Saturday, June 6, 2009

I miss June in a small town.

I rolled out of bed this morning to meet a friend for a walk. As I started up the hill to our meeting spot, I heard sounds from down the street. I paused to listen for the source, and identified it as voices coming from the canyon. For some reason, I was disappointed that it was only voices.

I grew up in a small town. I don't mean a smallish suburb of a city, I mean an actual small town. I lived in a rural area--cows in the pasture--a traditionally quaint town. We had no traffic lights, and very few (if any?) 4-way stops. You had your choice of Duane's or Pioneer Market for groceries. The kids all cruised Main on the weekends...

Many small towns have charming or unique traditions. For some it's the dedication of the football fans. Others revel in basketball season. There are even communities committed to preserving the past through reenactments of historical events... I guess it takes all kinds, and that's what makes a small town something special.

Holidays are a unique experience in a small town. For my hometown, The Fourth of July was always an exceptional experience. In fact, people who had long moved on would return for the festivities of the Fourth. The preparations began well in advance of the seventh calendar month. And June marked the beginning of the parade preparations.

Our Fourth of July Parade has always been an impressive spectacle. Anyone who is (or has ever been) a member of a local athletic team, a member of a club, an elected official, a volunteer firefighter, a religious representative, or who has attended the local high school, has a favorable chance of participating in the parade. I remember performing with a marching group at the beginning of the parade, and then changing clothes so I could ride on a float in the later half of the parade. In fact, there were years when I pondered the possibility that everyone would be in the parade, and there would be no one left to watch the parade.

I remember rolling out of bed on chilly, June mornings to meet at the school. The Drill Team was practicing their parade routine. The Cheerleaders were practicing their chants and planning their float. And the Marching Band was practicing their marching and their music. The early hours of those June morning were often filled with strains of music from the offending sources. We used to laugh at the blunders of the tuba players. It wasn't something they could hide--they practiced while marching together all around town! I recall the year that Axel F (from Beverly Hills Cop) was the Sealgae's musical choice. Those poor people who lived along the blocks surrounding the school! I still feel sorry for them.

But those were the sounds I half expected to hear this morning. I even had time to calculate that it was that time of year... I realized that I actually hoped to hear a refrain from the marching band. But then I remembered my location. I'll miss the extravaganza that is the Fourth of July in Fillmore, Utah. I'll miss the dunking tank... The pancake breakfast at the Legion Hall... The dance... The games in the park... The talent show... The patriotic performers... The Navajo tacos... The greased pig race... I'll miss it all. Or maybe I won't, maybe I'll just have to make the drive and enjoy my hometown holiday! But until then, I'll certainly miss the preparations.


Olivia said...

Very well written! I grew up in a town just like that, only in Idaho. I love those small town celebrations. And I love that everyone has something to do. It's definitely a community event. You can't get away with just watching.

honeypiehorse said...

It sounds really fun, esp. for a kid growing up.

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