Happenings on the February calendar

Well, February has an extra day this year, and it’s been known to drag by slowly anyway, but at least February is still shorter than the often difficult month of March.

So, the groundhog will be dragged out and do his thing and go back to his burrow, Shrove Tuesday will see many a pancake consumed with glee, Valentine’s Day is not so far off and look at that  strange  29  on the end of this month.

As we launch forth on this second month of 2016, here’s a look at February odds and ends down through the years:

• February 2, 1893 — A cameraman at Thomas Edison's just-completed moving-picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey, took the first close-up in motion-picture history. It was a close-up of comedian Fred Ott sneezing. Classy, eh?

Fifteen years earlier, on February 19, 1878, Edison had received a patent on a new-fangled contraption that he called the phonograph.

People scoffed and said it would never catch on.

• February 6, 1961 — How’s this for over-kill. In an apparent attempt to really drive home their point, police in East Orange, New Jersey, actually arrested anyone having overdue books from the local library. Criminals weren’t bothered that day, but procrastinating library users really got the shaft because, as one policeman put it, “You just never know what this kind of tardiness will eventually lead to!” Sure. Right.

• February 7, 1948 — Barbara Ann Scott won the gold medal in figure skating  at  the Winter Olympics.

• February 8, 1990 — Sadly, ’60s rock ’n’ roller Del Shannon shot and killed himself in his home in California.  He was 50. Shannon's first hit, Runaway, was his biggest. It went to No. 1 on the North American charts in 1961.  His other top 20 singles included, Hats Off to Larry, Little Town Flirt, and Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun).

• February 10, 1942 — The first gold disc ever presented to a recording artist was given by RCA Victor to the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The group received the award for their recording of the classic hit, Chattanooga Choo Choo, which sold more than 1.2-million copies. Trivia connoisseurs will remember that it appeared on the Bluebird label.

• February 14, 1988 — They talked about this blizzard in the N.W.T. for a long time. It started on Valentine’s Day with winds over 100 km/h causing enormous snow drifts, which resulted in one resident of Iqaluit observing that he knew it was a bad storm when he saw his neighbour walk by his second-storey window.

• February 14 — Valentine’s Day. 

Riddle: What would you get if you crossed a sledgehammer with a Valentine?

Answer: A real heartbreaker.

• February 15 — Did you know that the third Monday in February is always Heritage Day? Sadly, it's about as well known in our country as Flag Day.  And, speaking of that...

• February 15 — Did you know that this is Flag Day? It marks the anniversary of the first raising of Canada’s official flag, the Maple Leaf, over Parliament Hill in 1965, thanks to then Prime Minister   Lester B. Pearson.

• February 15, 1842 — Adhesive postage stamps made their first appearance in New York City. Previously, stamps were nailed onto letters?  

Anyway, thank goodness for self-sticking, pressure-sensitive stamps. Best thing that ever happened to your tongue.

• February 16, 1968 — Nancy Greene won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom event.

• February 26, 1960 — Anne Heggtveit won the first Canadian gold medal in skiing at the Winter Olympics.

• February 29 — Leap year day. It happens every four years, as an extra day suddenly appears on the calendar. At least it doesn’t happen in March, when it would be a lingering winter month of 32 days.

• February 29, 1288 — A law was enacted in Scotland permitting spinsters to propose to bachelors in a leap year.