TO THE BYZANTINES, SEPTEMBER 1 WAS the anniversary of the creation
of the world. For citizens of Poland, it was the beginning of the end
of the world in 1939 when the Nazis invaded.
The poet W.H. Auden thought it was the end of a world, too,
the end of a low dishonest decade, when he penned September
1, 1939 upon hearing the news of Nazi tanks smashing Polish cavalry.
September 1 is also the anniversary of the death of Louis
the Fourteenth of France. Mission San Luis Obispo was founded on September
1. Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason on this day, and Martha, the
last passenger pigeon in America, died in the Cincinnati zoo.
King Idris I of Libya was overthrown by Moammar Kaddafi
in a coup on September 1. And three television shows were aired for
the last timeI Dream of Jeannie, Gunsmoke,
and Skipper!, the Ward Craven vehicle.
Korean Airlines Flight 007 was shot down off the Kamchatka
Peninsula by Soviet MIGs on September 1. And the remains of the RMS
Titantic were finally discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Since it was an R month, September 1 is the
first day one can eat oysters. And there are two notable birthdays on
September 1those of Dr. Phil, the television psychiatrist, and
Mohammed Ata, an unknown Egyptian living in the United States.
September 1 is alsoand fortunatelythe annual date of The
Blessing of the Salamanders and Gnutes Festival held at Mission
This particular Friday was bright blue. The fog had neglected
to come in as an offshore wind ruled. The temperature was a breezy seventy-degrees
and local children from the parish and their parents were getting ready
for the small parade that would start in a matter of hours. The padre
would lead the children, all brightly dressed, some in gnute and salamander
costumes, down to the creeks where holy water and blessings would be
bestowed upon the local amphibian population.
On the mission grounds food tents and craft tables were
being set up. Mariachis were warming up on the small wooden stage that
would be shared by local and out-of-town performers. Ward Craven and
Ksen would perform Episode 24 from Skipper! as they had
every year, and last minute entry, Coast Guard volunteer Ed Mister and
the Orange Seamen, were collecting their instruments near the stage
where they would spoof all over everyone.
Such was September First.