Friday, July 04, 2008
Postcards from the parade
The girls are with their daddy for the holiday weekend. I didn’t expect to see them so was quite surprised when Jenn arrived with Sophie and Hannah at my door this morning.
Sophie had her shiny patent-leather shoes on and was beaming with delight. “I’m going to march in the parade, Babci. Will you come and see? I get to give cookies out to the crowd.”
David has been working on a puppetry project for the local art museum and he would be marching with his puppet troupe, letting the flying fish and cranes soar. Sophie would march alongside, doling out goodies to the crowd. She would have a bagful of treats and was taking the whole thing quite seriously. Her first parade gig.
“Did you ever walk in a parade, Babci?” I proudly shared that I actually rode on a float for a Liberty Day parade when I was twelve years old, dressed like Laura Ingalls and playing my accordion. Sophie seemed impressed. Score one for the grandparent generation.
David had to get to the parade route early to assemble his puppets so Jenn agreed to bring the girls a bit later and thought I’d like to tag along. I had actually made a fresh pot of coffee and was kicking back with Maggie Smith (class act) on my DVD. Suddenly, I was throwing on some summer clothes and in the car with daughter and grandkids. Off we went!
The weather was parade perfect; the small-town atmosphere and friendly crowds created an old-fashioned sense of pride and unity. Not a bad way to spend a summer day.
Sophie was dropped off under a large shady tree with her daddy as he worked on his puppets.
Jenn and I and Hannah followed the crowd toward the main parade route. I actually recognized folks which made me feel good now that I’ve been living up here the past two years. Jenn said hello to friends too along the way. As we smiled and waved to familiar faces, I realized that I’m slowly becoming a part of this community.
As parades go, this was quite simple, no big-city razzamatazz. It was a procession of the local heroes – the firemen and EMTs and volunteers who work for environmental causes and the women’s league and chid-care centers. Everyday folk, carrying banners and waving to the crowds. And we clapped and waved back, complete strangers but sharing in the pleasure and privilege of being part of a national holiday.
Hannah got quite excited about the Gingerbread Man riding in a classic Corvette. There was a Patriot balloon (yeah, it is Massachusetts), Sparky the firehouse dog, horses and tractors. The fire trucks were gleaming and caused Hannah to jump and hold her ears every time they sounded their loud horns in greeting.
I loved that a Jane Doe was driving a John Deere and the vintage Model-A brought back family history, stories of my parents’ courting days when my mom’s kid sister rode in the rumble seat.
I kept snapping photos and changed some of these pictures into antique shades just because they make me think of the past. Funny and wonderful to think that 25, 50, 75 years ago, people across the country were walking in parades just like this, letting freedom ring.
David and his puppet troupe came up the road toward the end of the parade, Sophie meticulously handing out (not throwing) her fortune cookies and candies. Daddy got to play and daughter got to work the crowd. I swear, that girl could run for president one day.
The parade ended at the end of main street where a Dixieland band was playing and volunteers were serving hot dogs and chocolate cake. By now, Hannah was wilting and so was Jenn. David helped us and carried Hannah some of the way back on his shoulders. I watched as he and Jenn walked and talked about the parade and the popularity of his puppets. Sophie and I were holding hands and walking in back of them. We seemed just like any other family in the crowd.
The heartache and stress and major changes which are taking place were lifted up to the bright, blue sky as we all walked together and talked about the parade. At least, in my mind and heart, that’s how it felt. For a few short hours, we were a family. Again.
Celebrating each other and the Fourth of July.