My sister Barbara was 10 years old and my sister Janis was 8 years old when I was born. Since my parents were both in their late 30s at the time, clearly I was an accident. Nevertheless, in some fashion, my sisters delighted in having a new baby brother. One such delight was the annual 4th of July parade that many small towns had every year. Our little town was no exception, almost to the point of strangeness.
Anyone that wanted to could march in the 4th of July parade. It wasn’t like today where only major high school bands, businesses, floats, or fire trucks can participate. Everyone delighted in dressing up whatever vehicle they had to celebrate the day. After all, the Republic was only 175 years old and these things had to be celebrated. As near as I can tell, my family never participated before July 1951.
My sisters now had an excuse to dress up and show off their new baby brother, and they spent countless hours designing and making a suitable costume for me in that wonderful parade beginning with a simple stroller for a 9-month-old boy. As you can see however, the result of the vehicle and its only occupant were the result of the imaginings of two young Girl Scouts.
The years went by and there were always the stories about that “adorable” little boy in the parade so long ago. Moreover, as the parades began and ended, so too did the rules of the parade. I am told that it became important to encourage people to participate and so a Grandstand was constructed and prizes were invented. A little boy, now 4 years 9 months, was to be in the 1955 parade.
My sisters were not as enthusiastic about showing me off as they once had been. Now 15 and 13 they were on to other interests that no doubt included boys their own age and the burgeoning rock-and-roll music that was just then appearing on the scene. However, they did help with the decorating of my little tricycle. For my part, I had discovered Roy Rodgers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, and the Cisco Kid. There was nothing better than “good vs. evil” and I had my favorites all picked out. I had my cowboy hat, my fancy holster, and toy six-guns, and I was ready.
I don’t remember much of the parade except the ending at the grandstand. I thought it would be a good idea to take off my cowboy hat and wave to the crowd and to the members on the grandstand. They awarded me a $5 prize for being the cutest kid in the parade, or some such made up thing. For many years, afterward I was the subject of 4th of July legend. There are few people alive today who would remember it, but occasionally I still hear a reference to the cute towhead kid in the parade.
This episode, and the subsequent notoriety that forever followed, seemed to end my sister’s need to show off their baby brother. They were in their teens and their 4-year-old brother had shown them up big time! At their ages, they didn’t need the competition and I don’t remember ever participating in another 4th of July parade.
© J T Weaver
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