Dog days of summer bring back memories of Punkin’ FarmOne of the joys of being able to write this column are the comments you return. Most are positive kind and generous.
By: Bernie Hughes, The Daily Telegram
One of the joys of being able to write this column are the comments you return. Most are positive kind and generous. Most oral, some written. Most local, but I’ve received some by former city residents who still get the Telegram in their new homes. Good to hear again from those having left the home scene.
A written one on the recent depression column gave me additional information to share. Silver-Tonsberg Printing, still active today, was the printer of the script for the city of of Superior. The city had special paper made with the city of Superior watermark on it. When ordering script ($100,000) paper was issued to the printer and all extra paper and spoilage had to be returned to the City Clerk on completion of order. Printing plates were furnished by the city and had to be returned to the city. Armed guards were furnished to the printer for night duty when the print shop was closed. The script was only to be used in the city of Superior. Thanks Herman.
Having been a youngster in Punkin’ Center, a dairy farm valley, nine miles west of Menomonie Wis., I had heard, early on, about dog days. Too hot, too long.
The humorous explanation of why our farm valley was called Punkin’ Center was that if you planted pumpkins on the hillsides and were a crackerjack shot with the gun, you could shoot and break off the vine so the pumpkins would roll right down to the farm buildings.
So, I heard about dog days very early. Farmers were well aware dog days which were the hottest and muggiest weeks of late summer. Dog days were not favorite days. And hardscrabble farmers didn’t need any additional worries in depression times.
It was during dog days, as a little fella sent to get the cows every afternoon for evening milking, I discovered that dogs could think and procrastinate just like people. Old Shep, our dog, would pretend not to see the cows when dog days first descended on us.
Ordinarily all I’d have to do is point to the cattle and say, “Go get ’em Shep,” and he’d run off a bouncing. But with his long fur coat and the hot summer sun made that extra effort very much less appealing for Shep. He’d look all around except toward the obvious cattle herd. He seemed to be very quietly saying, “I’d sure like to accommodate you, but I just can’t see those cows off yonder there.” Well, Shep disliked my being cross with him even more than dog days, and when I’d give him a sharp rebuke and command again, away he’d go but even then, not full tilt. It was my first understanding, about age 8, that yes, indeed, animals think too.
Back to dog days. Webster mentions dog days as the hottest and muggiest days too, but Gloria Bailey, one of my volunteer riders, and I were discussing it the other day. Trying to remember our first recollections of dog days, we could recall the heat and humidity aspect and something about the creek and river water getting a bit green (algae). Then I remembered my computer and after going home, I turned to Google for the whole story. Are you ready for a quick summary?
American Indians, Chinese and Europeans saw star constellations early on. They would mentally draw lines between stars to form outlines and see different images. The brightest of the stars in Cannis Major is Sinus (the big dog) which happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. During late July, Sinus is in conjunction with the sun so they named this period o time, from 20 days before conjunction until 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.
So now you know the rest of the story, we’ll get back to humor next week.
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at Bernie1@cpinternet.com.