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Memorialies. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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captainsblog
Memorialies.
We have no war dead in our immediate families, so this holiday has never had the solemnity that it once had and still deserves. (I got a clear sense of that last year, visiting the birthplace of the occasion in a town a couple hours east of here.)  Yet, for me at least, it has a bevy of times, places and things connected to it, some of which resonated especially this year, so I will tell you about them.

A series of six, 1972-77 (and possibly some earlier ones)

Memorial Day growing up meant one thing- The Parade. With a capital P, which does not rhyme with H which stands for Hot.  That would've included me being in the uniformed marchers of the Cub Scout groups I was in back in elementary days (which may or may not have actually happened- I rely on deep dark memories that far back), but definitely, for six years, in the tin-can uniforms of my junior and senior high school bands, which Sousa'd out the patriotic melodies on every one of those Memorial Days.  All of these were mandatory if we wanted to keep getting a period a day for music education and not get shunted into shop or secretarial courses (in the case, then, of the flute section). In junior high, Memorial Day was our only marching gig, and it showed: Mr. Sepe, our "instructor," would express intense frustration about his motley band of nerds not being able to keep time or choreography. At one point, he resorted to "educating" a probably dyslectic (or worse) trumpet player by publicly putting a rock in his left hand and screaming "THAT'S LEFT! NOW PUT THAT FOOT IN FRONT WHEN I SAY LEFT!"

Our high school instructor was much cooler, plus we had to shlep on a football field for six cold Saturdays (or an alternate Thanksgiving) every year, so we vaguely knew what we were doing. But we were older and hairier by then, and the sweat inside those hats and spats was brutal.  I don't think I've ever attended a Memorial Day parade since, and it's not out of disrespect for the dead.

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1981: Deja vu all over back then

As I mentioned last week, Emily's graduation this past Friday evoked memories of my own on the same Memorial weekend of 1981. I think the ceremony was on the Monday itself, although I can't find the program or anything else that would confirm that. Cornell, at the time, specialized in ruthless efficiency at this event: the general University commencement was the only one undergraduates attended (unlike Em's college event where she crossed the stage the other day); degrees were conferred en masse except for, and only for, the PhD's; the speaker was, as always, the University president; and no time was wasted on shit like prizes or honorary degrees (the latter ban still being in place 33 years later).

We did have an academic procession, however, complete with the University mace, scepter and possibly nuclear weapons. And, although I totally do not remember this, that procession must've begun on the Arts Quad, a fair piece from the stadium where everything went down. I know this today, and only today, because a friend from that class was kind enough to post this picture from his own 1981 photography collection of this shady-looking almost-graduate:



I also have no idea who the preppie photobombers are behind my left shoulder. Probably disgruntled honorary degree candidates;)

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1994: It Was 20 Years Ago Today....

After that event, I jumped to Buffalo, then Rochester, and finally had just professionally jumped back here; my almost ten years with my original firm ended with mixed (mostly bad) emotions, and I'd begun at a new firm here, with me commuting and the grrls still in their previous work and daycare gigs until we could find something here.

Today was the day we found it.

It wasn't our first choice- that offer, three-or-so miles to the northeast- got turned down- and it wasn't easy. Our grand tour of several homes got diverted by a flat tire on Cruela de Bonneville (thank gods for Sears being open and available that afternoon), and our barely two-year-old daughter was still in diapers and proving the need for them. But among our stops was at a house close to our realtor's office- a brick house with a barren yard but a lot of potential.  And, ironically, we'd be buying it not from Eddie the original owner, or K and K who'd been here most recently, but from another K: Kevin had just been hired to work at Kodak, and its relocation division was in charge of the sale. Somehow, we got the offer accepted even though we hadn't yet sold our existing home- a glimpse of grace I am still thankful for all these years later- and a just-enough offer came through for us a few days later, making the whole thing work. By early August, we were all out of there and into here, and into the life that has brought changes, challenges but a lot of amazement over the ensuing 20 Memorial Day weekends.

And that, minus the sadness and solemnity, is still something worth remembering.
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