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Double Life of a Little Girl.....THE CALLIOPE QUEEN

Updated on March 10, 2013


Because I am writing some of this out of sequence, I’ll “wrap up” the Beatles segment and then jump back a few years to my fond memory of being a "star!" Well, for a little while, anyway!

The Beatles DID see our enormous sign, by the way. We were among those featured in a San Francisco newspaper article which placed the photo on the front page, above the fold and on the right side! It stated that the Fab Four enjoyed seeing all the banners the fans had made. There we were, on either end of our heartfelt message, with beaming smiles amid the other well wishers. It was great!


There were moments of family memories which bring a smile to my face, laughter and tears to my eyes. Following is a story of us when we were still all together. I was about 7 or 8 when I was “lucky “enough to be in the limelight for an instant during that tender, young age.

Always wanting to be more than his immigrant parents; have more, do more and be recognized for this; father's every effort was to achieve just that. He was known throughout our county as the ‘go to’ man when it came to arranging events, gathering support for causes, getting volunteers for any number of needs, and, in essence, acting as the official City Greeter to visitors and VIP’s. He flourished in this role; always dead center if not just to the “right” of all the attention focused on an event, a visiting personality, or parade as well as playing a key role in philanthropic efforts for the needy and less well off. He loved to be in the spot light; loved adulation and attention; and he blossomed when in a position of both; being needed as well as garnering adoration.

At this point in time, my parents were on shaky ground but still holding together. We put our best ‘family face’ forward for our small community to see and for ourselves, too. By now, my father’s efforts to be the biggest fish in this small pond had taken hold and this meant he was even more involved in activities and events which further promoted his personal agenda as well as his social climbing.

Because of his activities and the broad spectrum in which he gave of himself, he was asked to be the Grand Marshall for two consecutive years in the annual County Fair parade which took place on the last Sunday of the fair’s running schedule. This parade was the event of the summer! Everyone in town showed up to line the streets as the proud procession proceeded down Main street to First Street as it followed a circuitous route throughout our downtown area. Included in the parade were musicians, high school sports heros, clowns, balloons, baton twirlers, unusual and odd vehicles, lots of floats depicting the fair theme of a particular year, local law enforcement officers with their cruisers, fire fighters in huge, red fire engines and horses, etc. It was a typical small town mobile celebration of itself!


Well, being the Grand Marshall meant that my father was honored with first place in front of all the rest of the participants. Riding in an open vehicle, he waved to the crowd who yelled out his name, called to him with funny remarks amid lots of smiles and laughter. My mother sat dutifully beside him looking beautiful and demure. She wore a slight smile on her face as she endured yet another of the many public appearances sought by and required of my father.

There was another perk for being in this revered and respected role! And this benefit was bestowed on my brother and me; his children.

Big Brother played piano wonderfully well! He was a natural! Still is! And he was able to use his God given talent to show off and perform ! Following the shiny convertible car in which my parents rode, was a huge wagon, drawn by horses, in which was elevated, high above the crowd, a calliope! A Steam Organ! This instrument is designed somewhere between a piano and an organ. It has pipes similar to those of an organ but sounds rather clinky-clangy; much as you would expect in a parade of this sort, in a town like ours was, during a time some 50 years ago!

Brother proudly sat on the stool facing the calliope, clanking away as we moved slowly down the streets of our small town. And this is where I come in.


Being one of Mr. Personalities’ kids, I got to sit in front of the wagon, high, high up, looking pretty in my very itchy, very hot and very uncomfortable lacey, tight, frilly dress! Because the fair took place in August; the hottest month of the year, and because we were out in the sun during the entire thing, I found myself completely physically irritated as I tried to keep a smile on my face while waving to the onlookers as if I were Queen Elizabeth!

OUCH! It was excruciating! Made of “starchy, stiff” material like Polyester and taffeta, the frock was a nightmare right in the middle of the day! But, the show must go on and I knew, if I appeared or acted the way I was actually feeling, I would disappoint both my brother; who was pounding away at the keys which sent shock waves of resounding reverberations through my ears and into my brain! - and my father who always put appearance above everything else.

