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October Day

Tensions ran high round this time of year when I was a student at Rockford College in Rockford, Ill. Not because of midterms. Not because of  pop quizzes (Dr. Ross and those blue books!). The question on everyone’s mind was, When is the dean going to call October Day?!

October Day was a Rockford College tradition borrowed from Mount Holyoke College. Every year in October, the dean of students would choose a lovely day on which to call off classes. The students were encouraged to go out and enjoy the day, and autumn days in the Midwest are wonderful, not to be missed by sitting in a classroom or lab: colorful leaves, nice weather, sunny skies – October Day was a last good gasp before winter settled in. And Midwestern winters can be brutal.

We students would eagerly await the morning when the dean came through the dorms ringing the bell that belonged to the college’s long-ago principal Anna P. Sill and intoning, “October Day! October Day!” Oh, goody! It meant we could roll over in bed and sleep a little longer. It meant one more day to get through Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or Thoreau’s Walden. It meant spending some time outside instead of in the Howard Coleman library. The fun part of October Day was never knowing when it would be called.

 

Speculation ran high each day in October. Students would tell one another, “I heard the dean called the TV stations and told them it would be October Day tomorrow.” Or, “I heard the dean told the cafeteria to get ready to grill out tomorrow, so it’s gonna be October Day.” I bet every student who attended Rockford College when I was there can probably attest to blowing off studying for a test or finishing a project because they were certain the next day would be October Day – only to find it wasn’t.



I think October Day should become a tradition for all of us. Just like in the Midwest, these beautiful autumn days here in Kentucky are a lull before the full blast of winter comes barreling down on us. Don’t give furloughs, bosses! Instead, declare an October Day, and everyone can go to Keeneland!

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