history and science stuff.
You’ve probably noticed lately that the days are entirely too short. A fellow barely gets out of bed before it’s supper, and it will be next April before it gets much better. We’ll probably have a cold winter too.
But joyful thoughts aside, we should ponder this question — “Why do we have Thanksgiving Day in November?” Fact is, it finally came to light that we should celebrate the conclusion of this nasty month. Someone said, “Well, that’s finally over. Let’s kill a turkey.”
No, that’s not true. What happened was, President Lincoln was so tickled at the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg he declared the turkey the national roast. His edict was called the Gettysburg Dressing, and to this day school children across America memorize his recipe.
Incidentally, there was a movement after Lincoln’s death to engrave his Gettysburg remarks on the backs of pennies. That’s true. Had he kept talking a little longer nobody would have thought of it, because there’s just so much room on Lincoln’s backside. Still, it wouldn’t have made much difference to me, because I have a hard time reading billboards, and pennies are a nuisance anyway.
You could also say November brings up memories of old King Canute the Blusterer who died of pneumonia on a wintry day in 1035. The story is, he challenged the ocean to a one-on-one brawl and lost.
You see, Canute took to heart some flattery from his courtiers when they said he was the toughest guy around. Even the ocean was afraid of him, they said. So steeped in confidence, he dragged his throne down to the nearest breakwater, drew his sword, and challenged the sea to do something about it.
Well, Canute got thoroughly soaked, got sick, and turned out to be a chump for flattery. On his death bed a few days later, he ordered his courtiers beheaded, and I don’t blame him. A cold is no fun unless you have someone to blame.
By the way, Abigail Smith Adams, the first American lady to be both the wife and the mother of United States presidents, was born Nov. 23, 1744. She married John Adams in 1764, and left behind a passel of kids whose descendants became famous as the Adams Family of New Yorker cartoons and Hollywood fame.
Abigail was a Sagittarian, however, and that didn’t set well with Pisces and Presbyterians. Some other Sagittarians were Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Ludwig van Beethoven, Louisa May Alcott, and Lillian Russell. Sagittarians constantly brag about their intuition, but it’s often faulty.
In other Zodiac news for November, if you were born before Nov. 23, you’re under the sign of Scorpio. You keep company with John Philip Sousa, Martin Luther, Will Rogers, Billy Sunday, Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Daniel Boone, and Marie Antoinette.
You can tell by that list that all Scorpios look and act alike. In fact, they can barely be told apart.
Veterans Day comes along this week as it usually does each year, and it’s a good time to turn to your neighbor and say thanks for the GI Bill. It allowed a bunch of us military types to go to college, buy homes, and get minor tax breaks, and I say more power to us.
If it hadn’t been for the GI Bill, I wouldn’t have met my wife Marilyn, even though she never did return my coat she borrowed on the night we met. I almost died of a cold because of that, but at least I didn’t behead anyone.
But getting back to some high water marks in history, it was in November, 1929, that Admiral Byrd and three other guys flew over the South Pole. At the same time, astronomers around the world saw some big sun spots and got all shook up like they did last week. I’ve never really believed in sun spots, so it doesn’t bother me. I don’t look at the sun that often anyway.
And in Muncie, Ind., in November, 1929, a lady was arrested for bootlegging after her neighbors listened in on her telephone conversations. Seems as though the lady’s customers ordered a half a red chicken or half a white chicken, but the neighbors weren’t fooled a bit.
At the same time, on Nov. 29, 1929, it was 26 degrees below zero in Minnesota, which makes one wonder why folks stayed there. Why didn’t they move to a nice warm climate? That’s what monkeys did, and if they’re smart enough to do it, you’d think folks in Minnesota would catch on.
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.