I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’ve got another Monday day off coming up. It’s President’s Day, one of those Federal holidays when mattresses go on sale and banks are closed, but people still have to go to school. If you think about it, with Fat Tuesday being the day after that you might as well make it a four-day weekend seeing that you’re supposed to give up stuff for Lent.

Regardless of the first day of the Great Fasting, Wednesday is also the birthdate of George Washington, who as a boy chopped down his father’s cherry tree and then said, “I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet.” Now, I don’t know if Washington ever told a lie, but the story of the cherry tree is a lie. Well, maybe not an outright lie, but at best, an inspirational fabrication made up by one Parson Weems a good year after Washington passed. I’m wondering if young George was anything like other kids, he probably would’ve said, “It wasn’t me. Tommy Jefferson did it.”

Something else they taught us in school in the 1950s was that Washington’s dentures were made of wood. Wrong again. They were hippopotamus teeth filed down to fit his mouth (that’s one for Jeopardy).

At any rate, the Father of Our Country comes in as number two in the latest ranking of presidents as deemed by a panel of presidential scholars. Number one on the list is the Great Emancipator. Washington is followed by number three with FDR, then Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower at five. Rounding out the top ten are Truman, Jefferson, Kennedy, Reagan and Obama.

Speaking of the above-mentioned cherry tree, other whoppers being taught back then were that Ben Franklin flew a kite with a key in a thunderstorm and discovered electricity, Isaac Newton discovered gravity by getting conked on the head with an apple, and Paul Revere rode through the countryside yelling “the British are coming!” regardless of the fact we were all still British then.

I also grew up thinking diamonds came from compressed coal (thank you, Superman). And those Popular Science magazine covers of whiz-bang inventions and flying cars had me believing the future would be wondrous, and we’d all be wearing spandex and carrying around personal communication devices. Oh, wait. I guess this is that future.

This modern society, however, has introduced us to some unlikely definitions, like describing a cell phone or an automobile as “sexy”. What? Huh? I’m confused.

I presume this has to do with the predilection we have for the shiny and glamorous entertainment world and the notion that people or things have to be seen as sexy to be relevant. It wasn’t always that way, and I was wondering what people did for entertainment back when Socorro and Magdalena were growing, say in the 1800s. And did people say things like, “Hey, that new horse trough is pretty sexy.” Eww.

Other than the occasional Saturday night barn dance, I guess they would’ve had to make their own music at home, sitting around with neighbors plucking a banjo. But what were their versions of movie stars and glamorous celebrities? I mean, before the Academy Awards and movie theaters.

Oh, right. There were the traveling hoochie-coochie shows and, heaven forbid, those whispered houses of ill-repute, the “gentlemen’s clubs.” The late Tom Kelly once pointed out to me where those dens of iniquity used to be in Magdalena. Not that he knew what was behind those red doors, of course.

Tom was a longtime cattleman who could spin a yarn almost as good as he was at chasing down a calf in some draw in Water Canyon. Least-wise, that’s what I’ve heard. Anyway, I never had reason to think he made stuff up. He, like other old-timers in New Mexico, lived it.

“Now the old-timer is gone,” Tom once wrote about the changing times. “We have gotten educated smart, and everything is modern. The horses are not as mean as they used to be. The cows are not as wild as they were. It rains about half as much as it used to and never snows much. You’re lucky if you have any grass.

“There are still a lot of horses ridden and cows chased by the modern cowboy,” Tom said. “But most of it is done, sitting on a barstool or drinking coffee in the cafe.”

At the Magdalena Café for morning coffee is where I usually ran into Mr. Kelly, always amiable and always dressed in a clean white shirt, thin enough to betray the outline of a round tin of Copenhagen showing through the breast pocket.

For Tom’s sake, I sure hope they have a good supply in heaven.