This third Monday of February has been called “Presidents’ Day” for a long time now, but it simply isn’t the same as the old Washington Birthday holiday. Once, you may recall, we had two pretty good holidays in February, Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s. And they were celebrated on the real birthdays, the 12th and 22nd. One good part of the day, however, it gives me another chance to take a trip down memory lane.
Washington’s Birthday was always the more important, at least as far as celebration was concerned. For one thing, the winter school vacation week occurred during the week in which the birthday came. Now, that vacation comes with President’s Day.
But the real fun of the week was the various sales that offered truly great bargains for shoppers. It was a great time to buy an automobile, jewelry, household goods, just about anything. And honest bargains, not just in name, were available. Auto dealers today still use the holiday to proclaim special prices, and many stores also offer what they call bargains, but neither situation approaches the prices of the goods that stores wanted to rid themselves of during the Washington Birthday Sale.
Most of the items that were on sale were outdated, been in storage for long periods of time, or stuff that simply wasn’t selling. But folk who knew what they wanted and what the costs of items were could buy very useful and good items, although possibly not the most chic. I remember one such item we bought during the sale. It was a style of slide projector that most people wouldn’t want. But it suited our needs perfectly and we bought it for about one half of what it has been listed for during the previous several months. We first looked at as a Christmas present. But no one had wanted it, so we got a real good deal. We still have that projector but it has been a long time since we looked at slides.
We bought a new car once during the Washington Birthday sale. Since it coincided with our first solo negotiations for a new car, and in fact was our first new car, I can’t swear we got a great deal. I think it was, though, as we paid far less than we had expected and far less than the advertised price. At the time we believed we had gotten away with something. Of course that was in 1963 and since then I think I’ve learned a little about buying cars. Aw, shucks! It was still a good deal.
As I think back through those years, we bought many furnishings, first for our apartment and then for our new home. We didn’t need the latest and greatest, couldn’t afford them, either, but we looked forward to the Washington’s Birthday Sales and saved many, many dollars over the years.
Today I see advertised “specials” touting the Presidents’ Day sales. But most of the items I see are advertised at the same basic prices they sell for throughout the year. As for automobiles sales, can you think of any week during the entire year that is not a sale period for automobiles?
In any event, today we celebrate the birthdays of our presidents, notably Lincoln and Washington but now expanded to include all. It just isn’t the same as “the good old days.” It’s probably better. I hope you had a successful spree.