Search Bar

Custom Search

search results

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Tucson Rodeo Parade
by Chuck

Today is the day for Tucson's annual Rodeo Parade which heralds the beginning of Rodeo Week in Tucson. The parade, which has been held annually since 1925, is the start of Tucson's week long rodeo which draws entrants from across the U.S. and Canadian west. As the first major outdoor rodeo on the Pro Rodeo circuit, the Tucson Rodeo is the start of the outdoor rodeo season. As such, the parade and rodeo are big events in Tucson and are celebrated accordingly.

Local schools close on Thursday (the day of the parade) and Friday of Rodeo Week each year. Each year the police and a local "vigilante" group identify one vehicle on Interstate -10 with out of state license plates and signal it to pull over. The anxious occupants are then surprised with a gift pack consisting of six days worth of free meals and lodging at a local resort along with free passes to local attractions.

The parade itself attracts about 200,000 spectators who line the route to view the two hour long parade with its numerous old horse drawn wagons, costumed riders and marching bands. Being Tucson, the weather usually cooperates with sunshine and balmy temperatures. As the parade starts at 9 a.m. the temperature is usually between 40 and 50 degrees and then proceeds to rise to the 60 to 70 degree range by parade's end.

The two hour long event consists of local bands, mounted horsemen and women, antique wagons and western theme floats. Parade rules and tradition forbid mechanized vehicles so all wagons and floats are horse drawn. People in the floats and wagons usually dress in either traditional western wear or traditional Mexican dress.

Many floats and marchers dress in historical costumes commemorating Tucson's rich historical past. Among the costumes are riders on beautiful Arabian horses dressed as Spanish Conquistadors with spears and shields embossed with Spanish style coats-of-arms. These were the mounted soldiers who accompanied Padre Kino and other Spanish missionaries as they pushed the borders of New Spain north from Mexico into what is now the southwestern U.S. and, in the process founded the settlement that is now Tucson. Others dress in traditional Mexican cowboy garb with their broad sombreros reminiscent of the cowboys who maintained the ranches during the period before the U.S. government purchased southern Arizona from Mexico and Tucson was a small Mexican town. Nineteenth century U.S. Army Calvary costumes are another reminder of our past and, thanks to old Hollywood movies, a staple of the Old West in people's minds. Included with the Calvary are units representing the black "Buffalo Soldiers" who played a significant, but often neglected, role in the settlement of the southwest. These former slaves, who found work as soldiers and moved west with the Army, made up an important part of the Army's troop strength in Arizona following the Civil War. And then there are representatives from the local Tohono O'odahm Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe Indians. But instead of Hollywood style indian garb they usually dress in the more traditional working cowboy garb common to this area's past and present.

Buffalo Soldiers

The parade ends at the rodeo grounds and this afternoon the first of the week-long series of rodeo events will begin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

George Washington's Farewell to his Troops
by Chuck

February 22nd is the birthday of George Washington, the Father of our country. Father is an appropriate adjective to describe Washington because, not only was he a good father to his two step-children, but, like a good father, he led by example and many of the best traditions in our government were started by Washington. After serving two terms as President, he observed that eight years was long enough for one many to serve as president and elected to step down. This tradition of no more than two terms as president was respected by his successors and the voters for almost a century and a half until Franklin Roosevelt, using the excuse that continuity was needed to succeed in winning World War II, got himself elected to four terms of office (he died before completing his fourth term and it was his Vice President and successor, Harry Truman who presided over our victory in that war). Enough voters and members of Congress were sufficiently concerned by Roosevelt's action that, following the end of the war they amended the Constitution to limit all future presidents to no more than ten years in office (if the president leaves office with two years of less of his term remaining the Vice President can serve those years and then run for two more terms, but if there are more than two years left in the departing President's term, the Vice President can only serve out that term and run for only one more term).

One of the many great legacies Washington left us was the tradition of the military being subservient to the civilian arm of the government. This did not originate with Washington as the Continental Congress, in theory at least, had the power to appoint and fire military officers. But having authority and being able to use that authority are two different things. Successful and popular military commanders before and after George Washington, have routinely displaced their weak, and often incompetent, civilian bosses. In ancient Rome the Senate ruled supreme and military commanders, even if they were heros, were not allowed to enter the city of Rome with their army. But this did not stop Julius Caesar from crossing the Rubicon with his army and replacing Senate rule with his rule. Simon Bolivar, often called the George Washington of South America refused to bow to civilian authority and, after successfully freeing South American from Spanish rule proceeded to retain power as a dictator.

