Commonwealth Journal

June 29, 2009

Everbody used to love a parade


“Everybody loves a parade.”

That was a fact a half century ago. Is it still true?

An old photograph of a standing-room-only crowd at a “Cow Day” parade during the 1950s left us wondering if a similar event would trigger such a massive response today.

Today’s ultra-successful Somernites Cruise with hundreds of unique and expensive antique cars draws a wonderful crowd. However, it doesn’t compare with “Cow Day” of the 1950s when there wasn’t elbow room on Fountain Square. No cars, no police tapes, just people next to people.

Politicians –– office seekers –– would bring ‘em to town in droves. Speakers would intone from the balcony of the ancient courthouse and the crowd would breathlessly take in every word.

The late A.B. “Happy” Chandler, former governor of Kentucky, could speak 45 minutes to an hour and nobody would walk away. And, in case you’re not up on political history, he was a “Blue Dog Democrat” having the time of his life amongst dyed-in-the-wool Republicans.

Chandler was a skillful politician. Before appearing at a political rally, he “learned” hundreds of locals and would sprinkle his speech with personalities, calling names as if he lived next door. The governor had already grabbed their attention with his opening line: “I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony ... I don’t know where to start.”

Really, you didn’t have to be a slick talker to draw a crowd. Pulaski County’s “June is National Dairy Month” celebration drew such a mob that it was recognized nationally. Highlight was a milk-drinking contest and the grand prize was a “heifer calf,” something most folks this day and time had just as soon not win.

The Good Ol’ Days were different. Television was not the “Great Entertainer” that keeps people glued to the tube. Al Gore had not “invented” the Internet and the closest thing to an electronic game was a sack of marbles. Toy soldiers and Barbie dolls kept the kids busy.

People lived in a different environment. Most houses had generous front porches with swings. Supper was cooked on a wood-fired range and sleeping quarters on a summer night had to cool before going to bed. Open windows were air conditioners.

A breeze wafted across a beckoning front porch, inviting neighbors to come and sit until bedtime. Children played hide-and-go-seek and kick the can.

Yes, those were the Good Ol’ Days; treasured memories of a time long gone. There are those still living who would enjoy sitting a spell on a porch swing and watching lightning bugs welcome a summer night.