Sept. 7, Monday

Also, celebrate end of summer by cranking up ice cream freezerLabor Day. Moon on equator. Sigmund Freud lectured in Wor-cester, Mass., 1909.Sept. 8, Tuesday - Moon at Perigee. Nativity of Mary. St. Augustine, Fla., founded, 1565.

Sept. 9, Wednesday - The designation "United States" became official, 1776.

Sept. 10, Thursday - First snow in Johannesburg, South Africa in 17 years, 1981. First drunken-driving conviction, 1897, London, England.

Sept. 11, Friday - Nikita Khruschev died, 1971. Lucky day for reapers.

Sept. 12, Saturday - H.L. Mencken born, 1880. JFK married Jackie, 1953.

Sept. 13, Sunday - Roald Dahl born, 1916. Henry Hudson claimed New York harbor area for Holland, 1609.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Can you find that famous quote from H.L. Mencken about Philadelphia?

- O.T., Philadelphia, Pa.

Answer: We can, and then we'll answer your second (as yet unasked) question, too. The quote can only be the one from Henry Louis Mencken's (1880-1956) "The American Language," where he concludes that "Philadelphia is the most pecksniffian of American cities, and thus probably leads the world."

Now for the second question, "pecksniffian" comes from Seth Pecksnuff, a character in Charles Dickens' (1812-1870) novel, "Martin Chuzzlewit."

Pecksniff is sanctimonious and hypocritically benevolent - we'll leave it to you to decide why Mencken saw Philadelphia in that light. Mencken was born and educated in Baltimore and then began a career in journalism there. He also co-edited the Smart Set with George Jean Nathan and together they started American Mercury.

Today, Mencken remains one of the most-quoted writers of his time. He was particularly cutting and cynical on the subjects of love and matrimony. In his "Prejudices," he defined love as "a state of perceptual anesthesia" and another of his definitions was that "Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another." He believed it was "more blessed to give than receive; for example, wedding presents." But he pretended a sympathy for women, saying, "Men have a much better time of it than women; for one thing they marry later; for another thing, they die earlier." Mencken once vowed that "If I ever marry it will be on a sudden impulse, as a man shoots himself."

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: We're celebrating a late-summer family vacation over Labor Day. Any advice?

- D.E., Allentown, Pa.

Answer: If your children are young, spend a lazy day swinging them in a rope hammock and reading aloud from your favorite adventure stories. Go back to the books you cherished as a child, or make up your own tales from bits of family history and folklore. Make up an adventure or tall tale that includes your child as the hero.

Then get out the ancient, hand-cranked ice-cream maker and splurge on some fresh cream and the ripest fruits from the farm stand down the road. Summer is the time for ice cream, as even our earliest presidents have known. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Dolly Madison all made it part of White House festivities.

In 1846, Nancy Johnson patented the hand-cranked ice cream freezer, an innovative time-saver in those days. Jacob Fussel took the process a step further, opening the first commercial ice-cream factory in Baltimore, Md., in 1851. The ice-cream soda came along in 1879, and then the the ice-cream cone was born in 1904, showing up at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Mo.

Ice cream itself probably derives from the flavored "water ices" of 17th-century Italy. English colonists brought the sweet, frozen delicacy to America where early settlers made ice cream in pewter bowls set in ice and salt. Today, Americans lead the world in their consumption of ice cream, with Australia and Canada close behind.

Maybe you'd want to teach your family some of the complex code that soda jerks learned on the job. A banana split, for example, was a 19; a cherry-flavored Coke was 33; 871/2 meant "a pretty girl out front," while a 98 meant the assistant manager (or a pest) was headed your way. If it was a 99, watch out! That was the code for the head manager.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: What can you tell me about the "green flash" that some vacationers, particularly around the Caribbean, claim to see at sunset?

- W.A., Pensacola, Fla.

Answer: If you spend days on end at the shore and regularly enjoy watching the sun set, eventually you may be lucky enough to see the green flash.

This is a bright strip of green light, usually seen right on the horizon if the sky is clear instead of hazy, and occurring just a brief moment after the sun disappears. You are most apt to see it near water or in the mountains. The Egyptian desert is also a prime viewing point. The bent light, traveling through a greater thickness of atmosphere, is effectively filtered so that only the green portion of the spectrum is visible. Flash is to be taken literally, however; blink and you might miss it.


Additional Information

This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac

September 7-13, 1998

Moon at perigee, Sept. 8.

Labor Day

With the Industrial Revolution came working days of up to 16 hours, as capitalism raged. In America, a movement for an 8-hour day caused widespread strikes and violence as early as 1860, and child labor problems became acute after the Civil War. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 marked the beginning of improved labor conditions. The United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico all celebrate the first Monday in September as Labor Day. The tradition began in the United States in 1884, with a day set aside to honor all working people.

In my apron, I carry nails, pliers, a heavy hammer, and price.

Moira Bachman

Tip of the Week

For excercise and a fresh outlook, take a noontime walk during part of your lunch break.

Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Sandwiches

1 small loaf French bread (or foccacia)

6 tablespoons basil pesto (or substitute olive oil)

6 large ripe tomatoes, sliced

salt and papper, to taste

1 pound fresh mozzarella, thickly sliced

fresh basil leaves (about 24)

Slice the French bread on the diagonal, making at least a dozen slices. (If using foccacia, split in half and slice into wedges.) Coat one side of each slice of bread with pesto or olive oil. Layer on the tomato slices, season with salt and pepper, add the mozzarella slices and fresh basil leaves, and top with a second piece of bread.

Makes 6 or more sandwiches.

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

When a cold spell occurs in September and passes without a frost, a frost will not occur until the same time in October.

A wet September, next summer drought.

If your sleep is imperfect and your dreams are of hurrying or are frightful, it may indicate a change in the weather.