The Galloping Geezer
~ Jack Downey Comments on Canadian Issues
Photo by Julie Ann Biggs
MAYDAY…MAYDAY ~ or IN THE MERRY, MERRY MONTH OF MAY
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!
Something always gets in the way of enjoying the whole month of May.
- 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."
- 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.
- Except for School and Sunday school, you went barefoot until school started in September.
- 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.
- 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.
Signed; the Galloping Geezer
Jack C. Downey CD
Send comments to: Jack
Thanks for your help
Your Ideas are Important!
Content is contributed by various Canadians and does not necessarily
reflect the views of canadianculture.com.