Posts Tagged "constitution"

Happy Birthday to George!

Dear Kid,

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw George Washington quote DearKidLoveMom.comHappy Washington’s Birthday.

Once upon a time when I was a child, we had school holidays for both Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays. Then the birthdays were smooshed together and we had Presidents’ Day off. Now kids just take off every day for cold weather.

Today is not officially Presidents’ Day because the officially renaming never happened (federally speaking, that is. Many states choose to call it Presidents’ Day).

I do not have any earrings commemorating president’s day. You do not need to rectify that particular oversight.

The United States has been celebrating Washington’s birthday pretty much as long as the United States has been around. GW himself lost interest after he died, but the country kept celebrating and in 1885 George’s birthday became a federal holiday.

On February 22nd of almost every year since 1888, Washington’s Farewell Address has been read in the US Senate. This is partly because it’s nice for GW’s ghost to hear his words and partly because what he had to say Back Then is a good reminder in the Here and Now. The MomNotes version of the speech: be careful of political factionalism, watch out for geographical sectionalism, keep other countries out of our internal affairs, national unity is critical, and never tell a lie.

GW-ConstitutionIn 1971, lawmakers wearing bell bottom leisure suits created the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved holidays like Columbus Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day to a Monday so that department stores could spend lots of money advertising big sales and so that workers would have more three day weekends. (This only works if you have national holidays off from work.)

These days we celebrate G’s birthday with big sales and cherry pie. Which, while not reverent, may not be the worst birthday celebration I can think of.

Happy three day weekend.

Love, Mom


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Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, and Rodents in Wine Glasses

During Prohibition, wine glasses took on different uses DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

On January 16, 1919, life in the US changed (significantly for some people) as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution took effect and “intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes” became illegal. Instantly, rum became a hair conditioner of choice for many.

Actually, drinking alcohol was never illegal. The amendment actually said manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited. So as long as your hair conditioner alcoholic beverage appeared out of thin air, you were good, legally speaking. Some establishments would charge patrons for an experience (viewing a tiger for instance) and then throw in a drink for free to get around the law.

Rewind to the early 19th century when Americans began to be concerned about the effects of drinking. By the late 19th century the temperance societies had become a powerful political force (but not powerful enough to interest Einstein) and were calling for total national abstinence.

Enter prohibition in January 1919 and nine months late (the normal gestation period for legislation) came the Volstead Act (Woodrow Wilson vetoed it but his veto was overridden) which created the unit of the Treasury Department that had the great privilege of enforcing the 18th Amendment.

Prohibition, of course, worked brilliantly. No one drank, no one smoked, and the entire nation joined hands and sang Kumbaya every morning. Not.

Meanwhile, the “dryness” of the land proved to be excellent soil for growing gangsters, the most famous of whom was Al Capone. It was also good for producing flappers, cool terms like “gat” (short for Gatling gun, but used to refer to any gun), and speakeasies.

The term “speakeasy” comes from the practice of speaking softly about such establishments so the police and/or nosy neighbors wouldn’t know about them. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Prohibition officially came to an end with the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933.

All of which is entirely irrelevant since you are underage.

Hope you learn something else important today.

Love, Mom

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