the best of the best
Next week, Yours truly, will face the ultimate test, the most solemn obligation a Record columnist will ever assume: to continue a decades-old tradition of calling the last Old Settlers Day “the best.” all time “.
The series of superlatives used by the Ol ‘Thing and its various Ol’ editors extend far beyond the distant date of the last Old Settlers parade that I was able to watch live and in person.
From the early ’60s, I couldn’t see the parade because I was a part of it – riding a school float, dragging a reluctant animal, carrying a sousaphone with the college or high school orchestra, and later sit on hay bales with classmates returning for meetings.
From the 70s to the 10s, I was only able to come back for some of these meetings. My Saturdays were more spent playing in a college band, teaching or editing the news elsewhere.
Last year, when I was temporarily sheltered here and taught remotely on the first pandemic tour, I was going to have my first chance since I was 10 to see the parade as a spectator. Then COVID started to get worse, as it still does this fall, and last year’s event was called off.
Although I have retired from teaching since then, I still won’t have my chance this year as I will ride with my 50th anniversary classmates in this year’s ‘best parade ever’.
But will it really be the “best of all time”?
The pandemic has doubled the number of classes likely to show up for this year’s event. Classes ending in one and six will be joined by classes ending in zero and five, whose meetings last year were delayed.
This would be a clear indicator of the ‘best ever’, except that a good number of classes may find attendance scarce as the pandemic has not loosened its grip and many people, especially the elderly. other states remain wisely reluctant to attend large gatherings unless they mask themselves.
We expect a return engagement from the Rube Band – a clear point for “best of all time” – and at least a normal amount of “I bet you don’t remember who I am” from awkward introductions among people who haven’t seen each other for decades. yet I think they are instantly recognizable.
On the flip side, we’ll have quite a few spray-painted cardboard floats and towel-stuffed chicken wire, a staple of the old-fashioned parade, and we won’t see multiple bands. Even the Marion high school will not be represented. His group, for years one of his hallmarks of excellence, is in a period of reconstruction – as, apparently, his football team.
Still, if the community manages to get by without infecting dozens on the heels of Hillsboro and Marion who both host arts and crafts fairs, the grade awarded by this professor emeritus will have to include an A for effort and a nickname of “best ever”.
After all, it’s not the marching bands, floats, soccer games, children’s games, lunches, or recognition ceremonies in the park that make Old Settlers Day what it is. It is the people and their endlessly diverse hopes, dreams, accomplishments and memories, all inexorably linked to a shared childhood in a community that nurtured these qualities.
The best place I have seen deserves nothing less than another Old Settlers “best ever.” Let’s all do everything we can to make sure that happens, even if that just chills off the ‘bet you don’t know who I am’ reintroductions.
Meanwhile, enjoy “Best of All Time” status by letting this week’s advertisers know how much you appreciate their involvement in the community.
Looking through the list of advertisers in this week’s newspaper, it’s pretty easy to spot which local businesses are owned or run by people whose love for the community dates back to school days here.
Normally, ads sell goods and services. This week you get a glimpse of who’s not just here to make money, but more importantly, supporting the community. Let them know you’ve noticed.
– ERIC MEYER