Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm A Yankee Doodle

It's not enough to get the breaks, you gotta know how to use 'em.

Huey Long
It was the Fourth of July back in the early 50's. I was living in a small town, a suburb of New York City. I managed to scrape enough money together delivering papers to buy a uniform, so I joined the Boy Scouts.

I knew there was going to be a parade down main street ad that the Boy Scouts were invited to march in it. At first I was reluctant to join them. It was a holiday, a day off, a day to relax, take it easy, listen to the radio and do nothing. But eventually I decided to go, so I put on my uniform and went downtown. That was my first mistake. When I got there the parade was about to start. I found where the scouts were lined up on a side street and got on the back of the line.

Mr. Tuttle was the town recreation director for school kids. He was the one who took care of our summer programs, took us to the ballpark and kept his eye on us in the playground. On this day he came up to me at the back of the line and asked me to come with him. I did. That was my second mistake.

Whether it was because I was taller than the other scouts, or whether he wanted to honor me (which I doubt) or whether it was my diabolical destiny, he said "I want you to carry the American flag."

I was taken to the very front of the parade and given a leather brace with a cup to hold the bottom of the flag pole and the flag. I took it. That was my third mistake. It was a heavy flag with gold braids hanging from it and at the very top a golden eagle.

Next to me was someone I didn't know carrying the New York State flag. Behind me was the high school marching band. Behind them was an open air car with the mayor and some other dignitaries. Then came a float from the Kiwanis Club, a fire engine loaded down with children. Then I think I saw some baton twirlers but I don't remember what else was back there. Soon everyone was in place, Mr. Tuttle gave the signal, the band began to play "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and we started marching all together, proudly down Main Street.. But the parade went for less than 50 feet before it came to an abrupt halt.

There were only a few trees hanging over the main street of that town, but I immediately found one. The eagle on the top of the flag pole got tangled up in it's branches and would not shake loose. I pulled, tugged and twisted. No good.

Mr. Tuttle and one of the other men came up, They pulled, tugged and twisted. No good. The eagle had landed.

A shop keeper came out with a step ladder, but even standing on the top of it he couldn't reach the eagle. Meanwhile the band was playing through it's whole repertory of Sousa marches.

Finally somebody produced an A ladder, set it up, climbed it and freed the eagle. After waiting for them to take down the ladder and carry it away, the parade went on to entertain the curious and frustrated spectators.

When we reached the village green, I surrendered the flag and went home, which is where I should have been in the first place.

Since that embarrassing day no one has ever asked me to carry the American flag, or any other flag. Which is just as well.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

All of these questions have to do with United States history.
(Wikipedia here they come.)

1. In which hand does the Statue of Liberty hold the torch?
2. Who was Martha Skelton?
3. Which was the last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution?
4. Who was Emma Lazarus?
5. What happened on Christmas, 1776?
6. Who was Alexandre Eiffel?
7. Which was the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution?
8. Who was Martha Custis?
9. How many stripes on the US flag are red?
10. Who was Frederic Bartholdi?
11. What does the Statue of Liberty hold in her other hand?

Good luck

It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.

Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?

7 answers so far.

You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.



Connie Higginbotham said...

That was a dandy tale about your parade,lol.

Geo. said...

Terrific story, DB. Thanks!

Ally Lifewithally said...

DB thanks for sharing a lovely memory ~ Ally x

Big Mark 243 said...

Funny story. I think Mr. Tuttle assumed that you could 'bear' the weight of the flag and the eagle. Not to mention that you prolly gave off a dignity that would have led a solemnity to the event.

I was a platoon leader and guidon bearer for my basic training platoon. I learned a lot about pomp and circumstance under a lot of pressure. But it was fun and quite a memorable experience for me.

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

Carrying the flag would be exhausting, I have never been in a parade, and have no desire to do so in the future.