Eric on The Road

Journeys into the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten - by Eric Model

Friday, May 12, 2006

Heard on the Radio: On Mothers & Frogs

As heard on the radio:


Contrary to conventional wisdom, Hallmark Cards did not create Mother's Day.In fact the story is far more interesting and grass- roots than you might think

The first celebrations in honor of mothers were held in the spring in ancient Greece. They paid tribute to Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. During the 17th century, England honored mothers on "Mothering Sunday," celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In the United States, Julia Ward Howe suggested the idea of Mother's Day in 1872. Howe, who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, saw Mother's Day as being dedicated to peace. Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia is credited with bringing about the official observance of Mother's Day. Her campaign to establish such a holiday began as a remembrance of her mother, who died in 1905 and who had, in the late 19th century, tried to establish "Mother's Friendship Days" as a way to heal the scars of the Civil War. Two years after her mother died, Jarvis held a ceremony in Grafton, W. Va., to honor her. She was so moved by the proceedings that she began a massive campaign to adopt a formal holiday honoring mothers. In 1910, West Virginia became the first state to recognize Mother's Day. A year later, nearly every state officially marked the day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed Mother's Day as a national holiday to be held on the second Sunday of May. But Jarvis' accomplishment soon turned bitter for her. Enraged by the commercialism of the holiday, she filed a lawsuit to stop a 1923 Mother's Day festival and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a war mothers' convention where women sold white carnations -- Jarvis' symbol for mothers -- to raise money. "This is not what I intended," Jarvis said. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit!" When she died in 1948, at age 84, Jarvis had become a woman of great ironies. Never a mother herself, her maternal fortune dissipated by her efforts to stop the commercialization of the holiday she had founded, Jarvis told a reporter shortly before her death that she was sorry she had ever started Mother's Day. She spoke these words in a nursing home where every Mother's Day her room had been filled with cards from all over the world. Today, because and despite Jarvis' efforts, many celebrations of Mother's Days are held throughout the world. Although they do not all fall at the same time, such countries as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium also celebrate Mother's Day on the same day as the United States.

Source credit: A history of Mother's Day By HOLLY HILDEBRAND Houston Chronicle Interactive


What is it ? It's a yearly celebration of local culture and history held in Conway the first weekend in May (this year marked the 25th anniversary). The name is taken from a colorful phrase coined during the heyday of steamboats on the Arkansas River. It was said of the boat captains and crews that, while passing the time at the local tavern until the water level was high enough to pass, they would "suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads." Today the festival's theme is toads, with a toad race called Jump for Education, a Toadmaster, a Toad Dome, and a 20-foot inflatable toad. Other events include music, arts and crafts, a business and professional exposition, races, dancing, and a firemen's competition.


One of our favorite events is the Frog Jumping event at the Caleveras County Fair in Angels Camp, California each Spring.

It is an event inspired by the famous Mark Twain story - The Jumpin' Frog of Calaveras County. Moreover, the frog jump event has history of itself - including controversy and national recognition. Finally, the event itself is a fun activity -whether you are a spectator or frog jockey (I can't speak for the frogs although I am told they are treated in a humane fashion).

We have covered the event and its underlying stories ina number of ways over the past 20 years that we have engaged in writing about things off the beaten path.One of our favorite pieces invloved speaking with frog jockeys abouyt their secrets to a successful jump.

A few years back, organizors assembled their own version of some pointers of frog jumpng. we share their findings with you (Source credit: Calaveras County Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee - www.

Part of the secret to jumping a frog is the approach. Since many jumpers feel that frogs respond to movement and surprise, the frog should be dropped onto the 8-inch pad from a distance. Once the frog has left the launching pad, it is illegal to touch him (or her) again. The jockey must convince the frog to move forward for a total of three hops, ideally in a straight line. As the frog completes its first leap, the jockey follows it through its second and third leaps, each time trying to get it to move forward. Longer jumps occur when the frog has no time to get settled, but rather, completes its three hops in rapid succession. As the frog completes its second and third jumps, a catcher, usually another member of the team, will retrieve the frog with a large fishing net.


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