A long, long time ago - circa 1966 - my mom, Cukie, decided her four kids needed to learn about, and experience patriotism. So, being the creative mom that she was, she invented the “Freeman Street Fourth of July Parade”. In those days there were scads of kids living in the neighborhood, and she invited them all to join in the parade - and they heartily did just that.
The event began with the gathering of youngsters in our front yard. I remember patriotic music coming from the record player somewhere in the house, wafting through the window screen. The crisp morning air was filled with a sense of anticipation as kids dressed as Uncle Sam, or in their sparkly twirling suit, or even dressed as a cowboy or Little League ballplayer began arriving, many of them accompanied by their moms. And I remember our grandmother, Mamaw French, was always there to cheer us on. The joyful chatter of greetings was soon hushed, and we all became very solemn as Robbie held up the American flag and we put our right hand over our heart and pledged allegiance to God and country. We then bowed our heads in prayer.
Next, all solemnity put aside, the parade began! Robbie was out in front, waving the flag to announce our presence. He was escorted by our beloved black dog, Amos. Nancy was next, a bandage around her head smeared with Mom's lipstick, denoting that she was a wounded soldier playing the flute. They were followed by the “troops”. Some kids marched with pot lids, clanging them together as though they were cymbals. Some kids were drummers, beating time on the bottom of pots with wooden spoons. Other kids had decorated their bicycles with crepe paper streamers, and they wove in and out among the marchers. One year, Bob Ed (my cousin) drove a battery-operated car in the parade, and one year someone brought their donkey. We had kids dressed as clowns, and kids dressed as themselves. And we all carried a little flag, which we proudly waved at anyone who came out of their house to see what all the noise was about.
We only journeyed one block, Freeman and Balfour Street , before returning to our front yard for cookies and punch. I remember standing beneath the shade of our huge elm trees, laughing and visiting with everyone. Would you like to know the adults who were then just kids and who proudly waved their little flag or clanged their pot lids? I'm sure I'll miss a few, but I'll try my best to get them all: Bob Ed/Lu Ann Tapp; Mary Ruth/Keith Arnett; Judy/Gary Kincannon; Everett/Evan/Paul Wheeler; Steven/Ron Carey; Sharla/Tim Hawkins; Tom/Mark Twyman; Linda/Chuck Kramer; Rex Gore; Mary Chris/Talk Swinburne; Sheryl Kay/Leon Hulls. We were all so innocent, all so young, and all so happy to announce to the world that we were proud to be Americans. Either that, or we were just a group of kids having fun walking around the block on a sunlit Saturday morning in July.
My sister, Nancy, has decided the “Freeman Street Fourth of July Parade” needs to celebrate it's fortieth year anniversary! So, on July the 4 th , there will once again be a band of kids gathering in Mom's front yard, hopefully resplendent in costumes (no donkeys, please) and full of patriotic zeal. And Nancy isn't just inviting the kids of Freeman/Balfour Street to join this parade - she is inviting all the kids in town! Wow, this could be interesting…. bring your lawn chair, find a spot along the route, and see what happens.
Boise City News