Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial of Peace

There is a long history of commemorating Memorial Day in my family, on my mother's side, at least. Not in the sense that we celebrate it these days in the US, as the holiday weekend that bookends the beginning of the summer season, as Labor Day bookends the ending of that season. More in the old sense of Memorial Day from when it was called Decoration Day.

My mother used to tell us stories about how Grandpa B, who was a wonderful gardner, would get up early on May 30, the morning of Memorial Day, to gather flowers from his yard, long strands of honeysuckle from the large hedge along the side yard and roses from his many bushes and climbers, and fill the large trunk of his 50's era car.

Grandmother would pack a lunch and the whole family, the grandparents and my mom and her three brothers, would drive out to the Sinking Creek cemetery, where many members of the family were buried, to decorate the graves. First the honeysuckle vines were laid out across the length of the grave, then roses were distributed on top of this field of yellow, white and green. Once each of the family graves got this adornment, the family would sit on a blanket at the edge of the graveyard to have a quiet picnic near their dear departed. My cousin Bill still tells a similar story as related by his father, Uncle Bill, to him.

Flash forward to yesterday in my little Burg here in California where the Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with the Future Farmers Fair and Twilight Parade. This year was the 61st year that this event has been held.

I've lived in this town 25 years. When my kids were little, it was a big event for them. They loved the fair and the fact that it all happened in our neighborhood -- the parade went by one block away and the fair grounds were one block in the other direction. They liked to go down to the fair grounds to see the animals -- pigs, sheep, goats, cows, rabbits and chickens raised by the kids in 4H that are shown and then auctioned. (We avoided pointing out to my soft-hearted daughter that these animals were meant for slaughter.)

There's a"midway" at the little fair grounds at Rec Park where the local service organizations sell hot dogs and hamburgers, drinks, cotton candy and such as fund raisers. They have activities for kids, I remember an "ugliest pet contest" back in the day, and even now the schedule includes "a pet parade, diaper derby, egg toss, sack race and bubble gum blowing contest". They have a DJ in the evening to try to capture the interest of the teens.

I love the fact that, even though this town has had an influx of outlanders who are coming from a decidedly un-4H kind of place, the Future Farmers Fair and parade still happens faithfully every year, rain or shine.

Since my "kids" have flown the coop, my participation consists of marching as an "irregular" member of the local Peace Project -- a group of folks who, among other things, have stood in vigil against the war in Iraq on the plaza in the center of town every Thursday night since that war began.

This year I convinced my neighbor, Miss C here on the right, to join me.

We always have the best band in the parade, which makes the time fly. This was the second year that we had the pleasure of the company of the Hubbub Club marching band. They are snappy dressers as well as good musicians.

This mother and daughter duo on horseback were marching just in front of us, so we had to be on our toes watching out for horse pucks.

I like to think of it as carrying on the family tradition in a different sort of peaceful way.

Hope you have a good weekend with friends and/or family, however you choose to memorialize.



Ms. Moon said...

Wow. What a beautiful tradition! Take my heart in your pocket this year, okay? You have it.

Kathleen Scott said...

What a great tradition! I've always loved parades, more-so the homegrown affairs. I used to join in the King Mango Strut parade in Coconut Grove (which was then the artsy, oddball section of Miami). I'd take a cup, line up behind the pickup carrying the piano and giant cooler of margaritas and drink ever looser down to Biscayne Bay.

Nothing is more fun than being part of life.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing some family history. I realize I haven't heard many of these stories. Great parade pictures. We don't have one here. Hope all is well,

N2 said...

Ms Moon - It was such a good feeling to have your heart along with me for this memorial. Thanks, Dear.

Kathleen- I can imagine that you were a great addition to the King Mango Strut parade. You are welcome to join me as a Peace Project irregular any year.

Sue - Yes, many more family stories for all of us to share, I am sure. It was great to hear some of the Boston details from Peggy Jo when she was here.

Sending hugs and kisses to You All, Ladies. x0 N2

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