The month of November has always been a special month to me. It’s the month of memories and reflections. My mom always disliked November with its dying flowers, falling leaves, and portent of winter. To her it represented death and dying; and indeed, it does, in a symbolic sort of way.
It is my belief that God created the seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter to remind us that our lives also have seasons in our journey through life. At the age of 84, I feel that I am in the “autumn” of my life.
November is the month of memories. Pleasant and bittersweet memories of childhood Novembers pass before me with remarkable clarity. At Kuser School, and I dare say, all 1940’s type grammar schools, this was the time of year when we would bring out the black, gold and orange construction paper, the crayons, and the wheat paste. Turkeys, pilgrims, pumpkins, cornstalks, and cornucopias were artfully drawn, cut out, and pasted on school windows, doors, walls and halls.
“Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home,
All is safely gathered in,
‘ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Father, doth provide,
for our wants to be supplied,
Come to God’s own Temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home”
What a delightful November memory! November was the month of long, dark evenings in my “secret place.” I think all of us at one time or another have had a secret place. Mine was under the legs of our big console radio. There was a need, or a sense of security to be found in that corner. It was there that I met all my radio friends; The Lone Ranger, Captain Midnight, Hop Harrigan, Superman, Jack Armstrong, and Terry and the Pirates. It was there that I grew to love music; “The American Album of Familiar Music,” “The Longine Symphonette,” “Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands,” and the hauntingly beautiful voice of Kate Smith on her Friday night radio show when my sister-in-law Gloria cried as she sang,
“You’ll never know just how much I miss you,
You’ll never know just how much I care.
And if I tried, I still couldn’t hide my love for you,
You ought to know for haven’t I told you so, A million or more times.
You went away and my heart went with you,
I speak your name in my every prayer.
If there is some other way to prove that I love you,
I swear I don’t know how,
You’ll never know if you don’t know now…”
My secret place was a reading place. It was here that I journeyed to Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry Men, here where I tearfully read the sad tale of “Black Beauty,” and here where I joined the “Bobbsey Twins” and “Terry and the Pirates,” “Hop Harrigan,’ and “Superman” in exciting radio adventures.
But November wasn’t just spent in my secret place. There were those crisp, cool November evenings around the piano with Pop Glover playing and all of us singing. Back when I was a boy today’s “Veterans’ Day” was known as “Armistice Day.” How I remember singing all those wonderful songs of World War II, ever mindful of the photos atop that old grand piano of brothers Len in the U.S. Army Air Corps and brother Bud U.S. Navy:
“There’s a star spangled banner waving somewhere,
in a distant land, so many miles away,
Only Uncle Sam’s great heroes get to go there,
That is where I want to live some sweet day.
I’d see Lincoln, Custer, Washington, and Perry,
Nathan Hale, and Colin Kelly, too…”
Yes, November is the month of memories. It was steam on the kitchen windows as Mom arose at 5:30 on a Thanksgiving morning to start our dinner. November was when we couldn’t afford a Thanksgiving turkey, but gave thanks for a Thanksgiving chicken dinner. November was Thanksgiving with tables laid end on end, from our living room to our dining room, and all of us together; a picture even Norman Rockwell couldn’t paint.
“Oh it’s a long, long while, from May to December,
and the days grow short, when you reach-‘September,
and the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,
One hasn’t got time, for the waiting game,
And the days dwindled down, to a precious few,
September, November and these few precious days,
I’ll spend with you, these golden days,
I’ll spend with you”
Yes, this is the beautiful month of November; for many of us, a month of bittersweet memories. For me, a time to pause and realize that life is so very short, and November comes so very quickly.
See y’all next month!