“September Saturday”

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Forty years ago tomorrow Ray and I had our first date. Maybe I shouldn’t use that word date in a blog for homeschooling mothers! It would have been nice to have done courtship, but we had a real problem there–we had never heard of it! So, tomorrow we plan to do what we do every year on March 1–celebrate!

March 1 is our “September Saturday.” In Shirley Temple’s 1935 movie Our Little Girl, she and her parents celebrate two special days each year–a “May Saturday” and a “September Saturday.” The threesome packs a picnic lunch and goes to the bank of a pretty creek in the woods, a spot they call Heaven’s Gate.

Shirley’s father is a busy doctor who spends too much time working. His pretty nurse is devoted to his work and is in love with him. At home Shirley’s mother is lonely and slowly falls in love with her husband’s best friend, who has plenty of time for her. Eventually she tells her husband that she is going to marry his friend.

Shirley learns about her mother’s plans and decides to run away on the date of their annual “September Saturday” (I guess that’s why I always remember their September celebration and not the May one). She packs her own picnic lunch and leaves for Heaven’s Gate alone. When her parents learn that she is missing, they both search for her and find her at Heaven’s Gate. There the three become a family again.

Our Little Girl is one of my favorite movies because of the lessons it teaches, but I have a hard time remembering its title. When I googled “Shirley Temple September Saturday” this morning, I came across a New York Times review from 1935. The reviewer calls Shirley Temple’s movies “sentimental syrup” and says that in comparison with her movies, Pollyanna and The Bobbsey Twins are “gutter realism.”

It’s true that Shirley Temple is almost always cast in the role of a little girl who fixes the adults around her–a role that no child should ever have to play in real life. I like Our Little Girl anyway because of three of its messages:

  • Working so much that we neglect our families is dangerous.
  • Spending time alone with members of the opposite sex is dangerous.
  • Fathers, mothers, and their children loving one another and staying together is the right thing to do.

So I will continue to like Our Little Girl and its sentimental syrup and I’ll keep enjoying the movie Pollyanna, too, because I believe the world could use more people who play the “glad game.” Now, as for the Bobbsey Twins, you’ll have to ask Ray about those; he grew up reading one after another. And, as the Lord wills, Ray and I will continue to celebrate our “September Saturday” each March 1.

“What therefore God has joined together,
let no man separate.”
Mark 10:9

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