Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All about Leap Year


Thirty days hath September
April, June, and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Excepting February which stands alone.
It has twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

In the Gregorian calendar, February 29th is referred to as a "leap day."  Leap days occur in years that are evenly divisible by four such as 1968, 1972, 1976 etc.  The only exception happens in years that are divisible by 100.  They do not have a leap day.  Years that are divisible by 400, however, do have a leap day.  For example, the year 1900 did not contain a leap day because 1900 is divisible by 100.  The year 2000, on the other hand, did have a leap day because 2000 is divisible by 400. 

So why do we add an extra day to February every four year?  Why is it necessary?  It is done to make the calendar year as close as possible to the solar year.  Otherwise, the calendar year would fall behind the solar year.


Pope Paul III was born Alessandro Farnese in Rome or Canino, Italy on February 29, 1468.  Elected pope in 1534, Paul III was the first pope of the Catholic Counter Reformation and it was he who inaugurated the Council of Trent On December 13, 1547.  It was also he who excommunicated King Henry VIII of England in 1538 because of Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon.  Paul III died in Rome in 1549.

Henri Richard is a retired Canadian hockey player who played 20 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens. Born in Montreal, Quebec on February 29, 1936, Henri is celebrating his 76th birthday today.  A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, he has 11 Stanley Cup rings to his credit, more than any other player in the history of the National Hockey League.  He also scored over 1,000 points in over 1,000 games.  Henri was nicknamed "The Pocket Rocket" because he was younger and smaller than his legendary brother, the late Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. 

Henri never thought he would have the opportunity to play with his brother.  He said, "When my brother Maurice got married and left home, I was six years old.  I never thought I would play with him.  I not only got to play with my brother Maurice, which was quite a thrill, but I played with him for five years."

By the way, Henri Richard wore my favourite number on his sweater, Number 16.

James Francis "Jimmy" Dorsey, a prominent American musician of the big band era, was born on February 29, 1904 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.  Dorsey was a talented clarinetist, saxophonist, composer and band leader.  Nicknamed J.D., he is known as the composer of "I'm Glad There is You" and "It's the Dreamer in Me."

In the 1930s, Jimmy formed an orchestra with his younger brother, Tommy Dorsey, a trombonist.  The Dorseys had a falling out in 1935 after which they led separate orchestras.  Despite their feud, the brothers appeared together in a 1947 film called The Fabulous Dorseys.  Jimmy reunited with Tommy's band in 1953 and in the summer of 1954 the siblings launched their own television series called Stage Show. 

Stage Show, originally a summer replacement, returned on a occasional basis during the 1954-1955 season.  By the 1955-1956 season, the show was running once a week.  Beginning in January of 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the Dorseys' program for six consecutive weeks, marking Presley's first national broadcast television appearances.

On November 26, 1956, 51-year-old Tommy Dorsey accidentally choked to death in his sleep.  After having eaten a heavy dinner at his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, Tommy sedated himself with sleeping pills before going to bed.

In the aftermath of his brother's unexpected death, Jimmy briefly took over the leadership of the orchestra until his health failed.  Jimmy Dorsey died of lung cancer on June 12, 1957 in New York City at the age of 53.

Pepper Martin was an American baseball player.  He was born Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin in Temple, Oklahoma on February 29, 1904.  Martin entered the big leagues in 1928 at the age of 24 with the St. Louis Cardinals.  A third baseman and outfielder, he was a member of the famed "Gashouse Gang," the St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930s.  During the 1931 World Series, Pepper Martin batted .500 and stole five bases in the Cardinals' victory over the Philadelphia Athletics (He has a career World Series batting average of .418).

Martin was lightning fast on the basepaths.  During the '31 series, he was asked why he was such a speedy runner and he answered, "I grew up in Oklahoma, and once you start runnin' out there, there ain't nothin' to stop you."  A flamboyant player, author Lee Allen described Pepper Martin with the following words in The National League Story:  "A chunky, unshaven hobo who ran the bases like a beserk locomotive, slept in the raw, and swore at pitchers in his sleep."

Pepper spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals and played his final game on October 1, 1944.  He died in McAlester, Oklahoma on March 5, 1965 at the age of 61.  By the way, Pepper Martin has a second nickname.  He was also known as "The Wild Horse of Osage."  Osage County is a county in the northern part of the state of Oklahoma.

Dinah Shore, an American singer, actress, and television personality was born February 29, 1916 in Winchester, Tennessee.  Her birth name was Frances Rose "Fanny" Shore and her parents. Solomon and Anna Stein Shore were Jewish immigrants from Russia.  Solomon Shore, was a dry goods merchant who later opened a department store.  The couple had another child named Bessie who was the older sibling.

After a childhood bout with polio, young Fanny Rose was left with a deformed foot and a limp.  A shy girl, she enjoyed singing and Anna, an aspiring opera singer, encouraged her.  Anna, however, died of a sudden heart attack when Fanny was only 16.  She never saw her daughter's success.

Fanny attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she graduated in 1938 with a degree in sociology.  While in Nashville, she visited the Grand Ole Opry and sang on a radio station.  After her graduation from Vanderbilt,  she left Tennessee for New York City where she began recording with bandleader Xavier Cugart on radio station WNCW.  The young singer later changed her name to "Dinah" after her success with a song of that title.  A disc jockey, unable to remember her name called her "the Dinah girl" and the name stuck.  In 1940, she signed a recording contract with RCA.

From 1940 until the late 1950s, Dinah Shore recorded a string of popular hit songs. For six years, from 1951 until 1957, Dinah hosted The Dinah Shore Show, a twice-weekly 15-minute music program on NBC TV.  From 1956 until 1963, Dinah starred in an hour-long television variety show sponsored by Chevrolet.  It was called The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and Dinah sang her sponsor's theme song, "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet."

Dinah Shore was married twice and divorced twice.  On December 5, 1943, she wed actor George Montgomery.  In January of 1948, Dinah gave birth to a daughter, Melissa Ann.  The couple later adopted a son, John "Jody" David Montgomery.  They were divorced on May 9, 1963.  On May 26, 1963, Dinah married tennis player Maurice F. Smith.  Her second marriage was short-lived and she and Smith divorced in 1964.

During the 1970s, Dinah hosted two talk shows.  She also had a much-publicized romance with actor Burt Reynolds.  Their relationship attracted a great deal of attention because Dinah was 20 years Burt's senior.  Dinah Shore died of ovarian cancer on February 24, 1994 in Beverly Hills, California.  She was 77 years old at the time of her death.


* Here's something else that's noteworthy about Leap Day.  There is a tradition that "allows" women to propose marriage on February 29th.

* My husband was born on February 29th so he only gets a "real birthday" every four years.

- Joanne