Melbeta’s townies don’t know what they missed


The Fourth of July is nearly here, and my mind has gone vintage. This isn’t a new thing. It happens every year around this time: My mind begins seeing things it never actually saw but thinks it has.

Maybe there really is reincarnation, and I lived in an earlier time.

When I was a child, my dreamy nature created great illusions about all the things I was missing by being raised on a farm far from all the splendor that was going on in Melbeta, the great city of 88, which was within two miles of home.

This feeling is never stronger than around the Fourth of July.

Little happened on the farm on the Fourth of July. Dad set off a few fireworks, and my brother and I ran through the yard at dusk with colorful sparklers, but I knew just a few miles away great things were happening.

While I was held captive surrounded by hundreds of rows of corn and beans, my counterparts in Melbeta where watching a giant parade with marching bands, politicians on stands decorated with yards of red, white and blue bunting. Barefoot boys were running around town in rolled-up overalls with one strap dangling and lighting firecrackers under tin cans.

Girls with gorgeous curls trailing down their backs and wearing perky pastel dresses softly blowing in the wind jumped rope or sat in a circle playing jacks hoping to be teased by the wayward boys.

Men played baseball and women talked of womanly things.

Families gathered in the city park around tables loaded with crisp fried chicken, creamy potato salad, frosty lemonade and hand churned ice cream.

Despite the decades that have passed since childhood, this is still the image that comes to mind when this time of year rolls around. Never mind that I know this is simply a historical turn-of-the century image that may have existed, but not during my time or in that small town just a few miles away.

Too bad; I would have had a fun time. Hope you do, too!


Joyce Ore

Joyce Ore writes delightful stories about life with a dose of humor and sprinkle of nostalgia. Her column appears Saturday in the Tribune.

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