by rob brian
This is of the Spring of 06 and the Mulhall parade.
|The spring was short but sweet, the dogwoods and redbuds bloomed on schedule, and splashed the fragrant creek bottoms in delicate purple and white. The heat came too soon, and summer, like an early guest, brought out the snakes to warm themselves on the red dirt roads. The expected rain didn’t come, and the wheat suffered, and the farmers hesitated, and argued in the cafe whether just to disc it all up, or continue their endless struggle with their particular faith. The prairie grass was stunted and reluctant to come out of it’s winter dormancy, and the cattle were moving across the pastures to find the short lush winter grasses hidden under the dry ochre remnants of last year. The cattle ranchers were taking their beef calves early to the sale barn, with no wheat pastures, and looking to preserve what grass pastures they did have. Everyone was looking to the heavens for the chance of rain. The heat was fading the green optimism from the first grasses of spring, and our resolve. We needed something to celebrate, a reprieve from our discouragement. We were throwing everything to the oppressive heat; oaths, prayer, curses, and complaint. Perhaps it was time for a little humor.
Memorial Day weekend brought us the “Mulhall Days Parade.” There was the Logan County Sherrif’s department represented by Charlie McNanny and his wailing siren, and the Mulhall Volunteer Fire Department, their engine and tanker polished and shining. Mike Gorrell smiled and waved. Shane and little Gabe Estus were throwing candy to the excited kids from the cab of the tanker. There was a lawn mower modified to appear as a bull with horns, driven by Jody Brainard accompanied by Vance Brainard and Taylor Uhrig, scattering kids as they squealed and picked up candy. The Cyphers had a whole train of Cyphers and friends riding in half barrels with wheels. Bob Larson in his lawn mower was right behind Matt Martin in his President George Bush mask towing Laura Bush (we still don’t know who she was,) in a cart, tossing candy to the crowd. A whole fleet of lawn mowers and four wheelers darted in and out of the parade, as the American flags waved from every lamp post. Whitey Yost led the motorcycles with Tom and Franky Foster, and Jim and Sharron Mears waving and smiling. There was the Mulhall-Orlando West Way Extension Women’s Club float, and the FFA float filled with Cyphers, Estus, Gorrell, Kindschi, and fellow Mulhall-Orlando FFA members. The Guthrie Car Club was there with Raymond and Kathlene Snyder, in their classic cars. The only disappointment for me was that they didn’t go around twice.
It reminded me of a more innocent time. It was a moving Norman Rockwell painting, a snapshot of small town America at its best. For a brief time we forgot about high gas prices, and Islamic terrorists. We forgot about the heat, and the lack of rain. It was enough to be a part of the community and celebrate our will to survive and prosper. It was the first parade my little twin babies ever saw. It was the first American parade that my mother in law and Filipino wife ever saw. I wanted to say “Now this is the real America.” But I didn’t need to. They felt it. They don’t know exactly how lucky they were. But I do. It wasn’t the first “Mulhall Days” parade, nor will it be the last, but for me, it might have been the best.