I grew up in the typical small New England community of the 50's and 60's. Our neighborhood was the usual mish-mash of Canuck, Pollock and assorted American mutts. My street was an oil sprayed, dirt paved road topped with a large white Baptist church. Three houses below that stood the Catholic church. Seven houses below that lay the proverbial "package store." A small Polish mom & pop operation that sold cigarettes, booze, meat and a huge array of penny candy with an assortment of anything else that you might need.
My mother would faithfully tend to the graves of our deceased family members on Memorial day. Her routine varied little from year to year. She bought the same kind of flowers and tended the graves in her usual stoic way. Talk of the yearly parade would always gravitate towards an attempt to get my Dad to march. He never expressed much interest. He was one of the few WWII vets that we knew, except for the few friends and co-workers and VFW members that we occasionally met.. Most of my friends had fathers younger than mine. I estimate that my father was thirty nine years old when I was born. My father was a P.O.W. in WWII (see picture 2nd from left) and I think that he just wanted to forget those days.
As kids, we faithfully watched the Memorial Day parade from the lawn of the Baptist Church. From there, we would scurry across the railroad tracks and jump over the stream that fed the Depot pond. We would rush up to the two cemetery memorial sites from which we would wittiness to the 21 gun salute. Memorial Day parades never included the throwing of candy for the crowd of parade spectators. The empty shell cartridges with their smell of powder and heat was for the young men on the precipice of the Vietnam war a greater reward than any peanut butter twist or lollipop. It became ironic that some of those that once scurried for those very shells were now laid at rest where they once played and fantasied of guns and war.