Monday, July 5, 2010

5 July 1956 “Our Town’s 4th of July Parade and Celebrations”

I hope all had a wonderful 4th celebration (you American followers I mean). Our parade was cute at its start. This old 1900 wooden school bus.sandwichparade1
 sandwichparade3  The Soldiers and the cars made one feel it was 1950’ssandwichparade4 sandwichparade5 sandwichparade6 sandwichparade8  sandwichparade7This float was from our local book store, Titcombs. The have  a colonial figure out front of their business on our historic hwy (which I also live on) that is a famous landmark. Here they recreated him for the parade and the truck says, “Join the Reading Revolution” and they were followed by family members/workers dressed in Revolutionary hats. Titcomb’s has its own blog and here is the link to the post about how they were started, rather cute story. HERE it is.
After that, the parade took an odd turn. First off the remainder of the parade appeared to just be modern cars with random business names and then people in the back with high powered water guns and buckets of water. They squirted and squirted. Had they only done so to the youngsters up front who wanted it, fine, but they would spray up the lawn embankments and many had expensive cameras. Myself and Gussie were ‘dressed up’ (dress, petticoat etc per usual) and did not enjoy getting wet. I suppose for the throngs of t-shirt wearing cut off short individuals they didn’t mind. But it continued on like that. Then, on top of that, we had three fire trucks BLARING their sirens and horns. Now, in the old days, when the siren and bell was a darling little clang, I understand, but these sirens and whistles are ear piercing and meant to be heard by modern fast traffic of people blasting their music. At close quarters on a small town street, children were literally plugging their ears, and I joined it. It is rather easy to hurt ones eardrums permanently.
Then to top off the odd parades ending, everyone got up and immediately left with a huge mess and trail of candy half eaten empty wrappers and garbage all over the streets! How much effort to pick up your own garbage and all the children who had been collecting up the candy had no admonitions from any parents, we were appalled to say the least.
We ended the morning by going to our local tea shop for afternoon tea only to be stared at when we left by some out of town tourist all of 17 dressed in shorts TOO short and a bland uninspired Wal-Mart top. I had to laugh to myself when I thought she found US funny, we had nice dresses, ironed, earrings, handbags etc. I am not sure why style is hilarious, but it seemed to be.  But, I digress.
july4thparfait Here are the simple but fun parfaits I made for our gathering. The berries were picked from our local farm and the whipped cream is, of course, homemade. If anyone has ever had that horrid can stuff or the tub, then whipped their own, where in you can add the amount of sugar and vanilla or whatever you wish (chocolate, lavender anything) you will never go back to the store bought. And, of course, I do love photographing food, so here are two close ups.4thparfait 4thparfait2 This was my centerpiece for our gathering, and I didn’t want it to be red white and blue. I decided to use the flowers from my yard and I think the hydrangea, lillies and Phlox, look like explosions of fireoworks, don’t you?4thflowers
We returned downtown at 7p.m. to the Mill pond where a band performs and then at 9pm the 4th of July Boat Parade on the water begins. Any local can enter and you decorate your boats (canoes, dinghy what have you) with lights and affects but you have to have candle lit Chinese Lanterns as part of it, as it is the tradition.
Here is a shot by the Grist Mill and the pond to set the scene. This is fairly representative of my town and area in which I live. sandwichmillpond In many ways, very small town New England America, you can even see a couple fishing in the background.sandwichmillpond4th here you can see people settling in with the band in the background and the boats, later, will appear on the water from behind the old Burial ground, which juts out into the pond.
This part of our day was probably the most Vintage feeling. The band was playing older music and the mood was not as odd as our Parade.
  sandwichboatparade5 Here you can see the people working their boat lit only by the Chinese Lanterns. They set off a great fire display out of the top of their boat. sandwichboatparade7 This boat was called the Huck Finn and they had a nice campfire and tent going on their entry.
It was hard getting good pictures, as it was so dark. But some of the photos turned out to be so beautiful, that I think they almost have a surreal or abstract quality. sandwichboatparade2sandwichboatparade3 sandwichboatparade6 These photos that only captured the dancing Chinese paper lanterns and one errant rocket  made me think of Whistlers painting Nocturne in Black and Gold.whistlernocturne By no means exhibiting the depth and character of that infamous painting (he sued Ruskin for slander of his public hatred of the painting) but it has that quality to it for me; The abstraction of color and form with the reality of representation behind.  I think the images would look nice enlarged in a mid-century modern setting.sandwichboatparade4 This photo, again rather abstract, was beautiful to behold in person. This particular boat filled itself with beautiful large paper shapes that looked like jellyfish, which when they lit them and let them go, floated over us. you could almost feel you were under the sea in its deep dark depths. Two of these got caught up in trees and the crown began to worry and fret, “It’s going to catch on fire” many said and were worried. We were not. It soon burned itself out. Many seem to forget this whole town once was lit by whale oil then kerosene, very flammable substances, and has made it just fine. It did add to the excitement of the night.
It was very small town America. You could almost believe you were in 1950’s at points, as the local band played many 1950’s rock n roll songs, with some Beatles and Jimmy Buffet (not a fan) thrown in. At first, only the children were dancing on the lawn as all others sat and watched. I thought, ‘If this was 1956, the band would be playing dance music and the adults would be dancing, in couples.” It seemed today, only the children danced. Later, as the light ebbed and the excitement of the upcoming boats was upon us, many adults then joined in to dance. Only, it was modern in that all were just jumping up and down. I squinted my eyes a bit and imagined white gloves, sun hats and twirling couples. A Vintage girl can dream, can’t she?
One of the entries this year was interesting in that it was the same boat that had won 100 years earlier in 1910. Obviously, new decorations, as the rules imply, but I thought, my how the world has changed since that boat first tread the waters. We had not even had our first World War yet. So much innocence. The nice part is my town, in many ways, is still very much the same, only the people and their attitudes seem different. I can walk past houses and building hundreds of years old and the old grist mill, which still grinds corn meal to this day, but when I see a mother, clad in almost nothing, ignore her son as he unwraps the candy he just got at the parade and drop the wrapper to the ground with no repercussion, it feels very modern and cold.
I suppose we Vintage lovers have to found our world where we can and to make it today in ways we would think those in the past would have. We can let go of bigotry but still embrace common courtesy and general kindness. It might be old fashioned to dress nicely and appropriately for the occasion, say please and thank you and hold doors for ladies and the elderly, but whenever we modern people manage these things, I think the past smiles a little on us.
So, here is to your present and your future, may they be filled with the joy of the past. I hope all had a wonderful holiday.
Happy Homemaking.


