For many of us, the start of a new year means time to get going on your goals, start moving forward, stop kicking those cans down the road.
But then again, maybe it’s better to hold off a little.
That was the attitude of the Procrastinators’ Club of America, a real organization that for decades promoted the benefits of putting things off.
The group was founded in 1956 by Les Waas, who wrote advertising jingles during the day but loved to play practical jokes at all times.
That year he convinced a hotel in Philadelphia to put up a sign that read, “The procrastination club’s meeting has been postponed.”
This got so much attention that Waas actually formed the club, though he only served as its acting president because the nominating committee was in no rush.
And thus began decades of pranks and stunts all based around the irony of a group of people gathering and working together to not do things, or at least not do them very quickly.
The club once took a trip to the New York World’s Fair long after it had closed.
They protested the War of 1812 in the 1970s.
And they issued predictions about each new year, only in true Procrastinators’ Club fashion, they sent those premonitions out after the year was over.
(At least their predictions were always right.)
In 1976, during the American Bicentennial, the procrastinators traveled to the UK and visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, to complain that the Liberty Bell had a crack in it.
The foundry said they would provide a replacement if the original bell were returned in its original packaging.
The club was best known for its jokes, but Waas said in a way they were making a serious statement, too, that sometimes if we wait and see how a situation plays out instead of rushing, it works out better for everyone.
Waas stuck to that philosophy for the rest of his life, and beyond.
At his funeral in 2016, his family played a message he’d recorded for the occasion in which he listed some of the things he was not going to worry about any more, including funerals.
“I can tell you this,” he said. “This is the last one I’m going to go to.”
Today in 1895, Jeannette Picard was born.
In October 1934, she piloted a balloon that took off from Dearborn, Michigan.
She got 57,579 feet high, making her the first woman to reach the stratosphere.
The other passengers were her husband and their pet turtle.
The art of keeping up with yesterday (The Globe and Mail)
Jeannette Ridlon Piccard (New Mexico Museum of Space History)