COLUMNS

Outtakes: Memorial Day kicks off the summer season

Frank Weaver Jr.
Suburbanite correspondent
Frank Weaver Jr.

I know! This headline may be a bit misleading, so forgive me and hold off all those letters of praise. As we're quite aware, Memorial Day, and a few other annual holidays including Mother's, Father's, Labor Day and Thanksgiving can get a bit tricky. They don't always fall on the same date.

While some indicate the start of an unofficial season, such as Thanksgiving Day does by commencing the Yule period, Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day due to the thousands of American flags set next to veteran tombstones across the nation) doesn't officially indicate the start of any season; or for that matter, the end of any.

But officially, we, the people, unofficially consider it as the official start of summer. Never mind that it doesn't. It never does. That big day doesn't officially arrive until June 21. You see, depending on the date where Memorial Day falls (always the last Monday in May), it's still another three to four weeks before summer begins. This year it's three weeks away. Last year, it was four. This is not uncommon. At least it's not anymore.

Years ago, Decoration Day was always celebrated on May 30; no exceptions. I recall one year a nasty storm hit us just before we were ready to go picnicking in the mountains and fishing for Rainbow trout. “Guess we'll just have to postpone it for a better day,” Dad informed us, or at least said it to the most of us who couldn't wait to fish. “They won't be out looking for food in this storm.”

When we (five lads and a tomboy) gave Dad strange synchronized looks that silently must have asked him “Why not?”, it could very well have been the silliest question he may have ever heard (or thought he had if his hearing-aid batteries were fresh),” he simply answered us with words of wisdom.

“Would any of you ever go out in a torrential thunderstorm with bolts of lightning flashing here, there and everywhere within plain sight, just to pick up a quick snack. Or even to share one with others in a patriotic picnic while you're standing knee deep in rapidly running water that rises so high it even splashes your nose? Of course not,” he swiftly answered even before we ever had a chance to get our heads together in order to conjure up a reply. “Well neither do the trout,” he barked as if we should have even known before giving us that chance.” Then he added, “Imagine them out there in a blustery storm looking for chow. Why their food would get so soggy they'd never be able to eat it. On top of that they'd get soaked to the gills.”

With that he'd slap his knee, throw back his head, look skyward and give one of his patented Frank Weaver Sr. laughs as only Dad could. He always loved a pun, but more so, he loved using them.

Dad would end his explanation with the words, “Besides that, there are always other holidays to fish. And the fish know that, too.”

He never gave it a second thought about comparing our humanistic qualities, habits and common sense with those of the trout or any other specie of fish for that matter. His intentions were simply to explain in an amusing way without us suspecting; thus making us smile during our brief period of angler disappointment and, of course, to give us a good reason why we shouldn't fish in a thunderstorm. If we should buy it, so much the better. We bought it. Every time!

“Now let's play a game of baseball,” Dad would suggest, even though it was still raining. “The umpires haven't called the games in Baltimore, St. Louis, Cleveland, Boston, New York, Philadelphia or Brooklyn, so it must be okay.”

We all raced into our rooms to fetch our bats and gloves.

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