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Cat in the Stax: The Lore and Scandals of Groundhog Day

By Ethan Shea

"Groundhog"

It’s Groundhog Day, and as residents of Pennsylvania, we should all rejoice, as this holiday originated in our state with the one and only Punxsutawney Phil. According to local lore, there really is only one Punxsutawney Phil, and there has never been another. In fact, the original Phil has been making annual weather predictions since 1886. Despite the average lifespan of groundhogs being only three years on average, Phil is currently over 135 years old.

Phil’s secret to longevity is the “elixir of life,” a secret drink he enjoys every summer at the Groundhog Picnic. Each serving of this magic drink grants Phil another seven years of life.

By the time this blog is published, Phil will have already made his weather prediction. However, there are other groundhogs throughout the country who take to the stage every Groundhog Day. My personal favorite (aside from Phil, of course) is Staten Island Chuck, who is formally known as Charles G. Hogg. Chuck has been New York City’s official groundhog meteorologist since 1981, and in spite of his relatively young career in the meteorology industry compared to Phil, he is no stranger to controversy.

In 2009, Chuck bit former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the Groundhog Day ceremony, and as a result, Chuck was secretly replaced by his granddaughter Charlotte for future festivities. Moreover, during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first Groundhog Day ceremony, he dropped Charlotte! One week later, Charlotte passed away, and the Staten Island Zoo did not announce her death until several months later.

"Pierre C. Shadeaux"

Pierre C. Shadeaux of Louisiana

There has been lots of controversy surrounding whether de Blasio inadvertently killed Charlotte. Some even believe the Staten Island Zoo attempted to hide her death, but since the event, the zookeepers have confirmed they do not believe the fall was the cause of Charlotte’s death.

Some other famous groundhogs worth knowing are Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, Chuckles XI of Connecticut, Chattanooga Chuck of Tennessee, and Pierre C. Shadeaux of Louisiana.

Hopefully no more scandals about today’s holiday are revealed in the future, and all the nation’s groundhogs continue to perform their sacred duties in peace.

If you’d like to take part in today’s festivities from the comfort of your home, consider picking up the classic movie Groundhog Day, which is available here at Falvey on DVD or through streaming. Happy Groundhog Day everyone!


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate student and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Cat in the Stax: Banned Books Week Hits Close to Home

By Ethan Shea

""

Sunday, Sept. 26 marked the official beginning of Banned Books Week 2021. This celebration of the freedom to read hit close to home this year when controversy surrounding a book ban in York, Pa., made national headlines.

Just a couple weeks ago, there were several protests against the Central York School District’s imposition of what was effectively a book ban targeting antiracist literature. Some of the banned material included a children’s picture book titled I Am Rosa Parks, a story of the life of Malala Yousafzai, a documentary about James Baldwin, and an episode of Sesame Street on racism. The Central York School District claimed these texts were merely under review, yet this “review process” nearly lasted a year.

These books were banned last October, but this August, teachers in the district received an email telling them to continue to avoid a list of texts that included several Black writers. This ban was recently lifted as calls to reverse the ruling became more widespread, but the fact that the ban endured for so long shows that the fight for the freedom to read is ongoing. Banned Books Week comes at an especially apt time this year, as the reversal of this book ban gives readers everywhere a special reason to celebrate.

It is worth noting that denying access to books through exorbitant costs can work as an effective ban against material. If students cannot afford to buy certain texts, they have just as little access to them as they would if the texts were banned entirely. This is why the Affordable Materials Project (AMP) collaborates with Falvey Library to assure all students have access to much needed educational materials. This project has saved students over $1 million since 2018, so if you’re a student at Villanova who has not heard of AMP, I would highly recommend looking into it here.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

To conclude, here are a few famous books that have been banned at some point in history:

"Brave New World"

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou is one of the most banned writers in the United States. Since she published this autobiography in 1969, it has been challenged time after time for its depictions of racism and sexuality. Other works by Angelou have also been banned, such as her poetry collection, Still I Rise.

Brave New World

This classic dystopian novel by Aldous Huxley has been repeatedly banned for what some interpret as the glorification of sex and drugs. The 1932 work of fiction takes place in a futuristic society and warns of the dangers of industrialism and commodity culture.

"Go Tell It on the Mountain"

“Go Tell It on the Mountain” by James Baldwin

Go Tell It on the Mountain

This 1952 novel by James Baldwin was also banned for portrayals of race and sexuality. The text documents the life of John Grimes, a teenager growing up in Harlem. Much of this story is based on the life of James Baldwin himself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Last Modified: September 29, 2021