February, a Month of Questions
Welcome to the February 2010 edition of “Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.
To most of us, the month of February means Washington’s birthday (celebrated this year on the 15th, although he was born on the 22nd), Valentine’s Day (the 14th) and Lincoln’s birthday (the 12th), which isn’t observed much. Oh, and, of course, there’s Groundhog Day. But it’s also the month that, for some reason I could never fathom, we here at Yankee Magazine receive the most questions from readers. Here are three that come to mind …
1. “What is the shortest distance between Rhode Island and New York as the crow flies?” We published that question, and a series of answers ensued. It was, of course, a trick question, because the answer was “no distance.” “Picture a seagull floating out in Long Island Sound,” the final letter read. “His head could be in Rhode Island while his wings are in Connecticut and his tail in New York.”
2. “Why is a ship always called ‘she’?” We used a letter from Oakton, Virginia, as our answer to that question, even though it might have been a tad sexist. The writer quoted something titled “A Man and His Ship,” saying, “There’s always a great deal of bustle about her. There’s usually a group of men around … She takes a lot of paint to keep her looking good. It’s not the initial expense that breaks you but rather the upkeep. She’s all decked out. It takes a good man to handle her right. She shows her topsides, but always hides her bottom.” (Well, these days I might take out the word “always.”)
3. “Can you tell us your favorite swop that’s been published in Yankee?” Well, we could have answered that question with any one of many “favorites.” But since it was February, cold and snowy as usual, we chose the following from Massachusetts: “Will swop handmade size 5 champagne-colored wedding dress with appliqued lace and chiffon skirt, and size 51/2 keepsake 17-karat diamond ring, for a wood-and-coal-burning stove.”
Surely there’s a true-life story in there somewhere …