Karen Abbott

At The Fencepost: June 6, 2012

Karen Abbott

by Karen Abbott

I was fortunate to be able to attend two Memorial Day parades last week. Both of them left me pensive, agitated, and out-of-sorts. It’s hard to put my finger on any specific reasons.  I don’t want to analyze it. I just know I’m really glad I went.

When I was a kid growing up in Fulton, we went to the parade every year without fail. In those days, the parade was the place to be. People lined up on both sides of East Broadway with lawn chairs, coolers, and wagons. It was a whole-family affair. We had relatives from western New York come up every year for the parade. Our three generations’ worth covered a third of a block at the end of our street.

The atmosphere was exciting; a little like the State Fair, only in our own town. I didn’t like waiting around for the first glimpse of action, but when it came, I was all for it. I loved the marching bands the best.

The Shriners were fascinating, too, swooshing by on their motorbikes making long figure-eights. Boy Scouts, Brownies, clubs, and auxiliaries – it seemed an endless procession.

Fire trucks loomed large, and I remember seeing a couple Dalmatians. We scrambled for the candy the firefighters tossed out to us, half-nervous about what would happen to us if we ran into the street to collect it.

Antique cars rolled by proudly. One in particular caught my eye, and I said, “I wonder what year that’s from.” To my great surprise, my grandmother piped up beside me: “1927!” She went on to reminisce about the year of her honeymoon, when that particular model was all the rage. I was fascinated. I had no idea she knew anything about cars!

As the years passed, my childhood naiveté gradually faded. I learned more about my uncle, who had served in the Green Berets.  He scared me a little. I was relieved that he didn’t seem to want to talk about his tour of duty.

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