Day 10*Part 1
There are train children, Lego children, dress-up children, tea party children, sporty children, barbie children, Tonka children, swimmer children, and even little reader children.
I was none of those.
I was an animal child. I wanted to grow up to take the job of Jack Hanna or Jacque Cousteau. I was also a bit of a loner. While I had friends, I was fairly happy spending long hours exploring the neighborhood with only my bike to keep me company.
About 1/2 a mile from our house was a property with horses. On the horse-side of the fence the grass was short and over-grazed, but just on the sidewalk-side (my side), the grass grew long, out of the reach of the horses mouths. I used to ride my bike to visit the horses and pick the long grass and hand it threw the chain link to my equine friends. It was a treat for them, but mostly it was a treat for me.
We never had horses, and we didn't know anyone with horses. I can't tell you how badly I wanted a pony, but getting a rabbit was hard enough in my house. And so, when my first opportunity to ride a horse finally came, I was so surprised and excited that I about burst! And it happened at the Neoga Days Parade.
We had our customary place that we always watched the parade from: The corner of Elm and the Trowbridge Road. I don't know exactly how old I was, maybe seven or eight, but I remember it perfectly.
I was watching the parade and trying to gather all of the candy that was thrown from the floats, Shriner's, and firetrucks, when I saw the horses coming. If you've ever been to a parade, you know that occasionally the parade line stops, perhaps to allow a traffic cop to let cars flow through, or because a train is coming, or whatever. It just so happened that the Neoga Days Parade stopped at the perfect moment for the horses to be
RIGHT. IN FRONT. OF ME.
One of the riders dismounted his horse, came over to me, and asked if I, the animal kid of all animal kids, wanted to ride his horse. That rider was my new best friend, and he didn't even know it. I COULD NOT believe my luck! At that moment I knew that Jiminy Cricket was serious about what he sang about:
wishes really do come true.
When he placed me on that horse, I felt completely triumphant! I looked down to wave at my parents and I suddenly realized that I was about fifty feet in the air. I had no idea that being on a horse made you so HIGH UP! I was scared out of my wits! My new best friend had just been demoted to child abductor/torturer, and he didn't even know it. He led me in circles while the parade was stopped, but eventually Heaven had mercy on my terrified heart, the parade began to move forward, and my rider helped me down where I stayed securely attached to the grass for the remainder of the parade.
That was just one of the many memories crowding my mind the morning of Day 10. Some of those memories included the presence of family widows long since passed, children long since become parents, and one monumental memory of an elephant with red-painted toe nails, but those are not for today. Those will stay tucked away in a jar marked "Neoga", in the pantry marked "childhood", in the run down mansion of such memories in my mind.
It was with all of these thoughts that I was lightened by my reminiscing as I walked out Grandma's door with my ducklings in tow,
My Aunt Connie had driven Grandma up the block in her car where they parked in the shade of a tree so that Grandma could watch the parade, too. We sat on the corner of the road to wait for the parade and Meeka handed me her treasures that she had been carrying all the way from Grandma's house. I was officially "Mom" to
Immediately after I snapped this shot, two setbacks occurred.
1. My camera's battery went dead. (Oh, catastrophe!!!)
2. Meeka had to go potty. (Wouldn't you know it?!)
To be completely truthful, I was excited that Meeka needed to go. It gave me an excuse to run home and charge the battery for a few minutes. I plucked up Meeka and scurried down the alley, around the corner, and back to Grandma's for a quick bathroom break. While my battery charged, Meeka discharged, and when we left Grandma's for the second time, both were refreshed and ready for the parade.
Wikipedia claims that Neoga has a population of 1854 people. Among small towns in the area, it's pretty big. The nearest little towns boast populations of 200-400 people, and Neoga even out-populates the county seat, Toledo, by 500 residents! That makes Neoga BIG STUFF in a SMALL STUFF region.
Small town parades have small town stuff. That's just the way we like it. If I were the parade planner, would I lead the parade with a
Mayzie didn't know what she was getting into when
After missing her target several times, this clown had to grab her hand with both of his and shake it vigorously. I don't know what was the matter with Mayzie's aim!
The equine breeds came in all sizes. Meeka liked the
When the parade ended, we walked back to Grandma's laden with free candy, frisbees, sunscreen, beach balls, pencils, flyers, and memories.