Eagle Archive: Good riddance to short, dark, gray, cold and dreary month of February

T.S. Eliot wrote in the poem, "The Waste Land," published in November of 1922, that "April is the cruelest month."

I could not disagree more.

The month of February is a horrible joke foisted upon us. This, in spite of the fact that Feb. 24, St. Matthias Day, is, by tradition, understood to be the luckiest day of the year.

According to research by the Historical Society of Carroll County, "The Jan. 27, 1922, issue of the Union Bridge Pilot newspaper mentioned St. Matthias Day, saying: 'Another bit of old weather lore comes February 24, St. Matthias day. According to the old saying: 'If he finds ice, he'll break it. If he finds none, he'll make it.'"

Saint Matthias is a pretty mysterious character in the Bible. He is only mentioned twice — in Acts 1:21-22 and Acts 1: 26. In those passages, it is noted that following the Ascension of Christ, 120 disciples were assembled by Peter to choose a replacement for Judas. Two were nominated for consideration, Joseph Barsabbas, also known as Justus, and Matthias.

The choice between the two was determined by the luck of the draw. Acts 1: 26 says, "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias."

His name is never mentioned again in the New Testament, even though he was named the twelfth disciple.

Anyway, when it comes to weather in the month of February, we are not as lucky as Matthias.

Oh sure, we've gotten off pretty easily this year, but in Carroll County, we have a history of natural disasters, including snowstorms, floods, tornadoes, and fires, in February.

On Feb. 19, 1893, a tornado destroyed the steeple at St. Paul's United Church of Christ at the corner of Green and Bond streets.

According to research by state Sen. Joe Getty for the Historical Society of Carroll County, a lengthy article in the February 1893 edition of the now defunct Democratic Advocate provided the following details of the storm: "A violent storm, approaching the force of a hurricane, passed over this city and a portion of this county on Sunday night last."

The article reports, "Smith Hall, the north wing of the principal building of Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), seems to have received the full force of the tempest and was unroofed and damaged to the extent of probably a thousand dollars. ...The structure is 105 feet in length and 30 feet wide. The roof and supporting timbers were lifted from the walls and dashed to the ground an indiscriminate wreck.

"The apartments of the young lady students are in this wing of the college and they were preparing to retire for the night when the catastrophe occurred, and were necessarily alarmed; but their fright was of short duration and they were soon provided with comfortable quarters."

I think I speak for the ladies of then-Western Maryland College: Good riddance to the month of February.

When he is not looking for a four-leaf clover for good luck, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

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