So, like a good little sister and a dutiful daughter, I sat in the high seat, sweating, itching, squirming, and finding it hard to breath as the already snug, frilly, lacy scratchy dress was growing even more so!

This wasn’t even the worst of it, either. Did I mention that by this time, I was shy to the point of being debilitated? Having always been a ‘bookworm’ who preferred spending most of the time alone with my reading fantasies, my favorite and only companion, Snikelfritz the cat, by my side; playing the part of the Calliope Queen was just a little more than challenging!

It was getting hard to breathe for several reasons! The heat was playing with my perceptions which were already skewed due to my being an introverted child and this wasn’t being at all helped by my brother's efforts which created a wave of heavy jackhammer like vibrations which were penetrating my skull to the point of nausea! Oh.. but this show Must go on.. I Had to be a happy camper, Should be a good sport.. all wrapped up in one very heated, anguished and ill at ease little girl!

So, keeping that in my child’s mind, I tried my best to hide my discomfort as our little parade wound its way towards the final destination.


Once we survived trial by fire and burning sun, our little small town celebration ended up at the local fairgrounds in the rodeo arena. Once again, before the scheduled events were to begin, we were placed front and center; corralled in the middle of the dusty, wind blown hastily built wood stage so that everyone could stare at us as we stood there in all our glory! I couldn’t stand it! This was too much! And, for a little girl who hadn’t yet developed a sense of modesty, I proceeded to try to disrobe, right there in the arena, before all the people crowded in the stands! My father and mother kept nudging me as they attempted to control my increasingly agitated state. Try as they might, I just couldn’t stand it any longer…I had to get that darn dress Off!!! The more they tried to curb my efforts, the harder I resisted.

So, right there for all to see, I “danced” around that hot, dusty, windy sun soaked platform, animated to the point of almost hysteria. Desparately trying to tug and pull at the unyielding fabric, my failure to get that annoying thing off me only served to increase my frustration level 100 fold.

We were supposed to act dignified! We were supposed to be quiet as my father received his accolades for all the fabulous things he’d done throughout the year for his home town. We were supposed to be the perfect children of the perfect father in our perfect little town.


Not if I had anything to do with it! At this point, my brother was beginning to get mad at me, too. I was blowing his 15 minutes of fame. How could he garner any of the compliments and recognition due him if his little sister was stealing the scene? And stealing it, I was!


I began to cry as my gyrations escalated. People were starting to notice the commotion on stage. Laughter rose from the crowd as the unexpected entertainment commenced. Humility and embarrassment flew out the window as necessity became first and foremost in my young mind. I wasn’t at all aware of anything except getting that horrible garment off my body! Now! By this time, father, mother, brother and a few other adults were involved ! As waves of laughter filled the air, my family led me from the stage, out of the rodeo arena and into the car…where I had to sit and wait..for what seemed like HOURS while sanity was restored, important players took their rightful places and the scheduled expressions (exultations) of praise and admiration carried on…..

And I still had that cursed rag on!

Stay tuned for more of the escapades, foibles and experiences of the double life of a young girl.


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    • profile image

      Karcy 3 years ago

      You get a lot of respect from me for writing these helpful arltsiec.

    • profile image

      Geralyn 3 years ago

      When you think about it, that's got to be the right anrswe.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi there LDC! This is such a vivid memory for if yesterday. Long suffering little sister of my big brother; the star of our family. Still is...thank you for the kind comment which I sincerely appreciate.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      I can imagine yourself stealing the act from your brother. Your narrative is strong and 'suave' at the right timing. I can't believe you were a charming cute little dad's girl. Well you still are. Nice to be surprised by your wonderful hubs that took us back in time. Maria could've been pleased as well going back with us. Thanks Kathie!

