Lost in a Crowd

Riding bikes behind Fire Truck in the Memorial Day Parade
Riding bikes behind Fire Truck in the Memorial Day Parade
Fire Truck in Aspinwall in the early years.
Fire Truck in Aspinwall in the early years.
Parade starts and ends on Commercial Ave.
Parade starts and ends on Commercial Ave.

The crowds were getting bigger and bigger. I was overtaken by a sense of being lost in a sea of flags and banners. Each bike that passed me was a plethora of red, white and blue streamers. I could hear the sounds of the distant band’s blaring trumpets and banging drums as the crowd’s cheering rang in my ears. All along the side of the street people were cheering and waving flags.

The truth was I no longer knew where I was and I was fast becoming lost. It seemed like the street had opened up and swallowed the other bikers who were following the band. There was nothing ahead of me except an empty street. As I peddled faster and faster to catch up, my heart was pounding faster and faster to match the speed of my wheels. Where was I? Where had the parade gone?

I could see people I didn’t recognize on the porches. They were idly enjoying the mild spring day or talking to neighbors.

The day had started out normal enough. It was Memorial Day and my Dad had spent an hour or so getting my bike ready for the parade. The Memorial Day parade in our town was the same every year.

First in line were four soldiers in uniforms carrying flags and rifles. Then there would be some policemen in uniform riding on really big horses. They were followed by what seemed like an endless line of people riding in cars which to a five year old was boring. Then the girl scouts, cub scouts and boy scouts would come along in their green, blue and brown uniforms. Then the best part of the parade would pass, the high school band, playing patriotic music.

What followed would be the fire trucks from around the neighboring towns. The last fire truck would be ours and it was the leader for what seemed like every kid in town riding a bike or a parent pulling a wagon with children waving flags.

The whole parade didn’t take a half an hour to go by but this was to be my first year to join in the festivities with the other children. Our babysitter was to walk along the sidewalk with my little brother and watch to make sure I was okay. The best laid plans of mice and men so to speak. Here I was somewhere in our town. I was sure I was heading away from my home and something in me made me turn at the next corner and keep peddling along that block. At the next corner, I turned again and started back in the opposite direction of the way I had been going. What a mess. Still nothing looked familiar to me. I was crossing over the big street onto another block when I recognized where I was. I was on my block and heading home. This was the way I would come home from kindergarten every day. What a relief I felt as each house became more and more familiar to me.

There was my Dad coming towards me. He looked angry. What had I done? "Where had I been? Why hadn’t I followed the parade route?" I had no idea where I had been and his anger confused me. I was looking for compassion for my plight but instead I was being punished for I didn’t know what. In his anger, I found out that I had been gone for over an hour and the babysitter had come home with my little brother and taken him to the park. Why wasn't she in trouble? I don’t know the answer to that to this day, but my punishment was I couldn’t go to the park and play that day. I had to stay home and think about what I had done.

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