Tag Archives: Small town

America on Parade

by Kate

On Monday morning, the fair skinned Irish part of our family donned hats, and we all headed down the hill and around the corner for the annual Lawrenceville Memorial Day Parade.

Though it could be argued that we look fairly hip and urban here, let me assure you that this parade was endearingly small town and about as Americana as you can get. We attempted to dress appropriately, right down to Olympia’s stylish patriotic red white and blue boots.

There was a general sense of timelessness. Horses provided classic excitement.

This motorbike and cannon conjured up my lazy hazy knowledge the Lawrenceville was crucial in making cannons during the civil war, and then in sending many many young men off to WWI. I promise to learn the history by next year and share it with you.

I do know that Lawrenceville is famous for two things- the fact that the famous composer Stephan Foster was born here, and the Doughboy Statue. This statue was commissioned with funds originally raised to help out the many locals overseas fighting WWI, but the war ended before the funds could be sent out to help them. Here are Stephen and the Doughboy themselves.

They were followed by a group that completely delighted me- the Pittsburgh Letter Carriers’s Marching Band. I loved everything about them.

I fervently hope that this tradition continues. There was something really wonderful about seeing mailmen marching along playing musical instruments.

In contrast to the discipline of the Letter Carriers, there was a large group of men ambling along and stopping in a random manner to fire off blanks now and then. This was more painful and less endearing, but not entirely out of charactor for the Lawrenceville neighborhood. On the bright side, they really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The Civil War re-enacters were far more disciplined. Of course.

There was an army of bagpipers, also very disciplined.

They were very dignified and impressive.

There were vintage fast cars, going slow.

A truck that I coveted.

There were Masons on parade.

And of course, an American parade wouldn’t be complete without a pretty girl waving  from a red convertible.

It was a great celebration of American history and community- even if I didn’t manage to catch any candy.

Post Voting Nostalgia

by Mary

One evening last week I drove the three miles down Hwy 33 to our local Town Hall to vote. Before going inside, I halted and knocked mud off my boots. Not that it really mattered, but I had been euthanizing a bed of dreadfully ugly graveyard flowers (aka, day lilies), and I didn’t want to track mud into the building. When I entered my local town hall, I took a second to reflect on what the environment would look like from a 3rd party perspective.
The hall is very small and always warm. The heat is generated by a old cast iron wood burning stove that even in April was still being utilized. The curtains which hover over the three or four voter booths must have once been white, but are yellow from age. Looking at them made me wonder if a farm wife had sewn them in the 60’s or 70’s? What is most famous to me about the place is the ballot machine that I swear is bulimic! In goes my vote, out it is spit. After one regurgitation, my vote went through, and I was back in my car processing things. From an outsiders view, my world must appear so small.
However, I don’t look at it that way at all. The best way of going about explaining this, would be to start off by stating the I am the daughter of a former journalist. In a sense, my father gave me the world and simultaneously brought it to our door. He did this in many different ways. First off, he introduced us kids to the key that brings the world to life anywhere and everywhere. It’s free (well actually, I have had up to a $40 fine on mine), is less than an inch in length and plastic-a library card. All of my life, I have followed my parents example and read and read and read, That very morning, I had risen at 5:30 with the addiction to squeeze time into my day for a fantastic novel on Nepal and it’s civil war. Through pages of books, the world has been introduced to me in such a raw way.
Being a reporter enabled my Dad to take us kids out into the world with him. Growing up, I attended meetings, conventions, long masses that I had had a notorious time sitting through, and other assignments with Dad. Typically, a few of us kids would pile into a falling apart car with him. We would bring our substance of survival-books, and hope that the place or places we were going would have good food to rush at (Slattery kids are always first in food lines, it’s like a survival thing I think), and that we wouldn’t get into too many scrapes from frowning adults while we “free ranged it” for the day.
My parents exhibit a certain charisma that welcomes the world to their very own doorstep. A quick list of a few of our more cultured (and less crazy) guests would include: My Dad’s best friend, a former American resident, who has been serving overseas with the Peace Corps for the last 20 some years, many Muslims and Hmong families have frequented our farm. Also, Dad has a ton of priest friends who have come from all over. India, Africa, and Mexico are the places of which most would tell you is their home origin. One of my favorite group of guests ever, were 4 Landless Peasants from South America, who came to the States to protest Monsanto. Talk about a learning experience under your very own roof! In the days before my birth, Dad and Mom had somehow befriended a Polish refugee who lived with our family. After Robert was born, he moved out, so I never really got to learn much about his country until later on when my Dad started inviting over Victor Lugalis. Victor was a Orthodox Priest from Lithuania who had wife and three children. The Lugallis family taught my family a whole lot about Soviet History and Mom and Kate even performed in a play that he wrote on Poland.
As a young girl, I was uncomfortable and even resentful due to the level of “weirdness” that I was constantly exposed to. I didn’t get why I had to spend time traversing about the diocese or beyond with my Dad, lugging his camera case and having what seemed like every Priest in the area know my family’s name. I was absolutely confident that knowing poultry words in Hmong and being the only white kid at their celebrations save my brothers, was not fun, nor anything to be proud of.
As the years have ebbed by, I am increasingly grateful for the gift of the world given to me by my Father. I am proud of being able to vote at a tiny town hall that has an ample supply of firewood and a certain peace to it. My roots are here in Wisconsin, I am not and never will be a city person. I hate elevators, can’t drive in city traffic and am in a general state of confusion over how to cross a street in a busy city. But the world as a whole is something that I hold a sacred reverence for…it’s a beautiful puzzle, and I am not afraid of it. Thank you Dad!

The Simple Life (with Soda Pop and Subs)

By Colleen

While at the local convenience store/deli in the tiny, tiny town of Cashton on Friday night a few weeks back, I noted a sight that gave me some pause.  I live in a part of Western Wisconsin that happens to have a large Amish community, and I’ve grown up seeing them all around.  I’ve seen them walking along the side of the road as my loud, yellow bus flies by; I’ve met them coming into or out of town in their buggies in the rain, snow, sleet, and shine; I’ve gone with Dad on countless trips to Amish homes, and have been stared at by the younger children, wide eyes and little pink mouths slightly ajar.  For me, the Amish are a part of life in Western Wisconsin, but I know this is not the case in most of the rest of the country.

This is why I was suddenly struck by the rarity of what happened on that Friday night.  It was around 9 o’clock at night when a group of three or four Amish walked in, a woman and a couple of men.  Dressed in their somber grays, blacks, and navy blues, they made quite a contrast against the shelves of snack foods which blared gold, blue, purple, and green loudly off their plastic covered wrappings.  They went about their business, speaking in quiet tones, and ordered a round of sub sandwiches from the deli section.  Then, they stood back to wait, leaning a little awkwardly against the wall.  The woman sipped a container of Pepsi, and glanced around nonchalantly.  Perhaps they were on their way back from an Amish wedding or church service.  They looked like any travel-weary person, just waiting for a bite to eat and then back to the open road.  The main difference: these travelers wouldn’t be hopping into a Buick or a Honda-they got to look forward to a bumpy buggy ride home, with a tired horse to take them there.

What I loved most about this simple occurrence was how my friends handled it.  They’ve both grown up in the area and did not even blink when the Amish came in.  In fact, I was the only one who noted these quiet folk as they went about their simple way of living, sipping soda under the fluorescent lights.