Washington was different. Like most successful people he was proud, ambitious and hard working. However, his pride was tempered with humility. This was not a self depreciating humility, but rather an acknowledgment that he was not a god but a human, created by God like other humans, with talents that he was expected to not only use but also be held accountable for how he used his talents. Acknowledging that he was human and had limitations, allowed Washington to keep things in perspective and not allow his power and success to go to his head. To use a term popular today, Washington was well grounded in that he knew what was important – his family, his farm, his faith, his reputation – and the rest was duty to be honorably discharged so that he could then return to his wife and his farm which were the things that were most important to him.

George Washington was a skilled military commander who had proved his worth in the French and Indian wars earlier in his life. When the Revolution came he actively lobbied for the job as commander in chief of the Continental forces. However, there were other men who were also qualified and who longed for the same position. Even after Washington was given the commission as commander of the Continental forces these men continued to lobby for the job, forcing Washington to fight a two front war – one by day against the British army in the field and one by night defending his actions and wooing Congressional support with letters. Washington truly believed that he was the best man for the job and worked hard to both get and retain the job as commander of the Continental Army.

Unlike many revolutionaries, Washington built, practically from nothing, a professional army that engaged the British army throughout the war. While gurella forces were involved in the war, Washington did not allow the the American cause to disintegrate into a prolonged guerilla action that took decades to wear the enemy down. When the war ended and the last British troops left New York City in the late fall of 1783, George Washington was the commander of the largest army in North America. He was not only the commander but the highly respected leader of his officers and men who, flush with the pride of victory over the most powerful nation in the world, were willing to follow him anywhere. He was also one of the very few men who was known throughout the thirteen colonies. At this time the thirteen colonies were simply a loose confederation of semi-soverign nations each preoccupied with its own affairs and local leaders. Most of our founding fathers were really local leaders and virtually unknown outside their respective states. Washington was a truly national leader who was both well known and well loved and respected by all. Finally, the country was drifting. Inflation was rampant. Congress was weak and its members preoccupied with local special interests. The soldiers and officers were upset by not having been paid and longing to get back to their families and farms.

George Washington was at a crossroads. He could march his army to Annapolis, Maryland where the Continental Congress was currently meeting, take control of the country and straighten out the apparent mess. Or, he could stick by his principles and his vision of a nation of free people caring for themselves, and leave the army to return to his wife and farm. He choose to surrender his command and go home. Angry over lack of promised pay and feeling that Congress did not appriciate their sacrifices, the army was ready to follow Washington if he chose to overthrow the weak civilian regime and replace it with a military dictatorship with him at the head.

Instead, Washington sent out an order for his senior officers to meet with him at the Long Room of Fraunces Tavern at noon on December 4th so that he could bid them farewell. In notes made by some of those in attendance following the meeting report that it was an emotional farewell in which Washington urged them to instruct the junior officers and enlisted men to behave honorably, disband and go home to be leaders in their communities. He had the senior officers agree to join him in working to see that the men received all of the back pay that they deserved. He then bid them farewell and left for Annapolis where he personally presented his resignation to the Congress. Thus, Washington, by his example, established the principle that the military takes orders from and is accountable to the elected civilian rulers.

Below is Washington's resignation address given to Congress on December 23, 1783:

[To the Continental Congress]

[Annapolis, Md. 23 December 1783]

Mr President

The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.

Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the oppertunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence-A diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven.

The Successful termination of the War has verified the more sanguine expectations-and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my Countrymen encreases with every review of the momentous Contest.

While I repeat my obligations to the Army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar Services and distinguished merits of the Gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the War. It was impossible the choice of confidential Officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in Service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice & patronage of Congress.

I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commanding the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those Who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action-and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Preserving the Memory of our Veterans
by Chuck

Reading the spring issue of USAA Magazine (published by the USAA the Insurance and Financial Services organization for current and former members of the military) the other morning while eating breakfast I ran across a short piece about the Registry of Remembrances for World War II veterans at the World War II Memorial being built in Washington, D.C. Veterans, living or deceased are not automatically registered by the government. Instead the veterans or their families have to enter them into this electronic registry.

