Thirty days hath Septober
April, June, and no wonder
All the rest have peanut butter
except grandmother, who was a chifferobe.
It’s a tall thing with big drawers.
Easily fathomed why the sermons are so bad when the mind is so cluttered. Advent Sunday is ominous, apocalyptic, the Time of the End is at hand and the Son of Man is coming suddenly and unexpected, yet the priest thinks about the thirty days of Septober.
Growing up, my next door neighbor was Bill Guy. His mother Mary Elizabeth Burgin Guy was a character who brought home rhymes and ditties, “Septober” being one, often spicy limericks, and sometimes jokes we didn’t get because we were too young to understand what body parts the terms referred to. She told them to Bill, who brought them outside. We did not take them home.
Brunette who chose platinum blond, MEBG was raised in Tuscaloosa and was said to have been a vivacious and popular cheerleader or majorette at the University of Alabama. Linda’s parents knew of her there. She always had lots of friends, and it was no secret that she enjoyed an overactive social life. Even in his father’s presence Bill spoke freely of “mama’s boyfriend,” different men from time to time but usually one who drove a sharp car. One was a short, fat older man, bald with a white fringe, who always picked her up in a light blue 1947 Buick convertible with the top down. Bill called him “Uncle Fred.” We were neighbors from the late thirties all the way through to the very end of the forties and it was always the same, so her ways didn’t seem unusual to us. Bill’s grandmother, Mrs. Burgin (Nanny), lived with them and raised Bill, and was a fine southern cook. I was often invited to dinner, which was the noon meal, at their house, where Bill’s father taught me how to eat a biscuit properly. You poke a hole in it with your finger, fill it with molasses and bite.
Bill’s mother dropped dead sudden and unexpected one evening in December 1949, a month short of her fortieth birthday. The memory is vivid, because I answered the phone to hear Mrs. Burgin next door in a terrible panic, crying, “Mary, get up.” My mother hurried next door and called the ambulance. But a moment later I heard Bill scream, "She's stopped breathing."
That may be why “Septober” raises apocalyptic images for me this time of year.