Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Columbus Day Memory - 1958

This is me on Columbus Day 1958. Back then, especially in New York, Columbus Day was a big thing. There were parades, and schools and banks were closed. I don't remember if there was mail or not, but the point is that Columbus Day was a big deal. With the advent of revisionist history, coupled with the desire for more leisure time, Columbus Day became one of those "floating" holidays reserved primarily for Federal Employees. I was sad to see this happen over the years as I have some great memories of Columbus Day back in Brooklyn as a kid.

I remember waking up on the holiday and making a Columbus Day "tree" from the newspaper. This photo is of my attempt today to try and replicate that feat. This is the first time in over 50 years that I have tried this. Pretty simple to do. Just take the newspaper, open it to the center and start rolling it into a cone shape. When you are done, simply tape the bottom so that it does not unroll. Then, using a scissors, cut the newspaper from the top opening of the "cone", cutting downward, about 1/3 of the way. Then reach inside the top and gently pull the interior section up and out. If you do this correctly the tree will blossom before your eyes. After doing that, my brother and I would march around the living room, holding our "palm trees" as we did.

The signifigance of the palm tree was that it was the first tree Columbus would have seen when he landed in what he thought was America, but was actually Hispaniola. No matter. My favorite part of the Columbus story has always been his third voyage. That's the time when his group of ships insisted on leaving for Spain just before a low pressure system was due. Columbus, who was an average navigator, but a great meteorologist, cautioned against it. The others left more than 2 weeks ahead of him,and vanished in what we now call a hurricane. And when Columbus arrived in Spain, they were nowhere to be found.

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