Welcome to June, the month named after Ward’s wife and Wally’s and Beaver’s mother. If you thought the sixth month in the Gregorian and Julian calendars was named for Juno, goddess of childbirth and guardian angel of women, well, think again. Trust me: June is named for June Cleaver, goddess of nostalgia!
Lots of important events take place in Mrs. Cleaver’s month: D-Day, the heroic invasion of Normandy, is memorialized on June 6. June 14 is Flag Day. Juneteenth, the oldest national celebrated commemoration of the abolishment of slavery, is celebrated on June 19, the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the Civil war was over and all slaves were free. That this startling announcement arrived in Texas nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation is a painful reminder of the lingering stain of slavery on our national soul.
Fathers Day is another June celebration; this year it falls on June 20. My own father passed away many years ago and I think of him often—on Fathers Day and many other days, too. These days, I take great pride in my own son’s good fatherhood, bless his soul.
Hidden among these more significant June days are a host of other celebrations: National Flip a Coin Day (June 1); National Bubba Day (June 2); National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (June 7); Donald Duck Day and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (both on June 9); National Monkey Around Day (June 14th) comes just a day before National Prune Day (June 15); in an odd juxtaposition, both National Picnic Day and National Panic Day fall on June 18 this year; I could go on: National Kissing Day is June 19, National Selfie Day is June 21, National Catfish Day is June 25, but by now, you get the point. All these National Days! No wonder Congress is too busy to address that nasty, little insurrection at the Capitol six months ago!
But back to Mrs. Cleaver. The world was so much simpler back in those halcyon days. We were lulled into believing that an inquisitive and somewhat naïve boy, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, could actually formulate so many of life’s imponderable questions. The show, “Leave It to Beaver,” first aired in 1957 and ran for the next five-plus years. It introduced America to an entire lexicon of kid slang: “gyp” meant “to swindle,” “mess around” meant what it meant, a “beef” was a disagreement, and “flake off” or “pipe down” was how Wally told his “goofy” little brother to get lost. But perhaps the most used phrase, “Gee, Beave,” became America’s new punchline. I still use it today to imply wonder.
Among its many firsts, “Leave It To Beaver” was the first television show to display a toilet tank. Let that sink in, so to speak. And because June was such a clean freak—tidiness was one of her hallmarks—how many housewives of the day were enjoined into keeping a neat home and having dinner ready when their poor, tired husbands walked in the front door after a long, hard day at the office. Small wonder that in one episode, Beaver muses that one day he will marry a mother and live happily ever after.
So now you know the history of this new month, thirty days of good, clean fun. The last episode of “Leave It To Beaver” aired on June 20, 1963, just a few months before President Kennedy…; no, not going to go there. Let me stay with the Goddess of Nostalgia a little while longer.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown, MD. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine.
Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.