Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flags Always Fly on Their Birthdays

Memories of Memorial Days Past....
When I was young, my mother and her very dear friend, Anita Schriefer, became leaders of a group of young neighborhood girls. Together, they organized us into a Brownie troop and we met regularly in our basement playroom. There, we worked on fulfilling the requirements that would earn us the badges we wore on wide sashes across our chests. As we grew older, we "flew up" to become Girl Scouts and the uniforms we wore to meetings changed from brown cotton shirtwaists to green.
One of our annual activities was to march in the Garden City Memorial Day Parade. We practiced for weeks in the street in front of my house. Four lines of four girls across. I can still remember many of their names; Melanie Miele and Marie Russo (seen with me - center - in the photo above) Kit Bloom, Ellen Hubbell, Barbara Gilkes, Jackie Harvey, Pam Mitchum, Dorothy Schriefer, and of course, myself among a few others. Mom and "Aunt Anita" kept everyone in line and eventually, the big day would arrive and we would find ourselves somewhere on Franklin or Stewart Avenue marching along while throngs of Garden City residents, parents, relatives and visitors cheered wildly while waving little American flags.
I'm not sure if we knew why we were marching or even if we knew of the significance of the day. I just remember that that is what we did for many years.

After the parade, we went home to celebrate more than just a national holiday. It was my brothers birthday and also that of my maternal grandmother, Rose. I don't recall too much of a fuss being made over my grandmother but she would always be there, sweetly stepping into the shadows as my brother, Steven, revelled in the sunlight that always shone on him on that day. We would play in the yard while our father grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. There would be a birthday cake and I'm sure there were presents. Every year my mother would say; "The flag always flies on their birthday". And, indeed it did.

Years later, certainly by 1964, the parade was a memory. By then, we would anticipate a two hour ride to our summer home on Shelter Island for the long weekend. The Girl Scout Troop had dissolved, the scouts having become more interested in cheerleading, driving, dating and other past-times of adolescence. Now we celebrated "openings"
- the re-opening of the bars and restaurants on "the Rock" after a long and often cold and dreary winter.