Thursday, February 2, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!

Vintage postcard
Although the movie Groundhog Day features the same day repeating over and over again, the holiday is actually pretty different every year.

Some years, Punxsutawney Phil is covered by the media almost to excess, with breathless on-the-spot reports from Gobbler’s Knob; other years, the holiday is practically ignored and the furry forecaster doesn’t even make the newspaper. I guess it depends on how much actual news there is that day.

Things haven’t changed all that much over the years. Seventy years ago, the Lorain Journal ran this rather serious article on the front page on the eve of the holiday in 1947.

Unfortunately, when I checked the next edition of the paper to see what happened, I found: nothing.

Note that the article mentions three different Pennsylvania towns – Quarryville, Allentown and Punxsutawney – all with their own weather forecasting groundhogs. As Jimmy Durante (or Doggie Daddy said, “Everybody wants ta get into da act!"

Nowadays, our local Cleveland TV and radio stations usually mention Buckeye Chuck (who has a miserable forecasting record) or some other groundhog-come-lately. But although I'm a proud Ohioan, I still have to go with Punxsutawney Phil.

In fact, one of these days, I’m going to head to Gobbler’s Knob just to witness the festivities and cross it off my bucket list.

While preparing this post, I discovered that there must be some truth to the legend that Punxsutawney Phil has managed to live more than a hundred and thirty years by drinking his magical “groundhog punch.” Note that he hasn’t changed a bit on these postcards spanning decades!

Looking for more Groundhog Day fun?

Back in 2012 (here), I looked at how the Lorain Journal covered the mid-winter holiday through the 40s and 50s.  Then, in 2013 I posted a 1959 Journal article (here) that featured an interview with Lorain’s very own (and uncooperative) weather forecasting woodchuck.

I thought about merely reposting one of these today, but I was worried that a few of my longtime readers might think they were experiencing a Groundhog Day-like flashback.

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