BY-WAYS - 4/1/43 - The American Boy. The Leap Year Party - March 11, 1943

Due to a slight hangover from the flu I am not sure how far the By Ways will travel in its downward course on Page 4. However, two good friends have come to my rescue with interesting clippings: my cousin, Mrs. Lillian Moore, of Apollo, with a yellowed and slightly dog-eared newspaper clipping that dates back to November, 1881; my former teacher - and still my teacher and friend - Mr. James R. Lytle, of Bartow, Fla., who sends an envelope full of clippings of "the 'whatsoever things are lovely' for your spring inspiration," as he expressed it. Since this is about the beginning of spring, let me include in this week's column the poem he marked in a page taken from "The National Rural Letter Carrier." It was written by Thomas H. Williamson, and is called:


The weatherman said the signs of spring - Not the dogwood trees, and bumble bees,
Were flowers and buds and bees; Nor the tender buttercup
But wire lines tangled in kites and string But skinned shins, and scuffed up knees,
Are a better sign than these. And tousled hair stuck up.
The surest sign of an early spring, With coats and sweaters here and there,
And the best, beyond a doubt, And boys gone out to play;
Are the toy planes upon the wing, This is the sign that spring is here,
And a boy's shirt tail out. And the world is young and gay.

American wealth will vanish like steam,
The gold at Fort Knox be a toy,
If we should awake from a horrible dream,
And there be - no American boy.

Would you like to turn back the pages of history over sixty years, and read an item from the Saltsburg Press when it was only six years old? This clipping, so old that it broke in two at the fold, was found among the personal effects of the late Edward Hawk, who spent his latter years in California, but first saw the light of day in a farmhouse near Livermore, if I am not mistaken. His sister, Mary, married my uncle Thomas Gilkerson. Cousin Lillian is their daughter. The whole Hawk family were handsome and distinguished looking - at least all that I met - and, no doubt, Mr. Ed Hawk was one of the chosen beaus at the Leap Year party described below: RED CLOUD wrote us from Blairsville: Conemaugh township comes to the front with a leap year party which for novelty of design and success of execution is seldom equaled. The party was held at the residence of Mrs. Gilkerson. (1880-1) As young men are comparatively scarce in that vicinity, it was necessary for the ladies to go a considerable distance in order to reach the man of their choice. The modes of travel were varied, and, on the evening referred to, ladies were seen going in all directions; some on horseback, and others in buggies. The distance travelled by some of the ladies was seven or eight miles; one of the fair damsels found the object of her affections at Livermore; another hied away to the classic hills of Eldersridge, and brought from thence a fair specimen of the sterner sex. But the interest was intensified as the ladies, after securing their escorts, began the return trip. As the order of gallantry was reversed, the ladies who were on horseback occupied the saddle, and their admirers were obliged to ride behind. Such an odd sight attracted many eyes, as they passed along on their way to the scene of festivities. Many a cheer rent the air, and the sound of musketry was abroad in the land all along the line of march. They all arrived at their destination in safety, and spent a very enjoyable and pleasant evening. The supper was indeed a rich repast, and was an important factor in the evening's enjoyment. (Written like a true male). The amusements of the evening were varied and interesting, and the time passed pleasantly away until the hour of adjournment was reached. Thus was enacted the first leap year party ever celebrated in that township. The ladies certainly deserve credit for the way in which they acquitted themselves."

Lillian thinks it was one of my mother's parties. So, those were "the good old days" after all. I could not help thinking, as I copied this item, how much Mrs. Jennie Rose would have enjoyed reading it, just to take her back to her girlhood. How light and gay must have been her own young heart! It was with mingled emotions that I read Ina's message of her passing. There is a feeling of thankfulness that she is released from her suffering. She had more than her share. We are all selfish enough to grieve when we lose a real friend. Even when her little body was all broken by her bad fall, she filled out the questionnaire I sent through the Press, just to encourage me, and let me know she was with me all the way. Her faith in God, and in His children was outstanding. Her brave spirit, that rose above her suffering - now, that it is released, has risen to Heaven's heights. May God comfort and sustain her bereaved husband, whose devotion was one of the beautiful things of this earth; and her children, who have lost a real mother.

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 4/15/43 - Hutchinson's Farewell Address

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