0

Darrell Huckaby - February is the Birthday Month

It's funny what we remember - and what we forget. I have no memory of ever learning the Pythagorean Theorem or Bernoulli's Principle, but I will always remember that Avogadro's number is 6.02 times 10 to the 23rd power and I can recite all 17 stanzas of Alfred Noyes's epic poem "The Highwayman."

It's finally February - two days in, actually - and for some inexplicable reason, whenever February arrives, I can see in my mind's eye the bulletin board that graced the halls of Porterdale School when I was growing up. Every year it was the same thing - a red border, white background, a big Cupid in the middle, flanked by silhouette portraits of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

February - The Birthday Month.

That's what it always said - in big red letters. I bet they had a similar one in your school, if you are as old as I am.

I suppose February was touted as the birthday month because of the Lincoln and Washington thing. They were pretty big names back in those days, and we made a big deal about their birthdays. Today? Not so much. For the record, William Henry Harrison was also born in February, but he caught pneumonia during his inaugural address and died after a month in office, so we never paid much attention to William Henry Harrison in Porterdale.

But every year we had to write biographies about Washington and Lincoln, as well as other famous folks who were born during the year's shortest month. That's what's so crazy. I remember all the stuff about Lincoln and Washington, as you might expect, but I also remember the stuff about a lot of the other people, too.

Like Babe Ruth. Did you know that Babe Ruth was born on Feb. 6? Well, you do now? In Baltimore - above a saloon. Raised in an orphanage, mentored by Brother Mathias, started out as a pitcher, hit a ton of homeruns - presumably without the benefit of steroids, yada, yada, yada ...

Ironically, Ruth almost shared his birthday with the man who would break his career homer mark. Hammering Hank Aaron. Feb. 5. Mobile, Ala. I don't know when Barry Bonds was born. Nor do I care.

Everybody knows about Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, but do you know about Lord Baden-Powell? He and George Washington share Feb. 22 as their birth date. Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts and, therefore, had a huge impact on my life. I was an Eagle Scout and a longtime Scouter, even as an adult.

One of the highlights, for me, during a long ago trip to England, was getting to visit Baden-Powell's prep school and seeing where he had carved his initials into his desk - just like many of the run-of-the-mill delinquents his movement helped save.

Gen. William T. Sherman was born in February, and one year my teacher made me do a report on him. She may have been punishing me or perhaps she just wanted to help me become more objective about the whole War of Northern Aggression. It obviously didn't work. I still named my son Jackson Lee, not Willie T.

Thomas Edison was a February baby, and none of us could escape researching his life story. I must admit, he made a huge contribution. I like movies and I listen to records and the first thing I do every morning is turn on the lights, so there you go.

Ronald Reagan was born in February and so was Susan B. Anthony. Now, that's what I call progress. Ms. Anthony couldn't even vote for president, and if she were still alive, she could actually run if she so chose.

I remembered all of those people from school - except Reagan, of course. He was just the guy that peddled 20 Mule Team Borax on Monday nights when I was kid.

I decided this week to do a little Internet research and find out if February is still producing famous folks, and the list is pretty impressive.

In sports we have Fran Tarkenton, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordon, not to mention Freddie Blassie, who used to go against Ray Gunkle every other week on Live Atlanta Wrestling. In country music, Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash, not to mention Tennessee Ernie Ford - speaking of which, when's the last time you actually heard somebody mention Tennessee Ernie Ford?

Several big-time Hollywood movie stars were born in February, too. Clark Gable was one. Lana Turner was another and, moving to more recent times, our own Dakota Fanning will turn 14 on the 23rd.

And in the hot chicks category, the month gave us Christie Brinkley, Farah Fawcett and Jennifer Anniston. I could go on and on and on and I have concluded, after much research, that February still deserves to be known as the Birthday Month.

Now, of course, February has also been designated Black History month, and the bulletin boards in our schools are more likely to reflect that distinction - including the one in my classroom.

For the record, Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Ala., on Feb. 4, 1913.

Happy Birthday, and may she rest in peace.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.