By Alex Berger
Soon, the mystical month of March will be upon us. I am not superstitious and, goodness knows, I don’t believe in mythology, but, nonetheless, I must warn you that the Ides of March are a-coming.
The notorious “Ides,” to fill you in, are one of three fixed points in the month in the ancient Roman calendar. It usually is present on the 15th day of the month. The Romans say that if the full moon is out on that day — BEWARE! So, I say to be forewarned about March 15th is to be forearmed.
I know, as a levelheaded, rational-minded, common-sense adult, I shouldn’t fear the Ides of March. However, rather than risk the possibility, Gloria and I decided to hide under our bed from sunrise to sunset on that day. Why take chances? I strongly suggest that you do likewise.
Or, if you prefer, you can run instead to the far-away island of Pago Pago, or read my columns for the last 52 weeks, until March 15th of 2001. These may help keep you out of harm’s way. Do as I prescribe or else you may suffer the dire consequences. With that warning out of the way, let me proceed to tell you about the marvelous month of March.
March is not only the third month of the year, but also Women’s History Month, National Nutrition Month, Mental Retardation Month, Youth Art Month, the start of the Easter Seal Campaign, National Procrastination Month (wait a while until I decide to continue again), National Wildlife Month, and the month in 1945 in which Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager, lost her life in a Nazi concentration camp.
This year will be different as I recount March in detail. I will be very thorough discussing the notable happenings and birthdays occurring during the month. Last March, I inadvertently omitted a few dates I thought to be minor and, boy, did I hear about it from many readers. So, this time, I will incorporate all their reminders and, hopefully, I will not miss any. If I do, you know where to find me.
BIRTHDAYS — March 2, Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, born in 1904; 3, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, born in 1847; 4, Casimit Pulaski, the Polish general who fought on our side during the American Revolution, born in 1747; 5, Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave, the first person killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770; 6, Michaelangelo, the Italian Renaissance artist, born in 1475. He painted scenes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
9, Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian navigator, born in 145l. His first name became the name for our country; 14, Albert Einstein, the great mathematician, born in 1879; 15, Andrew Jackson (“Old Hickory”), the seventh president, born in 1767; l6, James Madison, the fourth president, born in 175l; 24, Harry Houdini, the magician, born in 1874; 26, Robert Frost, the American poet, born in 1874; 30, Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch painter, born in 1853.
HAPPENINGS — March 1, National Pig Day (that name speaks for itself) and Mark of a Welchman Day, the day when the Welch began wearing leeks on their person for identification; 2, the start of Fun Mail Week (let’s write fun letters to our postal workers thanking them for always getting the mail through); and The Moomba Festival, a fun time in the Caribbean; 3, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became our national anthem in 1931 (why have some schools discontinued the singing of it?) and, on this day, New York City passed the first dog license law in 1894 (Spot has not forgiven our city ever since).
March 4, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress on this day in 1917; 5, Mary McLeod Bethune opened a school for black children in 1904; 8, International Women’s Day celebrates the contributions and achievements of women who have made a difference (Gloria made a difference. Once, during a Buffalo blizzard, she stopped me from leaving our room without wearing my thermal underwear. I could have frozen to death).
Also on March 8, The Dolls Festival and Aunt’s Day; 9, National Physical and Sports Week begins and, in 1882, the first patent for false teeth was issued; 10, Harriet Tubman, one of the leaders of the Underground )Railroad, died in 1913; 11, Johnny Appleseed (real name John Chapman) helped plant apple trees on the American frontier; 15, Beware the Ides of March Day (see above instructions and good luck); 17, St. Patrick’s Day (Top of the morning and Erin go Bragh to you on the day when everyone becomes Irish); 20, First day of spring; 20, Absolutely Incredible Kid Day, a time to write a loving letter to that incredible kid in your life; 21, Fragrance Day (the day when Gloria buys me a carton of after-shave lotion); 22, National Goof-Off Day.
March 24, Palm Sunday and, on this day in 1898, the first American gas carriage was sold; 25, the 9lst anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City in which 146 people (mainly young Immigrant Jewish girls) died; 27, Mount. St. Helens in Washington State erupted in 1990, after 123 years of inactivity. (Its soot traveled all the way to New York and I can still taste it); 28, Holy Thursday and the first day of Passover (to be covered in a later column). Also on March 28, the washing machine was patented by Nathaniel Briggs in 1797 (Gloria still thanks him).
March 29, Good Friday; 30, the patent for the first pencil with an attached eraser was issued in 1858.
March 30 is Doctor’s Day and the 31st is Easter Sunday (also to be covered in a future column).
There you have it. Gloria says I should have added “Spring-cleaning Week” and “Income Tax Preparation Month” to the list. Maybe next year.
Readers, I hope I didn’t I miss any. If I had, don’t you still agree that March is a marvelous month?
Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 140.