  1. Sounds like a fun day, despite being doused with water. Your town looks adorable. I wish you'd share pictures of you and Gussie watching the parade like ladies.

    There's a pest control company who always sprays water at the crowd each year but as these are adults they mostly waved, didn't spray far into the crowd and aimed for the kids reaching out in the front. As hot as it was I would have been angry in your situation.

    As I mentioned in the comments to the previous post our parade organizers didn't allow candy this year. Nice but still a lot of logo-clad junk being passed out.

    Your town's boat parade sounds darling!


  2. My cousin lives in Sandwich too, and she told me about the boat parade! It sounds so pleasant!

    I don't understand parents who allow children to litter, and run around. I would be mortified if a child of mine tossed trash like that.

  3. Su-Wonderful, you sister lives here. Do you live in MA as well? Is she into vintage?

  4. How odd that they would spray the crowd with water! I can't imagine what would make someone think that was a good idea. No one likes to be sprayed. Other than that though I am glad to hear you had a good holiday.

  5. I know exactly what you are talking about! Our homecoming parade is something we do NOT attend anymore due to the children on the floats are doing their best to pelt the the crowd with the candy....I mean throwing the candy like baseballs and even hitting toddlers! I was disgusted and loudly proclaimed I would not be going to another one to all who could hear. What's worse is the adults who are "supervising" are just walking along beside them LAUGHING! I will stick to the Veteran's parade as we do not have a July 4th parade.
    We did the tissue hot air balloons and LOVE THEM, kudos to whomever "discovered" them! I am hoping to have numerous ones for our church camp in a few weeks. It is an amazing site when several lift into the air at the same time.

  6. The blaring fire trucks seem to be a standard parade feature nowadays, as parades here (Nebraska) have them as well.

    Was it an extraordinarily hot day that day? I can see where, if it was, the water might be appreciated by some...but I agree they should have only sprayed those that seemed like they wanted it.

  7. 50sgal, I'm from MA, Wellfleet, actually, but I've been living in CA for 7 years now. I'm dying to get back home again, soon!

    No, sadly, my cousin thinks my love of history in all forms to be odd, but she loves me anyway!

    It's funny, that you thought I meant my sister, as we have always considered ourselves to be such, and referred to one another that way. :)

  8. su-I love wellfleet! Hubby and I and we were first married lived in a little house in Eastham near Coast Guard Beach, where we were married. I do love that end of the cape. A friend of mine is coming in from D.C. next week and staying a week in P-town, so Hubby and I will go there for a few days, it should be nice. Do you want to come home to live or visit?

  9. How exciting! Could this be the beginning of a tangible coffee clatch? And how funny, Su that your cousin lives in such an historic town, yet does not take pleasure in the rich tapestry that is Sandwich. Hmmm...

  10. I want to do both! Chances are, the cape will be just visits though, since hunny's job will most likely land us in Philadelphia.

    I made him promise a cottage on the cape one day though!

  11. I was just in Sandwich about two weeks ago. Lovely town! Might stop by in August on my way to the Vineyard.

  12. Ahhhh the 1950s when women were ladies and men were gentlemen.....even the autos in the 50s looked feminine........MELE KALIKIMAKA


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