Happy Leap Day, Sadie

by Curt Kovener

Today is Leap Day. February 29 is the additional day once every four years to re-align our calendars.
While 75% of our calendars have 365 days, astronomically they are slightly less than 365 1/4 days. So every four years we get an additional day to work, play, learn or loaf.
This is the day that makes our Gregorian calendar to be a bissextile year (that word ought to have gotten the attention of my Baptist friends). This is the day that corrects the calendar drift and allows the chronology to re-set and re-align.
People born on Feb. 29 get to celebrate their birthday. If they are 40, they really have only had 10 birthdays. And take heart if you are an 80-year-old senior citizens born on this day, you are just 20.
Leap Day was also Sadie Hawkins Day, first penned by Al Capp in his now defunct comic strip “Li’ Abner” in 1937.
For my younger readers, some history is appropriate here.Capps’ comic was set in the hillbilly mountain town called Dog Patch. The comic focused on Abner Yocum, his parents Mammy & Pappy Yocum and Abner’s gal-friend and eventual wife Daisy Mae. Daisy Mae was clad provocatively in a low cut shirt tied tie reveal her ample cleavage and a pair of short, short cut-offs. (She was the fore-runner role model for Daisy Duke on the old Dukes of Hazard TV show. Thus how those short cut-offs being called Daisy Dukes. But I digress).
Sadie Hawkins was the homely spinster daughter of the Mayor of Dog Patch. In desperation to marry her off, the mayor set Feb. 29 as Sadie Hawkins Day-a day when women could chase men and if they caught them to marry them.
In 1937 this was socially unheard of. Women who asked men out were considered forward, aggressive hussies.
Capp’s “Li’l Abner” comic was so popular and influencial (the comic was made into a broadway musical, a feature film, and was often performed as a high school musical) Sadie Hawkins Day lifted that social restriction of male-female propriety.
Within two years of that original comic based Sadie Hawkins Day, college campuses here holding Sadie Hawkins Day Dances where ladies asked their favorite feller to attend.
“Li’l Abner” was a popular comic that re-enforced a backwoods stereotype that all mountain people were ignorant, impoverished and lazy. It was wrong but we didn’t pay attention to such things back then because it made us laugh.
Capp was also a satirist bringing to his newspaper strip his take on politics, religion, and social problems of the day. We didn’t pay attention to such things back then either.
Come to think of it, I suppose we still don’t pay attention to such things as long as we are entertained or amused.