About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Sunday (+1 day) Singalong - Presidents & Others with Holidays


I remember when I was in elementary school; we made decorations for the 12th of February and for the 22nd of February. These, of course, honored the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, respectively. But somewhere along the line, things changed . . . back and forth, sort of.

I am not going to go into a listing of what Presidents are honored on what days or which states recognize which dates as holidays . . . it's just a bit too complicated. Instead, I will give my somewhat slanted perspective of someone who has taught school, worked in "industry," and attempted to keep track of when the garbage goes to the street & mail is, or is not, delivered. But for a more complete rundown of the history of Presidents' Day, check the Wikipedia article found here.

Anyway, in 1971, some order of recognized observances was adopted for many American holidays: Memorial & Columbus Days being the first that pop into my mind (so does Labor Day, but that was already assigned to the 1st Monday in September). Presidents' Day was another one. There is an interesting history, along with the reasoning attached, that can be found here. Obviously, New Year's Day (and related "Eve"), along with the 4th of July, Thanksgiving (4th Thursday), and Christmas are not subject to the adjusted celebratory Monday. When Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was developed, it, too, was assigned an appropriate Monday (3rd in January). Veterans' Day, which had been given a Monday date of the 4th Monday in October, was included in the initial 1971 arrangement, but 7 years later was shifted back to the original November 11th date, honoring the WWI Armistice, in agreement with the calendars of other Nations.

So I am actually writing this on the evening of Presidents Day (possessive is dropped when the phrase makes "Presidents" a modifier instead of a noun; though if written to identify a specific President - i.e., Washington - it becomes singular, possessive - President's . . . confused?). However one wishes to write it, it implies Presidents of the United States, not of some company or a genealogy society. Thinking of the various Presidents we have had over the many, many years, it would stand to reason that most of them should be remembered in song (beyond the expected campaign songs at election time). Can you think of any?

Taken between 1909 & 1919; Library of Congress, from glass negative

Since I've collected Civil War songs over the years, it stands to reason that I have a few that mention Lincoln, but I got to wondering about why there is a song to help me remember the books of the Bible, but no song to remember the names and order of our Presidents. But, wait! There is! How I wish I had known this back in junior high school when we were charged with remembering these gentlemen. If you aren't aware of it, check it out here:

"The American Presidents Song," White House Historical Association. And the lyrics are printed on the screen as they are sung (to the tune of "Yankee Doodle").

Now, who's going to put together a song to cover the Presidents after Coolidge?


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