Names can be added by going on line to I have taken a quick look at the site and the registry is just one part of it. At the site you can check to see if the veteran in question has been entered as well as making the entry yourself. A quick check revealed that my father has not yet been entered but I intend to correct that shortly. From my brief look it appears to be a simple name and home state registry but, when I go in to register it may turn out to be more extensive. I did notice a place for photos so the information that can be entered probably will be more extensive. Names can also be added by calling 1-800-639-4992.

A second site, related but apparently not connected to the WWII memorial is the Veteran’s History Project which is dedicated to preserving veteran’s stories from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the current Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

As with the registry, the entries can be made by the veteran himself or herself or by relatives. The stories can be a remembrance written for the project, an oral recording of remembrances, letters, diaries, photos, etc.

The Veteran’s History Project is supported by the U.S. Congress and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and is a part of a larger American Folklore program operated by the Library of Congress. The website is You can also call 1-888-371-5848.

Again, I only had time to spend a couple of minutes on this site but the project not only seemed extensive but also contained a downloadable kit with forms and instructions for collecting and submitting the information, as well as questions designed to assist a veteran in telling their story.

Like the registry, this site appears to be a great way to both honor and remember the legacy of these veterans. The Veteran’s History Project is also a great way to preserve and publish photos, diaries, letters, etc. for future generations. These types of things are often discarded when closing the homes of the veteran’s when they die or simply get lost or disintegrate with age. If you have these types of materials and are either not interested in saving them yourself and/or wish to share them with the future now would be a good time to donate them to this project. However, if you do have plans for future publication of this material (and there is a growing market for published veteran’s first hand accounts) be careful before donating them as you may be giving up copyrights and future publishing rights.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Search for Maggie Ward
A Book Review by Chuck

The Search for Maggie Ward
by Andrew M. Greeley
Thorndike Press, 1991, 726 pp.
ISBN: 1-56054-980-7

Discharged from the Navy in 1946 following the end of World War II, Jerry Keenan is taking a slow trip home to Chicago. A former naval aviator with two Navy Crosses and no physical scars from the war, Jerry is struggling with inner pain and nightmares from his war time experiences.

While having breakfast in the cafe at the railroad station in Tucson, Arizona, Jerry notices a young woman sitting nearby. Something about the frail and almost ghost like woman stirs Jerry's thoughts away from his own troubles and toward her. Having all but lost his faith in God and having lived with death and horror for the past couple of years, Jerry was close to dead inside. But the sight of this young woman stirs Jerry and begins to rekindle both romantic and sexual desires which have been suppressed by the horrors of the past couple of years of war. The re-emergence of the suppressed romantic and sexual feelings restore his urge to live and he sets off to find this woman.

But the young woman turns out to be struggling with her own demons which Jerry must uncover and overcome in his quest to both discover the real woman behind the emotional wall she has erected around herself and to breech the wall and win her love. In doing so Jerry reacquires his faith in God and will to live and love.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Copyright (C) 1993, 2006 by Charles J. Nugent, Victor L. Nugent & David A. Delgadillo

One day, as Sean the Leprechaun was playing with his friend McGilicudy, Sean's Mom can in and said, "Sean, it is time to get ready to go and get your shot". "Shot", McGilicudy said. "That is fun! I went with my Dad last night. We shot a gun and won prizes." "Oh, boy!", said Sean. "Can I come with you?" asked McGilicudy. "Let me ask my Mom" said Sean. Sean's Mom said than McGilicudy could come and soon they were off - TO THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE!

Sean and McGilicudy were so excited! When they reached the doctor's office McGilicudy thought that something didn't look right but he didn't know what it was. It just did not look like the place he and his father had shot guns the night before. They waited in the waiting room. Both Sean and McGilicudy listened for the sound of shots but heard none. Then they were called into the examining room. Sean and McGilicudy eagerly followed the nurse. But McGilicudy still kept feeling that something was wrong. He just did not know what it was. As soon as they entered the examining room McGilicudy knew instantly what was wrong. This was where the Doctor gave you a shot with a needle - not where you got to shoot a gun! But before McGilicudy could warn Sean and tell him of the terrible mistake the door closed. There stood the Doctor. McGilicudy stood frozen with fear as he remembered standing here for his pre-school physical a year ago. He could feel the shot again.

