Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day - 60 years ago.

How times have changed.  Sixty years ago when I was a youngster (11 years old) or younger or a little bit older, Memorial Day was a holiday when everything, and I mean everything, including most gas stations, was closed.

It was a time when we all went to the flagpole in front of the police station/town hall/library to honor those who had returned from World War II, those who hadn't, and during that time we were in a police action (?) in Korea.

There was no parade, that I recall, because I only remember the gigantic 4th of July parade.  It was a day for family -- repeat family -- picnics.

The day started early for mom and us children.  Dad was usually on his way to Tri-state Bible Conference, if not he just stayed home and studied.  But mom and the children were going to Aunt Annie's for the annual Memorial Day family picnic (4th of July was usually at our house). 

We looked forward to this day for weeks.  We were going all the way to Springfield, PA (about a 45 minute drive) and we were going in a car!  Since our regular modes of transportation were bike or bus, going anywhere in a car, no matter how sick we got, was a treat.

There was no Memorial Day weekend, unless Memorial Day actually fell on a Saturday or Sunday or Monday.  If Memorial Day fell on Sunday, the holiday was celebrated on Monday.  A day off from school.  And it was a reminder that we would be out of school in two weeks. 

Memorial Day -- May 30.  Always May 30 -- once every decade or so on a Sunday, celebrated on Monday.

Today?  Everything is open, there are a few small town parades, and many family picnics. 
Here where we live today, there is a flag raising ceremony to honor those who have served (we still have a couple of WWII vets as neighbors), lots of Viet Nam vets, and a few Iraq/Afghanistan vets living in our small community (where everybody knows your name).  And a time to pay homage to those service people who have passed on. Then we pile into the community center for coffee and donuts.  That's how we celebrate today. 

My family is usually scattered on Memorial Day weekend, unless we plan a year in advance that we're having a picnic at one of the many parks nearby.  We especially like the airport playing area (small airport) for the children and there is a lot of shade there for the adults, as well as enough older children to watch out for the younger children.  But, as I said we have to plan a year in advance. 

This year is an off-year.  Next year we will be celebrating at the park.  Mama and papa will provide the KFC, the girls (ladies) will provide the potato salad, chips, olives and pickles, desserts, and drinks.  We'll meet and greet around three in the afternoon and party until around seven, which is when the grandparents and younger grandchildren poop out, and we'll all go home. 

I have loved Memorial Day since I was a child.  I don't know what our children remember or what my grandchildren will remember of our family MD celebration, but I hope they have the fond memories I have.


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