Friday, November 13, 2009

Racing For Love, Life, & Freedom?

Keys' Sadie Hawkins Day Race - UK Stoll Field (1951)
Source: 1952 Kentuckian, p. 278

Gals, grab your guys! Sadie Hawkins Day is upon us!

This pseduo-holiday debuted in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip back in November 1937, and quickly caught on, in American pop culture for decades to follow. The story began when Sadie Hawkins, the "ugliest" female residing in the fictional Dogpatch, KY, tried to find her fella. So, her father set up a foot race for umarried girls to chase after the unclaimed bachelors of the town. Two years later, Life magazine reported that a couple hundred college campuses, including the University of Kentucky, picked up on this popular trend.

The tradition carried on for another 40 years or so, with young women chasing down young men; all dressed up in caricature or and stereotypical "hillbilly" outfits. Later, after the "Sally Mae"s caught their "Li'l Abner"s (both characters from the comic), a Sadie Hawkins Day dance typically ensued, where the best Sally Mae and Li'l Abner were chosen.

Though the exact date of Sadie Hawkins Day is often debated, it's generally around mid-November; most often either the Saturday after November 9th (unsure of this basis) or on November 15th (the anniversary of its 1st appearance in Al Capp's comic strip). Either way, it should NEVER be confused with another cited "Sadie Hawkins Day" date - February 29, or Leap Year - when women are "allowed" to propose marriage to men. The true Sadie Hawkins Day was set (though unintentionally) by Al Capp, in 1937, in his fictional little mountain town in KY.

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