The ultimate party planner

by Vivian Lawson Hogue

“It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay.

I have always enjoyed that line by Ms. Millay because April has long been a favorite month until it becomes ruined by the next very warm, then hot months. I have never liked summer, so spring, fall and winter are the most revered seasons for me. Her description almost describes me in the spring, although perhaps without the “idiot” part. However, anyone standing near me in the garden might argue with that as I may seem to be “babbling” as I “talk” to my plants. And I do “strew” flowers, but only by bulb and seed.

I was April-born and the last-born of five siblings, but my birthday was the first one in the year. My mother was eternally making or buying birthday presents as our birthdays were in April, May, June, July and September. August was likely a welcome respite.

However, in time our spouses and children filled any gaps. She never had to consult a calendar as she miraculously had all the dates in her head.

We never had birthday parties beyond gathering together those who were not in the service or in college. There was always a homemade cake, a gift or two, and we were content. At some point after I started first grade, I noticed other kids had birthday parties at home, so I came up with a plan.

I decided to have a party at MY house! My mother would be so pleased because she wouldn’t have to be involved! I invited my five closest school friends and told them, “Party at my house after school! Y’all come!”

After school I ran the four blocks home and announced to my mother that we were having guests. I’ve never forgotten the look in her eyes through her rimless glasses, and I think I saw another gray hair or two spring from her head. It was clear that she must have been really excited, too!

Mother was always a Plan B person. She took off her apron and cleared the kitchen table as little girls and their mothers began to arrive.

Dessert plates, forks and cloth napkins were placed and she brought out a cake she had made earlier in the day, iced and topped with candles.

But the fun wasn’t over after the cake. One of the mothers learned of the impromptu situation and suggested we travel downtown to an Oak Street ice cream parlor for Dutch treat.

As we sat down, the store owner went to the jukebox and put a nickel in and punched a button. From the speakers came the then-popular song, “If I Knew You Were Comin’ I’da Baked a Cake.”

Those interested in birth months and signs of the zodiac say I’m a Taurus.

The “personality traits” rarely match my own. Mine says, “You have the tendency to display high degrees of stubbornness and impatience. Maturity and life experiences usually soften and reduce these negatives.”

I do have both maturity and life experiences, but people close to me remind me that it says “usually,” which means it might not ever happen. However, some positives listed are that I am “not only musical and artistic, but mentally quick!” Well, okay . . . so I’ve always enjoyed music and art.


A native of Conway, Vivian Lawson Hogue graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree in art education. A retired teacher, she worked in the Conway School District for 23 years. She is editor of the Faulkner County Historical Society’s semi-annual publication, “Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings.” She can be reached at [email protected].