Category Archives: Almanac

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. We honor you today, the second Sunday in May because of all you have done for us. Today I want to share a few tidbits of information about this 110-year-old holiday.

Mother’s Day recognizes mothers, motherhood and maternal bonds in general, as well as the positive contributions that they make to society.

Establishment of Mother’s Day Holiday

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908. Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. St Andrew’s Methodist Church now holds the International Mother’s Day Shrine.

She campaigned to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States beginning in 1905. Ann Reeves Jarvis, her mother, died that year. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. She created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started. Additionally she wanted to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

Protests and Carnations

Although Jarvis was successful in founding the holiday, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of the day. Also she felt the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved.

Jarvis argued that people should appreciate and honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude. She thought people should do this instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. She protested at a candy makers’ convention in Philadelphia in 1923. Also she demonstrated at a meeting of American War Mothers in 1925. By this time, sons and daughters were sending carnations as gifts on this day. Additionally authorities arrested Jarvis for disturbing the peace when she protested AWM’s carnation selling to raise money.

Sundays With Mom

Families all have traditions and routines. Ours was no different. Each Sunday mom began the day by dressing each of us in suits with clip-on bowties. But these were not ordinary suits. She purchased these suits at Freeman’s clothing store and they required alterations by tailors. We went to Sunday school and then sat through church. Dad gave us pencils so we could doodle during the service.

Mom prepared Sunday Roast each week. This traditional British main meal is typically served on Sunday (hence the name). It consists
of roasted meat, roast potato, vegetables like broccoli, carrots and onions,  and gravy. She put the ingredients in a roasting pan and put it in the oven before we left for church.

Eventually she tired of preparing Sunday roast and our after church lunch became a visit to the heritage cafeteria.

April 8 – 14:This Week In Music History

April 8 – 14 is an important week in music history. Whether you’re a fan of rock’n roll, pop, country, or classical something important happened years ago.


April 8, 1994–Kirk Cobain Found Dead

April 8, 1994, rock star Kurt Cobain was found dead in his home outside Seattle, Washington. Fresh injection marks pierced both arms. Additionally he suffered a fatal wound to the head from a 20-
gauge shotgun found between his knees. Cobain’s suicide brought an end to a life marked by far more suffering than is generally associated with rock superstardom. But rock superstardom never did sit well with Kurt Cobain. Cobain was a social outsider who was reluctantly dubbed the spokesman of his generation.

Kurt Cobain rose to fame as the leader and chief songwriter of the Seattle-based band Nirvana. This band is often credited with turning a regional music scene in the Pacific Northwest into a worldwide phenomenon labeled “grunge.”  Nirvana became enormously popular in the wake of their era-defining single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991).

April 9, 1939–Marian Anderson sings on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” But Martin Luther King, Jr., was not the first to raise his voice from those steps with a message of hope for America’s future. That distinction belongs to the world-famous contralto Marian Anderson. Her performance at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939, made a compelling case for the transformative power of music.

Marian Anderson was an international superstar in the 1930s. Race had been no impediment to her career abroad. However, there were still places in the United States where a black woman was simply not welcome, no matter how famous. What surprised Anderson and many others was to discover in 1939 that one such place was Constitution Hall. This venue was owned and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Once the D.A.R. refused to allow Marian Anderson to perform at Constitution Hall because of her skin color. As a result the organization lost one of its most influential members: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt and many other women quit the D.A.R. in protest of its discriminatory action, which soon became a cause célèbre.

April 10, 1970–Paul Mccartney Announces Breakup of The Beatles

By the spring of 1970, there was little more than a tangled set of business relationships keeping the Beatles together. Each of the Beatles was pursuing his musical interests outside of the band. In addition there were no plans in place to record together as a group. But as far as the public knew, this was just a temporary state of affairs.

That all changed on April 10, 1970, with an ambiguous Paul McCartney  “self-interview”. The statements Paul released to the press that day were about the upcoming release of his debut solo album, McCartney. However, they were interpreted as an official announcement of a Beatles breakup.

April 11, 1961–Bob Dylan Plays His First Major Gig in New York City

The singular creative vision that would change the face of popular music wasn’t really in evidence yet. However, what Bob Dylan did have was his guitar, harmonica, and unique stage presence. He also brought a vast library of American folk songs in his repertoire. On April 11, 1961, he got his first real chance to put those on display with his first major gig in New York City. At the age of 19 he was the opening act for bluesman John Lee Hooker at Gerde’s Folk City.

