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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

So, Columbo, have you ever been to western Kansas?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monday was a holiday. Sort of. For some. But not everyone.

It was Columbus Day. I take that back. It was not Columbus Day. It was the Monday on which Columbus Day was observed this year. Columbus Day is today. Except for everyone who went to the wild Columbus Day parties last Monday. Were you invited?

If you were a Monday observer of Columbus Day, you didn't get mail. Banks were closed. The bond markets were closed too, but stock markets were open. Cape Girardeau's trash collections were made on the regular schedule, even though many residents -- Monday holiday fans -- waited until Tuesday to put their trash containers by the curb.

Lots of holidays in the U.S. are observed on Mondays, even though the actual holidays are some other time. This is to allow for three-day weekends.

Here's a thought: Why not make every Monday a holiday?

That would take care of the Postal Service, which wants to drop a day of delivery to reduce costs.

There are lots of things we could do without every Monday.

If we can't turn every Monday into a holiday, can we at least get rid of Columbus Day?

Think about it. Christopher's reputation has taken a beating over the years. Everyone knows St. Brendan from Ireland discovered the North American continent, although he wrote in his journal this simple entry: "I'm lost. Really, really lost."

Or Eric the Red or one of those Scandinavian guys was the first European to stumble on the East Coast.

By the way, Columbus never made it to North America. He stayed in the Caribbean, sipping rum-and-cocoanut beverages, loaded up on coffee and tomatoes and headed for home. "See you later," he told the crew members he left on an island because there wasn't enough room on the boat for them and the coffee. "See if you can find this Florida place everyone keeps jabbering about."

The plain truth is Columbus didn't know squat about America, so he couldn't have discovered it. Any discoverer worth his salt would have known a few simple facts about what he discovered.

Like crossing Kansas on I-70. Would any sane explorer go back to his royal patrons and boast he had discovered a place so vast and so empty that you would go mad listening to the unceasing wind shriek through your sod house?

Can't you just hear Columbus telling Isabella and Ferdinand, "If you're looking for a quiet getaway, let me suggest Kansas. You can see for miles and miles."

"What might we see," Isabella might ask.

"Nothing. Doesn't that sound like fun?"

Of course, Columbus was smart enough not to mention Kansas to their royal highnesses. He couldn't, since he had never set foot in Florida, much less Alabama or Kentucky.

I'll say this once, and then I won't make a big deal out of it: Columbus was a fraud. And for this he gets his own holiday?

No wonder we can't decide when to celebrate Columbus Day. And those of you planning on whooping it up on both Monday and today should be ashamed of yourselves. Don't you have jobs?

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

R. Joe Sullivan
R. Joe Sullivan