It’s only seven o’clock in the morning but already our village of 2,000, give or take a new baby or two, is on the move. It’s parade day. Gotta get an early start.
There are plants to water, porches to be swept, and rockers to be positioned just right for parade watching.
Next door, my neighbors are brushing a second coat of paint on the porch of their 100-year-old (and then some) Victorian home.
A couple of houses down, the young folks who bought the widow Albertson’s home after she died, look like they’re just about to finish up the new roof. I heard them out nailing before I got up.
Sharon and I have been checking out their progress on our evening walks and since the weather has allowed, doors have been thrown open wide, making it easy for nosy folks like us to sneak a peek inside. It’s going to be nice. Real homey. And they have young children. The lady spots us looking and waves. We wave back and Sharon hollers a “welcome to town” through the open front door.
Eric, a former student, just loafed by in the village’s 1928 American LaFrance fire engine, shifting gears and grinning, on his way to the firehouse. He joined the volunteer fire department right after graduation. It’s a family tradition.
Our 1919 Model T, the one that Oppie Krotzer remembers coming to town brand new and being delivered to the depot on a railroad car, is down at Jim Ruggerio’s house getting it’s oil checked and a final fussing over.
I can hear music from uptown vibrating through a tinny sound system, as folks go about some last minute grocery shopping or stop by the bakery for fresh doughnuts. Others will be going into the cafe for biscuits and sausage gravy. I’ve been thinking about it myself.
There’s a carnival in the park, two blocks over. Kids of all ages lined the grassy lawns watching them set up.
Couples I’ve never seen before walk past my house, hand-in-hand, swiveling their heads and pointing out first a bed of just-opened peonies or a particularly inviting-looking front porch. Sometimes I think I can read their minds. “Gee, I’d like to live there.”
Last night, a camper turned down Patterson Street, probably headed for the family’s back yard. Somebody’s kids coming home for the festivities. Later I’ll see them uptown laughing and slapping old friends on the back. They’ll be reminiscing about the last time they saw each other. Maybe at a class reunion, a graduation, or a wedding.
It’s Gibsonburg’s Homecoming Week. It happens every summer.
Charlie, the undertaker from across the street, has the deepest, smoothest voice in town (all those years of condolence) so he’s the master of ceremonies at the nightly festivities. As I lie in my backporch hammock I can hear him urging folks to visit the bingo tent, or get a ticket for the cakewalk.
There’s live entertainment. One night, a country band. Another night, a “Big Band” from a nearby town. Folks will be dancing in the street.
Pretty soon, the Shriners with their Jeepsters and motor scooters will start to show up. They’re real crowd pleasers. They’ll have coffee and a sandwich uptown before lining up at the parade’s starting point.
There’ll be horses and tractors and fire engines from all the neighboring villages. And a float for the homecoming queen.
Two little boys are eying my brick wall out front as a possible parade-watching spot but probably wondering how to reserve a seat. The shorter one sees me on the porch. “Can we sit on your wall, lady?” Sure. They wander off around the corner.
Five minutes later, they’re back. The little guy who asked permission holds up a piece of chalk and asks if it’s all right for them to write their names on a piece of the wall.
Sure. I’m impressed with their ingenuity.
In a little while, friends will begin to wander onto the porch. We’ll talk a minute about the gorgeous weather. Brilliant blue sky, 72 degrees, fresh breeze. Perfect for a parade. Then we’ll all sit back and wait, just thinking about how lucky we are to be here.
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