Sean was still wondering where the guns were as the doctor examined him - but he thought that she was just measuring him to see what kind of gun he could hold. Seemingly without warning, the Doctor pulled out her needle and prepared to give Sean his shot. McGilicudy felt bad about giving Sean the wrong idea about the shot - but he had just made a mistake. Poor Sean, before he knew what was happening Dr. Seamus stuck the needle in his arm and gave him his shot. He started to cry - more from fear and surprise than pain.

As Dr. Seamus removed the needle, McGilicudy backed up against the wall and pleaded, "Please don't give me a shot - I had one last year before I started school." Dr. Seamus quickly assured him that she would not give him a shot.

But poor Sean was still crying and said, "I thought we were going to shoot a gun and get a prize". At that moment both Dr. Seamus and Sean's Mother realized what the confusion was all about.They explained to Sean and McGilicudy that you get SHOTS from a needle to keep you strong and healthy or take SHOTS at a target with a gun to win prizes. Sean and McGilicudy now realized their mistake - one word two meanings, the world could be really confusing at times.

But Sean was still crying. "I really wanted one of those prizes", he said. "No problem" said Dr. Seamus as she rang for the nurse who soon came running with a box of prizes. "Since I never miss with my shots, you always win a prize here" she said with a smile. A bright smile came across his face as Sean reached in and selected his prize - a nice red squirt gun. Seeing a green squirt gun next to it Sean said "Can McGilicudy get a shot too so that he can get the green squirt gun?"

Poor McGilicudy stood frozen - afraid to get a shot and afraid of not getting the green squirt gun so that he could play with Sean. But sweet old Mrs. McGreggor, the nurse, seeing poor McGilicudy's plight quickly came to his rescue by suggesting that he be given a prize for having received a shot the year before.

Everyone left happy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thought for Today

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) - Three Candlemas Poems

Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674) was an English poet in the time of Charles I. He graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge in 1617 and took religious orders in the Church of England ten years later in 1627.

While he remained single all of his life many of his poems are about women, lovemaking and the female body. He also wrote spiritual and other lyrical poetry.

Our interest in him here centers on three poems below dealing with Candlemas.


Down with the rosemary and bays,
Down with the misletoe;
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineer,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
Or Easter's eve appear.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kin,
To honour Whitsuntide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With cooler oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old.


Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.


Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunset let it burn;
Which quench'd, then lay it up again,
Till Christmas next return.

Part must be kept, wherewith to teend
The Christmas log next year;
And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
Can do no mischief there.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Willie Woodchuck Misses Groundhog Day
by Chuck

Willie Woodchuck swallowed the last morsel of the tender roots he and his wife had been dining on in the meadow by their home. It was a beautiful fall day but he knew that soon the north wind would bring cola and then snow to the land. However, he didn't care because he and his wife had a nice snug borough among the roots of the old oak tree behind them. He and his wife had been gathering fresh grass and leaves to make warm and cozy beads for their long winter's sleep. The summer had been good and the food plentiful. Now both he and his wife had a large layer of fat around their tummies. The fat would keep their bodies warm and nourished as they slept the coming winter away.

Yes, life was good, but Willie was troubled. As the local groundhog, it was Willie's job to wake up from his winter sleep on February 2nd and check the weather by looking for his shadow. If he crawled out of his borough and saw his shadow he would know that winter would continue for six more weeks. If this was the case he would immediately return to his borough and resume his sleep. But, if he didn't see his shadow he would know that winter was ending and would proceed to start looking for food and starting another spring and summer.

Willie enjoyed being the local groundhog and letting the world know each year how soon spring would come. In the past people and animals would come from all over to see him come out and look for his shadow. He loved that moment of glory each year and had eagerly looked forward to waking up and going outside on February 2nd.

But in recent years fewer and fewer people came to see him. Even the animals stopped coming. Why, this past year only old farmer McGilicudy and his horse Molly came. Oh, yes, Roger Robin also came as did Reggie the fox. But he suspected that Reggie was more interested in the chance to have Willie for breakfast than in Willie's prediction for spring. Even Ajax, farmer McGilicudy's faithful hound, elected to remain behind napping in the barn rather than venture out to see Willie.

