Charley McDowell’s Month

A clip of McDowell's annual February column from January 1978.

In his 49 years writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington and Lee alumnus and Lexington native Charley McDowell Jr., Class of 1948, directed some of his harshest criticism at one subject — the month of February. And given the ways things have gone in these snow-covered parts the past two weeks, who could argue with Charley? Two recent columns in the T-D referred to Charley’s February columns. In her Feb. 7 piece, Marsha Mercer recalled that Charley started his anti-February rants in 1967 in his columns from the paper’s Washington bureau. Here’s one of the more memorable passages: “February depresses. It litters the landscape with dirty, clinging snow. It sabotages the automobile battery. It brings man into bitter conflict with his furnace.” And in Sunday’s Times-Dispatch, Tom Silvestri’s column was titled “Wisdom From One Newsman Who Figured Out February.” You need to read Silvestri’s piece here to get a sense of all the ways in which Charley chastised the month. But here are more examples cited in Silvestri’s column:

  • “February has the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in it, but actually everyone in the world gets at least a year older in the course of February.”
  • “There is nothing short about February but the temper of man. February is when the battery quits, the snow shovel breaks on the ice, the glove is lost, the galosh is ripped, the milk freezes, the dessert doesn’t jell, the cat and the paranoid furnace run amok.”

Amen, Charley.



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