Wednesday, 1 September 2004

The Month of September

As a child, I was not particularly fond of September. While the temperatures would cool down in September, it was also a full month of school with the exception of Labour Day. We would not have another break until Columbus Day in October. In my later years in school, we would not have another break until Veteran's Day. And nothing much went on in September. After the Randolph County Old Settler's Fall Fair, there were no events that would interest a child for the rest of a month. As an adult I enjoy September much more than I did as a child. Of course, as a child September struck me as an odd month and it still strikes me as such as an adult. Indeed, in some ways it seems like the beginnng of a whole new year.

Today most schools begin their year in late August, although a few schools do start in early September. My parents told me that at one time this was the norm. The majority of schools started the day after Labour Day. The reason for this was quite simple. Children formed a large part of the labour force on farms, so that they needed to be available for work for nearly the whole summer. Indeed, growing up on a farm I was expected to do my fair share of the work. Anyhow, the shape of the school year was largely a product of the agricultural year.

The television season also begins in September. The networks roll out more new shows than at any time of the year and they debut new episodes of old shows. From what I remember from my broadcasting classes in college, the fall TV season has its roots all the way back to the days of radio. There have been attempts to change the fall TV season. In 1966 ABC tried to introduce what it called "the Second Season" in January. Ultimately all they accomplished was cementing the tradition of mid-season replacements. I believe I have read where Fox is trying to do away with the TV season entirely. From the performance of many of the shows they have debuted of late, it does not look like they are succeeding. As to why radio and then television began their season in the fall, I can't say for sure. I suspect the reason is that in the summer the audience for radio and television would drop off. After all, people would be preoccupied with other things in the summer. Vacations, picnics, fairs, farm work, all of these would take people away from their radios or TVs. It would then seem reasonable to debut new shows and new episodes of old shows in the fall when the audience would once again rise.

The automotive industry also introduces new car models in September. I noticed this as a child and it always puzzled me. I can understand why school starts in September, as children were needed for farm work. I can understand why the TV season starts in September, as the audience would be small in summer. But I have always wondered why new car models are introduced in the fall. After all, it seems to me that new car models could be introduced any time of year. Maybe the auto industry just felt that after a summer of wear and tear on the old jalopy, people would be ready for a new car!

Anyhow, it seems to me that more things begin again in September than they do in January, the official beginning of the year. And while no one welcomes September with the sort of celebrations seen on New Year's Eve, it does seem to me that it is the start of a whole new time. Of course, I rather doubt anyone will ever advocate moving New Year's Day to September 1...

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