As he prepared to go to bed for the winter, Willie was still upset. So upset in fact that he decided not to set his alarm clock for February 2nd. I am just going to sleep in and let everyone guess themselves when spring is coming. "Oh! But you can't do that," said his wife. "It is your job and everyone is depending upon you," she continued. "You have responsibilities and must do what you agreed to do when you became the local groundhog." She snuggled into their warm bed of grass and leaves and ended with, "now set the alarm and come to bed, I'm tired."

So Willie set the alarm and went to sleep.

February 2nd arrived and he pulled himself out of bed, turned off the alarm and quietly made his way to the door leaving his wife to continue her sleep.

Emerging from the borough he looked over toward the hill across the stream and saw only old farmer McGilicudy and his horse Molly. Even Roger Robin and Reggie Fox had elected to stay home. Poor Willie, he was so sad. But, remembering that he was the star of this event, he pulled himself together, stood up as straight as he could, sniffed the air and looked down to see if he could see his shadow. His sharp nose had detected the hint of spring in the morning air and so he was not surprised to see that there was no shadow. Spring was a bout to come.

Mustering all the dignity he could, he looked toward the hill, gave a slight bow of his head to his audience of two and proceeded to begin foraging for food. Noticing some new green shoots on the other side of the old oak tree, he dug up some roots and returned to the borough with breakfast for himself and his wife.

Looking down from the hill, farmer McGilicudy felt a twinge of sadness for Willie. He was certain that Willie was saddened by the lack of an audience. "But that is crazy" he told himself. "He's just a woodchuck doing what woodchucks do instinctively. But in his heart of hearts he felt that the little woodchuck was saddened by the poor turnout.

Despite his long winter's rest and the tasty breakfast he had found, Willie was very sad. "I just don't have a place in the modern world" he told his wife. "They have televisions and satellites and don't need groundhogs to predict the weather." No matter how much his wife tried to reassure him, Willie remained despondent all summer.

What Willie did not know was that once home, farmer McGilicudy would tell his wife about Willie not seeing his shadow and she would get on the telephone and start telling her friends and they, in turn, would call other friends. Then farmer McGilicudy would go into town and meet his friends for coffee at Sam's Restaurant.

Among the group having coffee would be TV weatherman Bob. Weatherman Bob would always dismiss Groundhog Day as mere superstition and explain how, with all of his scientific gadgets could really predict the weather. But, in his twenty-five years as the TV weatherman, Bob had never missed coffee with farmer McGilicudy at Sam's Restaurant on groundhog day. That is because he knew that Willie Woodchuck's prediction was always right and, once he had that prediction he would go on TV and make his prediction for spring – without ever mentioning Willie. In twenty-five years Weatherman Bob had always been right about the start of spring. So right, that TV stations all over the country would re-broadcast Weatherman Bob's February 2nd prediction of the start of spring.

The same with the animals. Once back in the barn, old Molly the mare would tell the cows and pigs and other animals. They in turn would tell others they met in the field and so on. This little network was so good that there was not a person nor an animal in the area that did not know about Willie's shadow, or lack of it, within a few hours of his coming out of his borough. But Willie didn't know this and he felt so un-needed.

Farmer McGilicudy also began to feel put upon by the fact that he and Molly were the only ones who bothered to crawl out of their beds on those cold and dark February second mornings to partake in the ritual. Everyone was eager to know what the results were but, like Weatherman Bob, they would pooh-pooh the ritual as a silly old superstition while secretly making their spring plans based upon whether or not Willie saw his shadow.

It was a good and bountiful summer but both farmer McGilicudy and Willie were both still troubled over the events of Groundhog day. As the days began to turn colder and the leaves fell off the trees the thoughts of both were focused on the coming Groundhog day. One fall day, after finishing his chores, farmer McGilicudy took a ride on Molly out to the hill where he stood each Groundhog day to observe Willie. As he stood there, gazing toward the old oak tree, he noticed Willie and his wife eating the last of the roots they had found that day. Finishing their meal, Willie and his wife headed toward their borough to start their winter sleep. Before entering, Willie stood up on his hind legs and looked back toward the hill and saw farmer McGilicudy and Molly. Farmer McGilicudy gave him a sad wave and Willie sadly shook his head and then turned his back and went in to go to bed. Suddenly, both knew there would be no Groundhog Day next spring. Both also had a feeling that spring would be late next year.

