Grapevine by Rosalyn Queen Alonso
The next holiday we will be observing will be Memorial Day. It was once referred to as Decoration Day, but that name has been changed. The holiday is always observed on the last Monday of May…this year being May 29. In 1865 after the Civil War, a group of ladies gathered to honor the men who had served and gave their lives in the war. Their goal was to decorate the graves of each of these individuals…hence, the name Decoration Day. After several wars and many lost lives, it was declared a federal holiday and its name changed to Memorial Day. It was to be a day to remember those individuals who died while serving in the Armed Forces.
This holiday is referred to as the beginning of summer and we will find most of the parks and pools opening on this day for the summer. It is also a time when many plan picnics or travel to their summer cabins located in many of our state parks. It is also a time when many families start their vacations to parts unknown. Many of our school children, especially our college kids, will start summer jobs that will help them save money for school next year.
Now having said that, let’s get back to Memorial Day. I want to share a few memories of Memorial Day in my young life. As a small girl, I always helped my parents and grandmother gather flowers and arrange them in pots and get them ready for the grave yards. Although we never had a family member die in the service of our country, we always visited those members of our family who were laid to rest in the local grave yards. Sixty five years ago we were not fortunate enough to have artificial flowers, so we had to collect any live flowers that were in bloom, to make arrangements. We would go around the neighborhood collecting fresh flowers from our neighbors who were willing to share them with us. I especially remember Miss Mattie, a black lady who lived in the neighborhood and who had her home surrounded with rose bushes. She was always so kind as to supply us with many flowers.
Many graves were decorated with the flowers from her garden. We would get the arrangements ready on the day before, making sure they were in containers that would hold a lot of water to keep the flowers fresh. On
“Decoration Day” we would get up early, load the flowers in my dad’s car, and take off for the grave yard. We would spend several hours placing the flowers, maybe saying a little prayer, and listening to stories we were told about the deceased person.
Once this job was completed, we hurried home to get ready for a trip to the closest picnic ground (usually Audrey Park) where we enjoyed a day of swimming and picnicking. Memorial Day also brings back memories
of my mother’s delicious picnic lunches of fried chicken, potato salad and chocolate cake…all home made from her kitchen.
I urge you to revive the memories of Memorial Day and to especially pay tribute to those lost service men. Many things have changed and you will not go around the neighborhood collecting fresh flowers, but you will probably buy artificial arrangements that will last most of the summer. There will still be stories to be told and I hope you will listen to them, as you may not get the opportunity to hear them again. Your mother will probably not spend the morning in the kitchen preparing the picnic lunch; she will pick up a bucket of chicken and all the additions at a local store.
Remember to observe this holiday and all that it means. With the world in the turmoil it is in, it makes us realize just how much we owe to these individuals.
Be sure to make plans to attend the Route Fifty Yard Sale in Clarksburg on Saturday; you may just find that something that you have been looking for and it will probably be real cheap. For more information, call Tammy at 304-624-6881.
Be sure to get your reservation in for the Women of Distinction luncheon to be held on Friday, June 2 at the PWA on Washington Avenue. Ten great women will be honored.
Keep safe and until next week “Now You Have Heard It Through The Grapevine.”