After independent writing and snacks, Shelly read from I Love Chocolate by Davide Cali. It was a half-day of school with parent conferences in the afternoon. I was amazed to watch these young writers eagerly go to their writer’s notebook after the read aloud to write. Many of them were writing about Easter and baskets filled with all kinds of chocolate, some chose to write about a favorite candy, and one student actually wrote about why he didn’t like chocolate. Shelly and I wrote, too.
I knew my topic – my love of chocolate-covered cherries! When I was in elementary school, we celebrated George Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday; Presidents’ Day did not exist. I can’t remember if we had a holiday for one of those birthdays or not, but I vaguely remember we had a holiday for George because we made a special trip to the bakery on Wadsworth Avenue on that day.
Now this particular bakery had a glorious selection of chocolate-covered cherries and even small and medium-sized chocolate hatchets. Of course, everyone knew the story about George Washington and the cherry tree. “I cannot tell a lie,” George solemnly told his father. It was a hard story for me to buy into, because if I had chopped down a tree on our property (or any other property, for that matter), I would have been facing a serious loss of privileges and a lot of time alone in my room. Anyway, I don’t know how the cherry tree story got started, but it had taken root across America and passed on from one generation to the next.
I do remember how disappointed I was when I discovered this story wasn’t true. Enter author Frank Murphy. He had researched a perfect story about George Washington and based his Step Into Reading Book about this research. At the end of George Washington and the General’s Dog, we find out that Washington had actually written a letter to General Howe (in the Smithsonian today) after Howe’s dog had wandered into Washington’s camp. Washington was a great animal lover, and when he discovered what had happened, he called a truce to return Howe’s dog to him. Now here is the story that America’s children should hear about our first president.
I still love chocolate-covered cherries. They are my favorite kind of candy in a candy box. But now, I mostly eat them on Valentine’s Day if my husband buys me a small box. They always remind me of George!