My fourth grade teacher at St. Agnes school in Phoenix must have been a Broadway director wannabe. We did two big plays that year. The first was A Christmas Carol (I played the Ghost of Christmas Past, garbed in my dad’s forest green terry robe. It came to his knees, but dragged the floor past my ankles.) I don’t recall the name of the second play (for all I know, Mrs. Kase had us acting in her own magnum opus), but it was about all the characters we celebrate during the month of February. (So how is it that Punxsutawney Phil – come on, admit it, no matter how dapper he may be, he’s a rodent –  gets his own day and Web site, while two of our greatest Presidents share one day??)

Groundhog

Abe Lincoln

George Washington

Susan B. Anthony

St. Valentine

With such a tiny starring cast, I was fortunate enough to move up from the small speaking part of the GoCP to land the role of the great Suffragette herself. I remember next to nothing about the role, except for the fact that her “Day” was February 15. For my costume, we  managed to find a high-collared off-white dress at Goodwill that we dyed a pukey shade of green with the ever-handy, always popular Rit Dye.

I also remember being pretty jazzed when the SBA coins came out in 1979 (6th/7th grade) and bummed when they failed, confusing people because they looked too much like quarters.

With my role in the play, I also became a confirmed, lifelong fan of the Groundhog. Not the movie bearing his name, mind you. Sure, it was OK the first time, but not unlike Phil Connors’ experience in the movie, it only grows more and more tedious with each progressive screening.

Apparently there are other Groundhog fans … as I actually managed to track down a photo of a Groundhog stocking! You can purchase the materials (instructions for $4/$5, the linen for $15.50, charms for approx. $20/package, and thread for $20-$25) for this baby at The Silver Needle – and if you get started now, it might be done in time for Feb. 2, 2010.

Just in case you’re not a fourth grade teacher and want to know what other holidays are coming up this month, here’s a calendar for you, courtesy of The Teacher’s Corner.

February 2009

1 National Freedom Day

Langston Hughes born

Robinson Crusoe Day

First meeting of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1790

2 Bottle Cap patented

Groundhog Day

3 Elizabeth Blackwell (first female doctor) born

Elmo’s Birthday (Sesame Street character)

Vietnam War ended, 1973

4 Charles Lindbergh born, 1902

Create a Vacuum Day

Rosa Parks born, 1913

5 Weatherman’s Day

Disaster Day

Hank Aaron born, 1934

6 Babe Ruth born, 1895

Monopoly board game hit stores, 1935

7 Charles Dickens born, 1812

Laura Ingalls Wilder born, 1867

8 Boy Scouts founded, 1910

Author Jules Verne born, 1828

9 Hershey’s Chocolate founded, 1894

National Weather Service established, 1870

Toothache Day

10 Umbrella Day

Ratification of the 25th Amendment, Presidential Succession, 1967

11 Thomas Edison born, 1847

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day

National Inventors’ Day

White T-Shirt Day

12 Author Judy Blume born, 1938

Abraham Lincoln 16th President born, 1809

First Barbie Dolls for sale

13 Get a Different Name Day

First Public School established, 1635

14 Ferris Wheel Day

Valentine’s Day

15 National Gumdrop Day

16 President’s Day

King Tut’s Burial Chamber opened, 1923

17 Random Acts of Kindness Day

National P.T.A. Founder’s Day, 1897

18 Former planet, Pluto, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh, 1930

19 Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood debuted, 1968

20 John Glenn first person to orbit the Earth, 1962

Toothpick patented, 1872

Love Your Pet Day

21 Polaroid ‘Land’ Camera first introduced by Edwin Land, 1947

22 George Washington born, 1732

Be Humble Day

World Thinking Day

23 International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

U.S. Flag raised at Iwo Jima, 1945

24 Mardi Gras – always 47 days before Easter; also known as Fat Tuesday

25 Quiet Day

Artist Pierre Auguste Renoir born, 1841

26 Levi Strauss born, 1829

27 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow born, 1807

International Polar Bear Day

Author John Steinbeck born, 1902

28 Public Sleeping Day

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For someone who prides herself on being fairly well-read and up-to-date on all sorts of various and sundry information, you must understand how shocked I was to find recently that I had missed a HUGE announcement with respect to US currency. Now I’m really not talking trivia here – although my sister thinks I know way too much about which celebrities are married, dating, divorcing, or playing footsie. As I do not even own a television, I beg to differ … but perhaps that’s for another post.

The discovery in question concerns the … ahem … new presidential coins. My friend asked me the other day if I’d seen them. I had to admit, sheepishly, that I had not.

How on earth can I know the names of Barack Obama’s daughters, that Chris Matthews is not going to run for the Senate from Pennsylvania, that Lute Olson retired as the Arizona basketball coach, that CopyTalk.com is an awesome dictation resource that will send transcripts straight to your e-mail inbox, and that Americans use approximately 3 trillion plastic bags a year, but miss the fact that the US Mint in February 2007 began minting $1 coins of all the US Presidents, in order, beginning with the Father of the Nation, the original George W?

Oh, well, I suppose I will get over it.

For you e-a-r-l-y birds who happen to have coin collectors on your stocking stuffer lists, you can plan now for the release of the Barack Obama coins. The list on the official site goes only through Gerald Ford, but based on the scheduled release dates, the Obama coin will be issued in 2018.

Perhaps in an attempt at equality, the US Mint is also releasing coins of the First Spouses (their word!):

2007 First Spouse Gold Coins

  • Martha Washington
  • Abigail Adams
  • Jefferson’s Liberty
  • Dolley Madison

2008 First Spouse Gold Coins

  • Elizabeth Monroe
  • Louisa Adams
  • Andrew Jackson Presidency (wife died during his term)
  • Martin Van Buren Presidency (took office as a widower)

2009 First Spouse Gold Coins

  • Anna Harrison
  • Letitia Tyler
  • Julia Tyler
  • Sarah Polk
  • Margaret Taylor

Wanna guess who’s next?

Guess I’ll have to cast my net a little wider nex time, so as to be sure I’m not 23 months late in getting the “latest” scoop.