Monday, July 04, 2011

Parade rest

I'm always surprised at how many people --- several thousand --- turn out for Chariton's annual 4th of July parade. But it's fun to see the square entirely lined by people, as deep into any shade they could find on this warm and sunny afternoon, then stretching the two blocks up along North Main to Sacred Heart Church (where the parade begins).

I ran into Harold and Dianne standing almost in the sun in front of Ben Franklin and staked out a spot next to them. Actually, we had plenty of room because the awning was up and our little stretch of the north side was pretty exposed. Then the new owner came out, lowered the awning and we had the best of both worlds --- shade and a clear view.

I kind of wanted to be in front of Ben Franklin to see if I could take a decent photo of Betty and Gary Pepping, grand marshals, as they rode by the store they had owned and operated for 33 years --- until last week, when they turned over the keys. That turned out fairly well.

Much of the rest of the time I was too busy running my mouth to pay attention to what I should have been photographing --- but that was more fun anyway.

Everybody wants to take a good picture of Old Betsy --- this isn't it. But you can get some idea of the Chariton Fire Department's pride and joy. Those have to be the calmest horses in all creation --- every fire truck in the county and thensome went by in a long and noisy string, all with sirens blaring. Many parade viewers went home months nearer the need for hearing-aids, but the horses didn't seem to mind at all.

This is Russell's vintage fire truck, the oldest of a big fleet of vehicles that allows a small town volunteer department to serve a large fire district. We decided James Noble was driving.

And finally, the tractors. In honor of my father, I waited until all the pesky John Deere's had passed. This is a Minneapolis-Moline. Remember umbrellas? For those who don't, they came before cabs.

It was a nice parade, but all people and vehicles. No floats. Whatever happened to floats? No music, of course --- marching bands march only during the school year these days. And not many politicians either --- it's not an election year. Paul McKinley was there --- but that seemed to be it.


I went out to the museum to put the flag up this morning, then got sidetracked --- for much of the day other than the part I spent uptown watching the parade.

Since I was there anyway, I decided to run over to the Stephens House and see if I could find another flag. We've been rounding our flags up during the last couple of weeks, deciding which ones to display and which ones to retire to secure storage.

There was one last place to look --- a closet in the master bedroom's dressing room stuffed with costumes and boxes that probably hadn't been disturbed in at least 25 years.

The first box I pulled down from the highest shelf contained two more military uniforms (we're working on getting those properly inventoried and stored or displayed, too; I'll come back for these later). The other box up there, a big one that barely fitted through the cupboard door, contained the rest of the Grace Bates collection of artifacts related to India --- quite a find. The hiding place for these items had been a minor mystery for several years. (Several of the Bates items are on display, however.)

The principal problem --- and I don't mean to be a heightist about this --- has been the fact our current and retired curators are, well, short. There are some advantages to being tall enough to actually see what's on the top shelves in dark places.

I pulled out parts of a small collection of dolls that Betty, curator emeritus, had driven herself nuts trying to locate, and took those over to the Lewis Building in the morning --- then had to flee before the advancing Class of 1951.

Went back after the parade and unboxed the rest of the Bates collection (Miss Bates was a Methodist missionary in India during the first half of the 20th century and returned home to Chariton with many souvenirs). Then I set it all out on table and display case tops --- bangles and beads, finger rings and toe rings, Hundu gods and godesses, Tibetian purses, Japanese, Vietnamese and Indian dolls, printed and woven fabrics. On and on.

Now I'll have to face the music tomorrow. There will be those who will feel I should have left it all where I found it until we had more time to deal with it. But I wanted to play with the stuff NOW. And so I did.

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