National Old Maid's Day
Yes, It's in June...but bear with me...
And then there’s National Old Maid's Day. Why you ask. Well, in 1948, large swathes of American communities had men returning from military service. Many men had lost wives and sweethearts to time and distance, defense workers and earlier returning fellow veterans. "Old maids" looked pretty good to some returning veterans. As mostly, these never-married, childless women were stable, often of independent means, and—some—were desperate to spend their lives with male company regardless of personal foibles.
In that year, Marion Richards of Jeffersonville, PA (a suburb of Philadelphia close to Valley Forge), held the first Old Maid’s Day gathering. According to a June 4, 1982, Asbury Park Press (NJ) article, “Guests ranged from 75 years old down to an age when hope still flickered.” Richards created the day to honor all the contributions Old Maids offer to their communities and their families. In Miss Richard’s time, older single women played a major role in many areas of the schools, churches, offices, and families. However, as Miss Diane Keaton has shown, never-married women can be much more than that, such as former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has shown.
I have known very few true "old maids," in part because of my generation's ideas for marriage. I’ve known several women who were widowed or divorced early in life and who lived full and enriching lives… alone. Well-known single women who were not technically "old maids" include Katharine Hepburn (who was married in 1928 and divorced in 1934, passing at age 96) and Oprah Winfrey (who had a child at 14 that died shortly after birth). As Miss Keaton says, the dowdy spinster pining away her golden years, waiting for a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet, is a Hollywood myth.
Right about now, you’re wondering why I’m banging on about single women. Well…
All recorded history has two primary values: a simple log of past events; an object lesson for future decisions. The first is relatively straight-forward; the second is subject to as many interpretations as there are interpreters. Differing accounts can contest the first; differing social and political philosophies can contest the second.
We get a lot of our history from popular culture, and the myth of the “old maid” is just one of them. It’s not as pervasive a fiction as others are in the 21st century, but it is one of the most common. National Old Maid’s Day—4 June—is a tradition with a known origin but of unknown commemoration. Its place in social history is not essential, but it’s probably at least as important as National Talk Like A Pirate Day, and not quite as contrived.
CK ‘73 Update
YES, there is some activity.
For lodging, the school has blocks of rooms at the old Kingsley Inn on Woodward (which is now a Hilton Doubletree) and at the Auburn Hills Marriot in Pontiac. The Hampton Inn on Telegraph is cheaper even after the school discount if a mile or so farther away. Our old standby, the Homewood in Troy, is a little more expensive. We need to make up our minds before May if we’re all going to be in the same place: create our own RHQ. There’s a more comprehensive list for those who want it; drop me an email.
The website is LIVE. Anyone objecting can email me; I’ll update it as needed. You’ll need a password to “register” your attendance at the reunion: CK7350. Catchy, huh? You can see the website without it; we’re just nosey and want to know who’s coming…
Pearl Harbor Reconsidered: Introduction
On 19 November:
1863: President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address to a distracted crowd on the site of what is now the battlefield’s cemetery. Lincoln was said to have had an unpleasant voice that was hard to make out on that blustery day. It came after a two-hour address by Edward Everett, the country’s leading orator, so we can forgive those who heard Lincoln and later said they thought little of it. Three reporters recorded it in shorthand and agreed on the text we now know so well; they didn’t for Everett. I must mention that there were still dead horses on parts of the battlefield.
1942: Operation URANUS began outside of Stalingrad. In a little over six days, the Soviet’s two-pronged counteroffensive surrounded the German Sixth Army, parts of the Fourth Panzer Army, and elements of the Italian First Army—upwards of 200,000 men. For five weeks, the Germans tried to break through the cordon while other Germans evacuated the Caucasus regions lest they be cut off.
And the Saturday before Thanksgiving is both INTERNATIONAL SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS DAY and NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY. Ironic, in my case, because I lost my adopted cousin, Sue, to suicide some years ago.