Thursday, November 25, 2010

Join The Parade

Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.

John Barth
It's Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. This is the day families get together and enjoy or don't enjoy each other's company. It's a feasting day, the celebration of the harvest. It's also the day of the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. If you aren't there you may be watching it right now on television instead of reading my purple prose.

Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Garza Huerta in 1937. He was a Mexican American, born in Texas. In his younger years he played guitar and sand songs in both English and Spanish. He specialized in folk, rock and Trejano, which is a mixture of Louisiana folk music and Mexican Mariachi. He played and sang in bars and honky tonks all around the South. He took there name Fender from his guitar, and thought the name Freddy went well with it.

The Thanksgiving parade begins way up on the upper West Side of Manhattan and moves down Broadway to lower Manhattan. Marching bands from all around the country come to be in the parade. There are big balloons and floats.

For part of his career Freddy was in a group known as the "Texas Tornano." He once described the group by saying "You've heard of the New Kids on the Block? well we're the Old Guys on the Street."

The parade is known for its huge balloons of comic book characters. It's a great delight to children and adults to see Mickey Mouse as tall as a building drifting down Broadway with a big smile and an arm that waves. But those balloons often get tangled up in the wires and tree limbs. When that happens the parade comes to a halt for 10 minutes or so until the handlers get the balloon loose.

Fender was a charismatic entertainer and as a soloist he sang and recorded some songs that won him Emmys. One of them was "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." But his most famous song was "Before The Next Tear Drop Falls." It was the big country hit of the year.

One year I saw the parade from the west side of Times Square. It was a cold and rainy day. There was no one else on the block where I was because there was no shelter except one small awning I was standing under. There was a group of people way off on the other side of Times Square under the marquees of the movie theatres, out of the rain.

The theme of the parade that day was country music. There were the usual balloons and marching bands, and then there was a big float with the sound of a woman's voice singing a country tune. It was Dolly Parton herself, under a canopy of flowers, safe from the rain and surrounded by beautiful girls all with hoop skirts and bouquets. The float went along, made the transition across 7th Avenue and disappeared down Broadway.

Freddy eventually achieved a lot of success, made some films and some TV appearances, was featured on Austin City Limits, won many awards and set up some scholarship funds for other Mexican American kids.

After Dolly Parton and her girls passed there was another big balloon and more marching bands. Then I looked up Bradway and saw a large wooden horse on one of the floats. As it came into view I could see sitting on the horse, way above the street level, was Freddy Fender. And, of course, just as it got to me the parade stopped.

He was dressed for the part including a cowboy hat and boots. But it was raining. Behind him was a marching band, stomping in puddles as they marched in place and played their band music. Freddy looked around and saw me. He waved. I waved back. There was no one else around. He waved at the people on the other side of the square but they were too far away to make eye contact. So he waved at me again. And I waved back. He took his hat and waved that. I was holding my rain coat close around my neck because of the cold, but I let go to wave.

This occasional waving back and forth went on for about 10 minutes before the parade moved again and he went on his way. He was perched up on the big horse from which he couldn't dismount, exposed to the rain and cold and I was huddled in a doorway. There he was stuck in the middle of Times Square in the rain and probably wondering what the hell he was doing there. I could have moved in out of the rain, but even though I wasn't particularly a fan of his, I was his only fan in that place at that time.

He was going to sit there proudly and heroically until the last raindrop fell and I was not going to leave him.

Before he died he wanted to be the first Mexican American inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. I don't think it happened.

DB - The Vagabond
May everybody have a festive day wherever you are

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

8 responses so far.

Thank you.


That corgi :) said...

What a great memory to have, DB. Reading this, I could picture the rain and the cold and where you were huddled under the awning etc. I do remember Freddy Fender's songs. You have to wonder what was going through his head then, at least he saw a friendly face in the crowd waving to him!

I hope the day tomorrow is a good one for you DB


Valerie said...

What a wonderful Thanksgiving memory. Thanks for sharing it with us, Dana! I want to let you know that I am thankful you are my friend today. God bless, Val xox

Rose said...

Sweet memories!

Happy Thanksgiving dear friend!

Hugs, Rose

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Happy Thanksgiving DB. Not much of a parade watcher myself, more of a pigskin person.

Liz said...
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Liz said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi DB, Thanks for the memories regarding Freddy Fender AKA Baldemar Huerta. Even though he lived nearby I never got to meet him. I did not like his hairdo but his songs were among my favorites.

Liz said...
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Lori said...

That was a really good story. I rather liked Freddy Fender when I was a girl.