Willie set his alarm for late March and settled in for his long sleep.

Farmer McGilicudy arose on the cold February 2nd morning and rode out to the old oak tree but, as he expected, Willie did not show. Returning home, he went back to bed. Soon people were calling him asking about the Groundhog. He told them that it hadn't made an appearance. "Well, when is spring coming?" they asked. Farmer McGilicudy would always answer that by observing that it was only an old superstition and that they should watch Weatherman Bob on TV as his instruments always gave him the correct answer. But weatherman Bob's instruments were not that precise and he didn't have an answer. But TV viewers all over the nation were tuned in to hear his prediction so he had to say something. So he guessed and predicted an early spring. Since he had been right twenty-five years in a row, everyone believed him and began making plans for an early spring. All that is except farmer McGilicudy. He decided to wait and see. Unlike the others, farmer McGilicudy, did not have that much faith in weatherman Bob.

Well, the days did start to get warmer and everyone began to prepare for an early spring. Coats and boots and jackets were put away. Sleds, skates and skies were packed away and bicycles, skateboards and baseball bats pulled from their basement storage. The town put away its snowplows and people put their snow blowers and snow shovels in their garages and brought out their garden tools. Farmers plowed their fields and planted their crops and homeowners dug up the ground and planted their gardens. All were basking in the early spring that was starting to bloom around them.

Then it hit. One day in late February the temperature began dropping. Then the cold wind began blowing. Finally it began to snow. It snowed and snowed and snowed. All night, all the next day and all the next night. Schools closed. Traffic was jammed in the snowbound streets. Fields with their newly sprouting crops were suddenly buried in snow. It was terrible. They were really mad at Weatherman Bob and would turn off their TV sets when he came on for the weather. Nobody believed him anymore. People were angry and confused. The situation was so bad that the mayor called a meeting of the whole town. Everyone blamed Weatherman Bob for his bad forecast and they blamed the Mayor for putting the snowplows away. Wives blamed their husbands for putting away the snow blowers and husbands blamed their wives for putting away the winter coats and boots.

In the fields and forest the animals were also mad. Like their human neighbors, they had also assumed an early spring and had adjusted their lived accordingly. "We had a comfortable alcove in the barn for the winter" said Roger Robin's wife "and we left it to build a beautiful nest which is now totally ruined by the snow and wind." "I left a cozy cave where I was sleeping peacefully and now I'm cold and hungry" said the local bear. As in the town meeting, the animals were angry.

As the chaos and controversy engulfed the meeting, farmer McGilicudy sat quietly, deep in thought. Finally he stood up and a hush spread over the audience. "Friends" began farmer McGilicudy, "we have only ourselves to blame for this." "For years you laughed at the idea that a groundhog could tell the weather." "But, for the last 25 years that little woodchuck in the meadow beyond my field has always been right". "This year none of us bothered with him and I doubt that he bothered to get up to check for his shadow." "Next year, let us all go out to the meadow, as we used to do in the past, and show him that we appreciate his annual prediction."

And that is what they did. The next year the whole town gathered on the hill opposite the old oak tree to watch the appearance of Willie. Animals from far and near also gathered around the tree to await his emergence. After a severe scolding from his wife the summer before, for not doing his duty, Willie had set his alarm clock for February 2nd and decided to do his job whether or not people appreciated it.

As Willie emerged from his borough he heard a great cheer. Looking up he saw the hill covered with people and the oak tree surrounded by all of the animals. He was so proud and so happy. He stood on his hind legs, sniffed the air and glanced down. Seeing no shadow, he proceeded to gather some food to take back to his wife.

That evening viewers all over the nation watched as weatherman Bob, bursting with new found confidence, predicted an early spring and to prove that he was right this year, he instructed the cameraman to roll the film of Willie's emergence from his borough. "Based upon the best scientific data and confirmed by my fury little college, we predict an early spring." And he was proved right when spring did come early.