Susan Vaughan here. While going through a calendar given to me, I found a number of special commemorative days and sort-of holidays I’d never heard of. I’m betting few of you have heard of them too. September has more than a dozen, but I’ll cover only the ones that intrigued me.
September 1 is Emma M. Nutt Day. According to Wikipedia, the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, Massachusetts, began hiring boys who had been telegraph operators to be telephone operators, but their lack of patience and tendency for pranks and cursing were unacceptable for live phone contact, so the company began hiring women operators instead.
On September 1, 1878 Emma Mills Nutt (1860–1915), lured away from a telegraph office, became the world’s first female telephone operator, starting a career that lasted between thirty some years. More than one reference stated it was Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the first practical telephone, who hired her. Apparently her soft, cultured voice and calm demeanor made callers feel comfortable. And reportedly, she could remember every number in the directory of the New England Telephone Company.
This experiment was so successful that soon all the boys were replaced by women. By the mid 1900s, a majority of telephone operators in the country were women. Additionally, Emma’s employment strengthened the slowly growing idea that women could work outside their homes and contribute to the society and economy.
Next up is National Be Late for Something Day. Shortly after Les Waas founded the Procrastinators’ Club of America in 1956, the club’s committee created Be Late for Something Day, as an “unofficial” national holiday, a day to promote the positive aspects of procrastination. “Most people think they don’t have time to stop and smell the roses,” Waas said, “This day tries to alleviate that factor.” It may be hard for some of us not to do as we are taught to follow regulations and schedules (raising hand here). Today’s busy lifestyles put pressure on us to be here and be there at certain times and we are always watching the clock.
So take a moment to slow down a bit, enjoy the scenery, take a few minutes longer for lunch, visit with a friend, play with your children, etc. and just be late for something because of that side trip! It’s allowed on September 5 because it’s National Be Late for Something Day! Oops, we’re too late, ah well…
But we’re not too late for Swap Ideas Day, September 10. Its origins are murky, says the National Day Calendar, but it is believed that the creator of this day was Robert Birch, who also invented Lumpy Rug Day, Trivia Day and Nothing Day.
The idea behind Swap Ideas Day is that people celebrate by connecting with others to share thoughts and concepts. No rules involved, so Swap Ideas Day is an ideal opportunity for people to be as creative and wacky as they like with their ideas as well as learning from the ideas of others. This can continue throughout the entire day and by day’s end, we could have plenty of new information and helpful ideas. To post on social media, use #NationalSwapIdeasDay.
My favorite of the obscure holidays is September 17, National Apple Dumpling Day. Yum. This delicious dish originated as a humble peasant dish in England, Bavaria and Austria. Originally, apple dumplings used to be boiled and steamed, and the word itself comes from German dampf, meaning steam. Nowadays, this aromatic dish is typically baked and spiced. The crucial spice is cinnamon, though nutmeg and lemon zest are popular as well. We in North America and many people across Europe bake the dumplings and other apple concoctions for dessert during the apple harvest season and into winter.
Here’s a recipe for Apple Dumplings I adapted from several sources. Those who can actually make pastry will frown, but I have failed too many times at pastry, so I use refrigerated pie crusts.
Ingredients: Pastry for a two-crust pie; 6 cooking apples, 8 if apples are small (Granny Smith or Braeburn); 3 tablespoons each of raisins and chopped nuts; ½ cup sugar or more if desired; 1 cup water; ½ cup corn syrup; 2 tablespoons butter; ¼ teaspoon (I like more) cinnamon.
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. 2. Roll out the pastry into two 14-inch squares; cut each into two 7-inch squares. (Yes, two extra if you use 6 apples.) Peel and core apples. Place an apple on each square. 3. In small bowl, mix raisins and nuts. Fill apples with raisin and nut mixture. 4. Moisten corners of pastry squares. Bring two opposite corners up over each apple and pinch together to seal. 5. Place dumplings in un-greased 13×9-inch glass baking dish. 6. In 2-quart saucepan, heat sugar, water, corn syrup, butter, and cinnamon to boiling, stirring occasionally. Boil three minutes. Carefully pour around dumplings. 7. Bake about 40 minutes, spooning syrup mixture over dumplings two to three times, until crust is golden and apples are tender when pierced by a toothpick. 8. Serve warm or cool with whipped cream or ice cream.