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February Has 28, and Sometimes 29!

February Has 28, and Sometimes 29!

I walked out the front door to go to school in the morning, the side door was used for everything else. Waiting on the corner, I watched Douglas walking down the hill toward me. The two of us crossed Hamilton Avenue and then crossed to the other side of Mill Street where Nancy was waiting on her front porch. Then we three walked down the cinder path to Washington School.

We girls wore wool leggings, with our skirts tucked inside, under our knee-length coats. Douglas had snow-pants, a coat and a strapped cap with earflaps - all matched – a “three piece suit.” Snow-boots, heavy scarves and mittens completed our winter attire.

At school we entered the locker room – really a long hall with wooden boxes attached to both sidewalls. Girls’ lockers were on the west wall, the boys’ opposite. We removed all our layers of wool (there was a separate section of the box just for our snow-boots) and went to class.

I am not sure in which grade, but I am sure that in Washington School some elementary teacher taught me that memory-aiding verse:
Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty one,
Except February, which has 28 alone
And sometimes 29!

There are some good things about February.
One February day, Douglas made a small snowman during recess and brought it inside, placing it in his boot locker box. We were all three surprised when it was just a pile of slush when it was time to walk home for lunch.

Of course Saint Valentine is a man who made February more loveable.

Another February plus is the important people who have birthdays that month – Washington, Lincoln – oh, well, maybe my husband and I aren’t quite as important as those presidents, but we are to each other!

February has other friends – the people of Punxsutawney (and Essex) bang pots at a groundhog every year. Kent and I stopped to see Punxsutawney Phil one year in the summer, he was curled up in his custom-made den in the window of the Town Hall, still trying to catch up on the sleep he lost on February second.

But despite those fun features of snowmen, valentines, birthdays and groundhogs, February has less going for it than any other month.

Speaking of walks to school, it was one in February in a sleet storm that I remember well. School was not cancelled for weather in those days. There were no such terms as “snow day” or “rain date.” There was also no such thing as a book bag or back pack. And there was no such thing as salt for sidewalks and roads.

Linda and I were walking down Armory Street to our eight o’clock lectures, she to Lincoln Hall for “phys ed,” I to Gregory Hall for “journ school.”

I had my annual severe winter cold and was feeling drippy, generally miserable and aching. We had successfully negotiated three blocks of our six-block walk. Wind-driven sleet was covering our coats and hats and sneaking under our coat sleeves because our arms were full of our morning’s load of textbooks and notebooks.

One foot slipped and I fell hard onto the sloppy cold sidewalk, my books and purse flying and skittering across the ice. One well known swear word involuntarily escaped, with high volume and great force, from my lungs, voice box and lips. Linda just looked down at me and laughed long and loud. In four years of living with me on campus, she had never heard me utter such a word. “I didn’t even know you knew words like that,” she giggled, while helping retrieve my books. Yes, I knew them, but I had never before used even one. But taking a bad fall in heavy driving sleet, when I should have been nursing myself in a warm bed, was just too much for me. My one and only expletive erupted - on a February morning!

Cold and wintry February has too many days for me when it has “28 alone.” When it has 29, there is a definite overabundance. Why don’t we just add Leap Day to June? That beautiful month is too short at 30, don’t you think?