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Parade-Shy Cat Bolts in Blur of Flying Fur
I thought that I was done with writing about the past for a while, but I’m not. Various events have caused me to ramble away from my plan to write about the adventures of the son and daughter of one of my acquaintances whom I interviewed last Spring. I always worry that one of these days I’ll dry up and have nothing to write about. Thus, when a new topic strikes my fancy, I hop on it and save the old one.
People seem to enjoy the nostalgia, but I try not to dwell too much on the past. Remembrance is a double-sided coin: Thinking about the good old days brings warm fuzzies, but it can also fill one with melancholy and a tremendous sense of loss and longing for what was and will never be again.
Two events catapulted me back into past time, willy-nilly, in spite of my plan to move on. First, we saw Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at the IRT the other evening. To my mind, the best American play ever written, I’ve seen and read it several times and never tire of it. Even though I thought that this performance was over-acted, nothing can detract from the play's quicksilver charm. On the surface, it seems so simple, clear and easy to understand, and yet it portrays the depths of life and the universality of the human condition. Its message is that once this life is lived, one cannot go back.
Then when I perused last week’s Knightstown Banner I saw pictures of the Fall Festival. As I’ve said before, memory is many layered. When Eric Cox bought the paper Sarah Ward told him that when I was in high school I'd written for Tom Mayhill, the former publisher. Eric called, and I took samples of newsletters that I had sent to clients and friends. He chuckled when he read my account of the Jubilee Days that they had on the town square when I was young, and that became the first column that Eric published.
The pictures carried me back to the 1950's. My sister Christine Jones,brother-in-law, Orville, and their eight children moved into our house at the corner of Franklin and Carey where I grew up, and we moved into the little house behind it. The Jones kids were like my brothers and sisters, and their shenanigans provided much entertainment.
Kids thought that Jubilee Days were big doins’, there being little to do in K-town. There were carnival rides, cotton candy and food booths. At night there was music and dancing . . . "When the lights are down low, grab your girl and then go. Do the hucklebuck, do the hucklebuck. If you don’t know how to do it, then you’re out of luck!" . . . and "Balling the Jack"--"First you put your two arms out in space, then you do the eagle rock with style and grace . . ."
There were contests for which each entrant received a quarter that was promptly invested in food or rides. The Jones kids were always scrounging for money. Even the boys entered the doll contest, hiding tiny dolls in their fists that they flashed as they walked by the judges There was also a pet parade.. First, the kids had to find pets to take. We had a semi-tame, cantankerous cat named Copper. One of the Jones girls couldn’t find a pet to borrow, so she decided to take Copper to the pet parade.
"You’ll be sorry if you try to take that cat down to the Town Square," warned my mother. My niece who was noted for her stubbornness said, "I’m takin’ him!" She fastened Copper to a leash that she’d made from strips of cloth and clasped him tightly in her chest. Mother and I watched her walk up Carey St.
When she reached the corner across from the Averys’ house we saw a flurry of flying legs, and an orange blur flew through the air and disappeared down the alley behind the Fergusons’ house.. "I guess Copper didn’t want to go to the pet parade," Mother said. We guffawed so hard we had to hold each other up. We didn’t see Copper again for three days.
We managed to control ourselves by the time my niece came back a-sqawlin’ and a-bawlin’. Not only had Copper scratched her to a fare-thee-well, he--how can I put this delicately--was also suffering from a digestive ailment. They say that comedy is based on the misfortunes of others, and oh ‘tis true, ‘tis true.
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