Back to posting outtakes from MY FATHER’S HOUSE

You do realize, of course, that I wasn’t actually there in 1914, but I had fun researching the possibilities. I think this is about as accurate a picture as I could come up with. I even had fun sitting at lunch with friends imagining what it might have been like.

And I hope I’m not repeating myself here. Anyway, this is it. July 4, 1914

On June 28, only a month after Carl’s graduation from Upsala College, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. At first it raised little alarm in Forestville. This side of the Atlantic seemed so far away from European stress. Carl reminded himself how happy he was to be at such a distance from European wars and rumors of wars.

What seemed really important to him was the celebration of America on Saturday, July 4. 1914. The weather was chilly in Forestville, and rain threatened, but nothing could spoil the brightness of spirits. Emil, Hilda, and Carl set chairs out on the corner of Church and Washington Streets, a perfect spot for watching the Independence Day parade. Paul and Eddie, now enjoying the freedom of ages 12 and 14, joined the ride- by of bicycles whose wheel spokes were strung with red, white, and blue streamers.

By 9:45 a.m. there was a sea of patriotic color, even dogs had special scarves around their necks. Not a house in sight was without a flag hanging, sometimes blowing a little heavily in the damp and mild breeze.  Children darted back and forth despite the efforts of their grown-ups to restrain them while babies in arms squealed, cried, or just wiggled with excitement.

At 10:15, the restless crowd hushed to the distant sound of the Bristol High School band, bringing their performances of “The Liberty Bell March” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” into view as parents beamed with pride and Carl’s eyes teared. Close behind came the flag with its thirteen stripes and forty-eight stars proudly borne by the boy with the highest academic average from Sarah E. Reynolds followed by the representative from Greene Hills School struggling to keep the Connecticut State flag off the ground.

Polite applause greeted the titular mayor of Forestville waving from the passenger seat of a red, white, and blue draped automobile displaying a “C.V. Mason & Company Motors” sign as it turned east onto Washington Street, thence south on Central Street toward the cemetery on Circle Street.

Enthusiastic applause and shouts greeted Miss Liberty and her entourage coming next, wrapped in white sheets and crocheted red, white and blue shawls, the winner and runners up of the essay contest, “Why I want to be Miss Liberty in the Independence Day Parade.” Uncle Sam followed, having won the honor by writing the best seventh grade essay on “Why I want to represent Uncle Sam in the Independence Day Parade.”

At a respectful distance, sitting tall in the saddle, appeared the chief of the volunteer fire department, trying to convince his recalcitrant horse that marching in a parade was an honor to be enjoyed. Following in proud contrast was the newly acquired, enthusiastically cheered steam-driven firetruck. Civil War veterans were next, proud and victorious as they received the cheers and applause of the crowd, followed by the local chapter of the recently created and uniformed members of the Boy Scouts of America.

A few hay wagon floats straggled through, giving Carl a chance to return the chairs to the house and fetch the picnic baskets. He returned in time to see two uniformed members of the Bristol Police Department carrying a large sign. “The End.”


2 responses to “OUTTAKE: FOURTH OF JULY PARADE, 1914

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  1. wonderfully written memory of a completely different time

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