Saturday, May 24, 2003

Sheep Dip Days Parade

I had to take a moment before I get over to the festivities of Sheep Dip Days here in Beloved to tell you about the parade. It was incredible.

First of all, the whole town is decorated for Memorial Day. The VFW put them little flags on all the graves of folks who served in the military. I reckon every single grave in Ledford Cemetery had flowers on it from family members...everyone buried round here is kin to someone so no grave is left unremembered. Flags and bunting hung all over the place. The town elders put the decorations up now and leave 'em up till after the 4th of July.

I had to laugh though. Annie Pankey runs a little shop in downtown Beloved where she sells antique and new linens, lace goods and such. She calls it Pankey's Hankies (great play on words). Well Annie is pretty old and don't much favor buyin' new stuff. She put a flag out in front of her shop. I was standin' jawin' with some fellers and as I looked at that flag it just didn't look right. The more I looked the odder it was.

Then I realized!!! It only had 48 stars! Annie Pankey bought an "antique flag" from before Alaska and Hawaii were states! We told her the flag only had 48 stars and after a little persuadin' she went and bought a new one. She laughed and laughed when she realized it.

The Founder's Well had been cleaned till it looked new and the gazebo that houses Sleepy Jean had been painted all white and the little ol' gingerbread woodwork looked beautiful. Folks don't add detail like that these days.

The parade started with Johnny Sizemore at the lead. He was wearin' the Raggedy Taggedy Shaggedy Coat from the museum and was dressed like John Henry Bowling - the real raggedy taggedy shaggedy man. Folks got teary eyed right off when they saw him wearin' that coat. He marched to the town's song - "Beloved is Beloved to me". The high school band marched behind him playin' the song and they were dapper in their new uniforms. Them uniforms is what the proceeds from last year's Sheep Dip Days went to.

Then the fire department from Beloved came, si-reen a blowin' and the fire folks was a throwin' Tom's peanut logs to the crowd.

The VFW came next - some of the older guys wore their uniforms - most couldn't fit in them if they was paid!

Folks in Beloved had asked all the Viet Nam era vets from all over Clay County to march next. They were finally given a welcome home parade.

When they got to the center of town the parade stopped and the VFW fellers came to attention. An about face was called and as a unit they turned - faced the Viet Nam vets as the commander of the VFW ordered a salute.

There wasn't a dry eye as the older fellers stood at attention and saluted the Viet Nam vets. They returned the salute and I believe every man jack of 'em stood a little straighter and marched a little prouder for the rest of the parade. Folks cheered 'em as they passed.

There was 16 horses with riders - some with awesome costumes. Anse Collins was ridin' in his farm wagon - decorated by his youngin's with crepe paper. The wagon was pulled by Anse's matched pair of mammoth red mules.

The York Rite Masons marched in their full garb - them feathered hats looked like royalty or something. The Shriners from all over came and was a ridin' them little ol' dirt bikes and little bitty and out, in and out.

Birdy Sue Poovey rode in a big ol' Dodge from the 30s or 40s - a convertible. She was a sight to behold. Feller could fall in love with her, sure enough.

Ya might remember the original squirrel fishin' club I put together - the one that made squirrel fishin' a household thing in the south - was right here in Beloved. Well, they was there too. A dozen fellers had took little red wagons, just like mine, had welded hamster wheels to either side of the tongue of the wagon...just like mine and had taught 8 little squirrels each to run in those wheels and pull them in that red wagon.

Hold a fishin' pole in front of them squirrels and holler gee or haw to turn and they would go anywhere. They had them doing precision drills - in and out, left and right. It made me proud. And they say ya cain't go home agin.

Three other fire departments sent trucks. They was 28 old cars in the parade. I counted over 53 youngin's with their bikes decorated ridin' along. 14 folks leadin' huntin' dogs.

On the very last fire truck...the last thing in the parade...lights a flashin'. Si-reens a hootin'...there was Annie Pankey - sittin' backards on the ladder....

Wavin' that dang 48 star flag as hard as she could.

Ya know, I don't know if she is just cantankerous or has a bolt loose in her manifold.

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