Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day, Then and Now

Me and a small flag. Despite the September development, I'm guessing Fourth of July.Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of something that shows what Memorial Day means to you. This can mean something directly related to remembering soldiers and others who have served their country -- but if Memorial Day also means fun, sun, cookouts or other things, you can use that as well.- JS

Y'know, when I was a kid, Memorial Day meant a parade down Fayette St. in Manlius, followed by badminton and a picnic.  That was thirty-five to forty years ago.  Although I have no pictures of the parades, I was astonished tonight to find that I actually have pictures of the badminton net and the picnic table, and even of me on some patriotic holiday in 1970 or 1971.  The one of me was definitely taken by Joel R.  The other black and white ones may be his, too.

I marched in that Memorial Day parade in Manlius a couple of times, first as a Girl Scout, and later carrying a white, non-working, ceremonial wooden rifle in front of the marching band.  The highlight for me as a marcher was at the corner of Seneca and Fayette, where I could usually see a cobblestone and a tiny bit of exposed trolley track from the early 20th Century.

Other years I'd be on the sidewalk with my family, holding a little flag or a newly-purchased pinwheel in one hand, a twist cone from Sno-Top in the other.  We'd cheer on the bands, marvel at the World War I vets in their old cars, and I'd wave at my seventh grade social studies teacher, Mr. Hennigan, as he marched with the volunteer fire department.

Maybe after the parade we'd stop for milk or something at Temple's Dairy Store.  Then we'd go home.  I'd insist on setting up the badminton net, or else (if it was hot enough) we'd grab our swimsuits and head over to Snook's Pond.  Dinner was steak or charred chicken or hot dogs or hamburgers cooked on a cheap grill outside, served at the faded redwood picnic table with Mom's potato salad (with egg, mustard, cucumber and chives) and Mom's fruit salad (mostly melon, with a can of fruit and a banana added at the last minute).

The badminton net.  I can't believe I have a picture of this! The picnic table in Manlius, 1970.

Fast forward to 2005.  I haven't been to Temple's Dairy Store in over a quarter century, nor seen a Memorial Day parade in thirty years. Dad is in Wilmington with Ruth, and I'm sure he didn't grill a steak or burgers.  Steve is in Cleveland, and he probably worked today.  And my mom, being dead, will never make another potato salad or fruit salad.  I'd make them myself, but they're too high in carbs.

For me in 2005, Memorial Day is mostly about having the day off, and spending it with John.  Today we signed up with L.A. Fitness, and then went shopping at Wal-Mart.  It doesn't get much more post-modern American than that.  We spent $100, ninety-four cents at a time.  Well, the gym bag and padlock and sweats cost a bit more, but nothing was over $15.  I also finally found a pair of my Athletic Works Silver Series shoes, under which (unlike my office shoes) I can wear an ankle brace.  (This ankle is NOT healing quickly,  probably because I've been walking on it so much, without any support or protection.)

the new sign at East Lawn
As for the memorial part of Memorial Day, it should surprise no one that for me, that means thinking about my mom.  I've never known anyone who died in battle.  Heck, the only dead veteran I remember is my grandmother.  But Mom's only been dead since late 2002, and on holidays (and other times) I think of her often.

Memorial Day is a big day for cemeteries.  I discovered this two years ago, when I stopped by East Lawn in the early afternoon.  The staff had a tent set up near the entrance, and were handing out little flags for free.  Their rules say that such holiday decorations will be removed a couple of weeks after the holiday, but in the meantime there are flags.  On Mother's Day, they do the same thing with flowers.

Freeflags at East Lawn

Today I was there late in the day, almost at sunset.  The office was closed, and there was no tent set up. Large flags flew above the entrance drive, on poles that will probably be back in storage tomorrow.  There were a fair number of people around, but not as many, I suspect, as earlier in the day.

Sunset at East Lawn   East Lawn celebrates Memorial Day

Mom's grave, and a brush to clean it.My problem with going to the cemetery is that I never know what to do when I get there.  I don't believe that my mom is hanging out at her grave, waiting to hear from me.  It doesn't seem like the right place to talk to her.  Really, no place does seem like the place to talk to her.  What do I say, anyway?  "Hi, Mom.  I graduated from college, and got a good job."  She knows that already.  I don't need to stand above her bones to tell her that.

So instead I make sure the marker is clean and the grass is healthy, and maybe take yet another picture with my ubiquitous digital camera.   Today I take extras, specifically to do this photo shoot thing.  Then John arrives with the car, back from Target, and we drive away.


Visiting the Stone

Time Traveler's Holiday Picnic, Part One

Time Traveler's Holiday Picnic, Part Two


ryanagi said...

OK...I was going to comment that I was in a couple parades too (Brownies and my Baton twirling class) when I saw LA FITNESS?!! O H  M Y  G O D!!  You joined a HEALTH CLUB! You actually joined a place devoted to exercising?!  Wow.  I'm impressed! Good for you!  (Jeeze...if you start putting in regular "workout updates" you are going to guilt me into going back to Curves...)

deveil said...

great entry!  REally great job.


tc01hm said...

Nice depiction of the now and then in words and images.

deabvt said...