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The Galloping Geezer

The Galloping Geezer
~ Jack Downey Comments on Canadian Issues

Jack Downey ~ The Galloping Geezer
Photo by Julie Ann Biggs


From French m'aidez, help me!.]
    Word History: "Mayday, mayday!" comes the international distress signal over the radio, and nobody stops to ask why the first of May is being mentioned at a time of crisis. Mayday, in fact, has nothing to do with the first of May. Instead, it is a spelling that represents the pronunciation of French m'aidez, "help me," or the latter part of the phrase venez m'aider, "come help me," either of which are quite appropriate at such a critical juncture.

The celebration of the First of May goes back to ancient times. At it's very basic level, it is the time when spring planting is finished and the farm animals and birds have procreated. There is a brief respite for rural folks to enjoy some leisure time. Due to our urbanization, such "Pagan Rituals" have fallen away from Canadian Cultural traditions.

What a shame to have lost this colourful and happy day. If you are lucky, there are a few places left where you can still see young maidens and boys decorate the May Pole. Dressed in ethnic costumes, they dance around a pole with stretched colored ribbons in intricate weaving patterns until the ever-shortening ribbons and the exhausted dancers arrive the base of the pole. The local Band provides the music and will continue to entertain during the following picnic and maybe an evening dance. It is a time for fun, food, romancing and renewal of friendships. Sharp-eyed mothers are sizing up the young men as future husbands for their girls. Even sharper-eyed mothers are sizing up the girls as future brides for their boys. Bachelors are sneaking a nip of White Lightning to brace up their courage to chat with the School Marm. When the sharp-eyed mothers are distracted, couples sneak away to secluded places to do Spring things. Why should they not? Nature has developed so that 'To every thing there is a season and a time.'

'Little House on the Prairie' and 'The Waltons' idealizes the times gone by. But MAYDAY was real. Communities could do themselves a service by bringing this day back into vogue for our youth. Perhaps you can mark in your Day Timer around about next February to form a May Day celebration group in your local park next May 1st. Period costumes, period band music and just plain family fun!

Go back to my introductory history of the distress signal MAYDAY! Many of our communities, families and youth are in distress. Your communities are crying out in French m'aidez (help me) MAYDAY! You can be one of those rescuers that throw out the lifeline to your urban area. Get Pagan, go so far as to have REAL ICE CREAM for the folks that have never sinned or lived in a small town.

You may have missed MAYDAY this year, so that rescue failed, but the Queens' Birthday is coming, another special day in the Merry, Merry month of May.

Here are five other good reasons to TREASURE ~MAYDAY~ and The Merry Month of MAY!

  1. The 24th was a super magic day. Every kid chanted for the week before, "The 24th of May is the Queens birthday. If we don't get a holiday we'll all run away."
  2. The 24th was the day that swimming started. Why the lake was warmer than on the 23rd no one ever explained to me. You still went in swimming like a man and came out like a boy.
  3. Except for School and Sunday school, you went barefoot until school started in September.
  4. You could go with your chums and sleep out in "Jackson's' Valley." You all sat around the fire half cooking wieners and beans, supplemented by some poor rabbit or fish that had met its' fate due to shear bad luck. The nights were cold and you all huddled together in a Spruce bough lean to. Later on you would here the whistle of a train in the distance, ever so lonesome. Every one took a kidney break at different times so complaining and story telling got you through till first light. Then it was more beans and time to check the snares. I never think we ever caught anything in them but we did pretty well on the fish.
  5. There was a troublesome part to the month of May, however. Mothers' Day was coming on rapidly. We were wise enough to know to respect and butter up Mom, because she controlled the door to the Fridge. To young boys with hollow legs that is a power to be reckoned with. Our problem loomed like a mighty Ogre over our heads. Where could we get something for her that she would treasure forever, but only cost us 75 cents? Father's day was easy, a 50-cent plug of chewing tobacco would suit him just fine, but my Maw never chawed, so I'm still debating between a Thimble and a Crochet hook.
Something always gets in the way of enjoying the whole month of May.

Signed; the Galloping Geezer

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