Anna Jarvis organized the first observance of Mother’s Day in 1908 and campaigned to have the holiday adopted throughout the country. But her next four decades were filled with bitterness and acrimony as she watched her “holy day” devolve into a “burdensome, wasteful, expensive gift-day.” In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast, we’ll follow the evolution of Mother’s Day and Jarvis’ belligerent efforts to control it.
We’ll also meet a dog that flummoxed the Nazis and puzzle over why a man is fired for doing his job too well.
For its December 1897 issue, The Strand engaged three acrobats to create a “human alphabet.”
In 1989 researchers discovered a whale in the Pacific that calls at 52 hertz — the only one of its kind.
Sources for our feature on Anna Jarvis:
Katharine Lane Antolini, Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Struggle for the Control for Mother’s Day, 2014.
Katharine Lane Antolini, “The Woman Behind Mother’s Day,” Saturday Evening Post 288:3 (May/June 2016), 82-86.
“Miss Anna Jarvis Has New Program for Mother’s Day,” The [New London, Conn.] Day, May 9, 1912.
“The Forgotten Mother of Mother’s Day,” Milwaukee Journal, May 13, 1944.
“Founder of Mother’s Day Dies Penniless, Blind at 84,” Pittsburgh Press, Nov. 26, 1948.
Cynthia Lowry, “Woman Responsible for Mother’s Day Died Without Sympathy for Way It Turned Out,” Associated Press, May 4, 1958.
Associated Press, “Mrs. Anna Jarvis Inspires ‘Mother’s Day’ Observance,” May 10, 1959.
Daniel Mark Epstein, “The Mother of Mother’s Day,” Toledo Blade, May 3, 1987.
Marshall S. Berdan, “Change of Heart,” Smithsonian 38:2 (May 2007), 116-116.
Jackie the parodic Dalmatian:
“Hitler-Saluting Dog Outraged Nazis,” World War II 26:1 (May/June 2011), 16.
“Hitler-Mocking Dog Enraged Nazis, According to New Documents,” Telegraph, Jan. 7, 2011.
“Nazi Germany Pursued ‘Hitler Salute’ Finnish Dog,” BBC, Jan. 7, 2011.
Kirsten Grieshaber, “‘Heil Rover!’ Hitler-Imitating Dog Enraged Nazis,” NBC News, Jan. 7, 2011.
Nick Carbone, “Man’s Best Fuhrer: Was Hitler-Saluting Dog a Threat to the Nazis?”, Time, Jan. 9, 2011.
Michael Slackman, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in Finland Who Was Trained to Give a Nazi Salute,” New York Times, Jan. 11, 2011.
This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Steven Jones, who sent this corroborating link (warning: this spoils the puzzle).
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Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
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