April 12, 1989–Garth Brooks Releases His Debut Album

His integration of rock and roll elements into the country genre has earned Garth Brooks immense popularity in the United States. Brooks has had great success on the country single and album charts. His works include multi-platinum recordings and record-breaking live performances, while also crossing over into the mainstream pop arena.

Garth Brooks is his debut studio album,  released on April 12, 1989 through Capitol Nashville. It was both a critical and chart success, peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200 and at #2 on the Top Country Albums chart. The album has been certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments over ten million copies. This is Garth’s only album to have a neotraditional country sound before developing a more crossover-friendly country-pop sound.

April 13, 1742–Handel’s Messiah premieres in Dublin

Nowadays, the performance of George Friedrich Handel’s Messiah oratorio is a deeply entrenched Christmas tradition.  It would surprise many, then, to learn that Messiah was not originally intended as a piece of Christmas music. Messiah received its world premiere on this day in 1742, during the Christian season of Lent.

Messiah gained widespread popularity only during the final years of Handel’s life, in the late 1750s. It remains one of the best-known musical works of the Baroque period more than two centuries later.  Handel composed the score for Messiah in just 24 days, Ludwig van Beethoven said of Handel: “He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb.”

April 14, 1935–Country legend Loretta Lynn is born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky

If there’s one thing nearly everyone knows about country-music legend Loretta Lynn, it’s what her father, Ted Webb, did for a living. Like any man struggling to provide for a family during the Great Depression, he took work wherever he could find it. However, his primary job was in the mines of the Consolidation Coal Company in the rugged mountains of eastern Kentucky. Ted and his wife, Ramey, raised eight children in their small wooden house in Johnson County.  The most famous coal miner’s daughter in the world was born on this day in 1935.

As she sang in her autobiographical 1971 country hit, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Webb grew up dirt poor but well-loved and taken care of by her hardworking parents. She adored music and sang in church choirs as a child.

Loretta Lynn’s record sales and chart performance over the next two decades were enough to qualify her for genuine “legend” status. Her contribution to the genre went beyond mere popularity. She wrote much of her own material, most from a strong, feminine perspective, Lynn helped transform the role of women in country music.

Correction: in my last post I incorrectly said we performed Stairway to Heaven at South Street Christian Church in 1973. It was actually 1975.

Saint Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland

On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio. Patrick wrote this book during his last years. Saint Patrick was born in Great Britain, probably in Scotland, to a well-to-do Christian family of Roman citizenship. Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish marauders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, he escaped. Eventually he found passage on a ship to Britain and was reunited with his family.

The Voice of the Irish

According to the Confessio, in Britain Patrick had another dream, in which an individual named Victoricus gave him a letter, entitled “The

Slemish, County Antrim, traditionally associated with Saint Patrick’s time as a shepherd slave.

Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading him to return to their country and walk among them once more. After studying for the priesthood, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He arrived in Ireland in 433 and began preaching the Gospel, converting many thousands of Irish and building churches around the country. After 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling and working tirelessly, Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church.

The Legends of St. Patrick

Since that time, countless legends have grown up around Patrick. Made the patron saint of Ireland, he is said to have baptized hundreds of people on a single day, and to have used a three-leaf

Image of Saint Patrick banishing the snakes

clover–the famous shamrock–to describe the Holy Trinity. In art, he is often portrayed trampling on snakes, in accordance with the belief that he drove those reptiles out of Ireland.

For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday. Therefore they attend church in the morning and celebrate with food and drink in the afternoon.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade, though, took place not in Ireland, but the United States. This is when, in 1762 Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. As the years went on, the parades became a show of unity and strength for persecuted Irish-American immigrants. Furthermore the parades became a popular celebration of Irish-American heritage. The party went global in 1995, That is when the Irish government began a large-scale campaign to market St. Patrick’s Day. The purpose was to drive tourism and showcase Ireland’s many charms to the rest of the world. Today, March 17 is a day of international celebration. Millions of people around the globe put on their best green clothing to drink beer, watch parades and toast the luck of the Irish.