Sadie Hawkins, whose name today evokes a quaint tradition of teenage girls asking boys for dates, was herself a woman of 35 in the comic strip Li'l Abner in 1937.
Al Capp, the creator, spun this story for Sadie in the month of November, 1937: Her father, Hekzebiah Hawkins, could not fathom Sadie living at home forever. Out of sheer desperation, he gathered all of the unmarried men in the Arkansas hill town of Dogpatch to get the word out that he had created a "Sadie Hawkins Day" in order to find his Sadie a husbin.
Sadie was considered a spinster. An old maid. A real sad apple. OK, she was the homeliest woman in her neck of the hills. Or, perhaps like tryin' to nail jelly to a tree, that darn hill where she lived made it hard for any gentleman caller to get to her. Everyone in Dogpatch deserved to be loved, even Sadie Hawkins.
Sadie's father gathered all of Dogpatch's bachelors together and 'splained how he planned to marry off his daughter: there would be a race -- of a sort. In other words, he told the men, if Sadie catches one of yous and drags you across that thar finish line up yonder by sundown -- even if she got to kick, punch or a-scream -- by law, yous have to become her husbin:
"When ah fires [my gun], all o' yo' kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin--after givin' yo' a fair start--Sadie starts a runnin'. Th' one she ketches'll be her husbin."
I, a 21st-century, single woman in the 50s demographic, would be considered a spinster if I believed in putting labels on people. Which I do not. Labels are for clothes. Old Maid? Please, been there, done that; it was a card game I played years ago as a child.
Oh, I can just imagine how my dad -- age 83, witty, funny, creative and full of wisdom -- would go about finding me a "husbin" on "Sadie Hawkins Day." Not that I am looking fer one, but just supposin' I was...
Unlike Sadie's father, mine still holds a glimmer of hope of seeing me walk down the aisle one day... I think. My dad could express his sheer desperation to the world on Facebook, except fortunately, he knows nothing about social media. He'd have to resort to xeroxing flyers with my photo and using "buzz words" he'd consider to be alluring, such as: sweet, smart, healthy, kind and thoughtful.
I could see my dad sneaking in a few extra words in smaller print, like "desperate." Or he might offer a financial incentive to drum up interest from the mature eligible bachelors in our town of Havre de Grace, Maryland, population: 10,000. He could hand out flyers while on his daily morning walk.
My race will not take place in Los Angeles, where I live. (My dad has never flown in his life and will tell anyone who asks, "If God meant for us to fly, he would had given us wings.") That means I will have to fly to Maryland in hope of finding a "husbin."
Meeting place: Tydings Park. My sweet mother will register entrants by checking their AARP cards -- no young'ins allowed. Hmm... I wonder if my mom will be able to spot a fake AARP card.
My dad will inform all the eligible bachelors, just like Hekzebiah Hawkins, about the foot race and that I have to drag one of 'em across the finish line by sundown -- and I am allowed to kick, a-scream, and even claw (once I remove my fake nails). And by law you have to marry me. Hee Haw!
Because we are not as young as Sadie and the unmarried men of Dogpatch, if the sun is due to set at 5 p.m., we will need to start about 1 p.m. sharp.
My dad will need a starting gun. And then he will say, verbatim, what Hekzebiah Hawkins said back in 1937:
"When ah fires [my gun], all o' yo' kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin--after givin' yo' a fair start -- [Diedre] starts a runnin'. Th' one she ketches'll be her husbin."
Sadie was successful, by the way. And all the spinsters of Dogpatch found the race so useful that Sadie Hawkins Day became a mandatory yearly event, much to the chagrin of all of the local bachelors.
Oh, and lil'o me? ...Well, not to disappoint my dad, of course, and not that I am looking fer a "husbin" to put a rang on it, but just supposin' I was... I will be in hot pursuit like Sadie.
Happy Sadie Hawkins Day!