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Martie, i love the way you are able to relate to this was so excruciating wearing that damned dress...and having to 'behave!' "Oh...behave..." making a scene was out of the question but, in the end, I just could NOT help myself. Yes, we had loads of fun as kids..mixed with lots of really insane, irregular and weird stuff, too. I am glad Mr. AAZ's hub has acted as a conduit...bringing my favorite friends here...I am severely bereft in catching up with so many fanrtastic, included. I just sit down long enough to catch up, too...I tend to 'hit and run' in my online visits between "real" life callings...I am very fortunate and appreciative. thank you for yet another amazing comment, dear Martie. Kathy

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Kathy, thanks to A.A. Zavala's tribute to you, I've just enjoyed this hub of yours tremendously and plan to read the rest a.s.a.p. Though I'm following you for many months now I have not taken the time to catch up with your older posts and so glad now for the opportunity presented by AAZ.

      I could see a lot of my own father in yours and I assumed you mother must have been an introvert like mine, hating every minute in the limelight. I could see myself in your brother and my younger sister in you.

      I was 5 when I was a flower-girl for an aunt of mine and I still remember the tutu-kind of a dress of hard chiffon and lace irritating the living daylight out of me. On top of this I was mad because my dress was blue and my cousin's yellow and I wanted the yellow one. I was so-so naughty, refused to co-operate, waved my umbrella in the air while I was supposed to be lady-like like my cousin. I still have photo's proving my rebellious acts. Anyway, point is, I did not mind being in the limelight, I was simply discontented because nothing suited me. I guess when it comes to little (and big) girls, introverts and extroverts can throw their dolls out of their prams in the same way and just because they hate the situation (dress) they are in. Lol!

      This was really a most enjoyable read. I'll be back to read the rest.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hello Docmo. I'm glad you like my writing. this story is so true to life that it still itches! Now, I want to visit your writing so that I can become familiar with you. Thank you for commenting so kindly.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 6 years ago from UK

      Lucky Cats, what a delightful little tale of childhood memory. What stands out for me is the way to weave the story, full of colours, sounds, smells and *yes* the itchy/scratchiness! I could see it all as if it were a film. You are a terrific writer and I am going to go and read some more. I am glad I followed the trail from Amy's poem after reading your delightful comments.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Alastar the "Captain" of All he surveys! Thank you ever so! (Who spoke like that??) Really, I love the way you see the totality of my, and others' work. There always is more than the eye can see and 'secrets' and information which can only be read between the lines. You must possess the 'how to' manual for such an insightful ability and evaluation. Thank you my HP's friend!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Clingy- clangy may be the sound of a Calliope but the sound of this marvelous reminiscence is only heard in the higher realms. And the best is yet to come. You possess a magic that takes one into a wonder-world of joy and sometimes sadness... whatever life experience's you choose to reveal. I'll be reading this one again like the rest.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Vietnam happy you stopped by and read this crazy really did happen just as described...I just hated that damn thing!

      Eiddwen...such a nice comment. So appreciated. Specially from you. thank you thank you!!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      A great hub which I loved from beginning to end.

      thanks for sharing yet again another gem !!

      Take care and I push all buttons here as always.


    • vietnamvet68 profile image

      vietnamvet68 6 years ago from New York State

      What a great and memorable story Kathy.

      God Bless

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh Epigramman, Eman..Colin! What an honor and thrill. I really have no words wonderful enough to communicate just how pleased and humbled I am by your incredible support. It really does mean the world to me..because ..well, just because. You have made me feel a part of something wonderful...a circle of friends here who truly do regard one another in a special accepting way and this is a gift beyond which words can describe. I feel I belong. What a great feeling this is, my friend, Mr. Colin Stewart! Bless you!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..I do so very much enjoy your writing - and this piece was absolutely fabulous (I adored your piece on the Beatles) write so very well and I place you so high up on the Hub pedestal (along with another great one - Amy Becherer) .....if you look at my opening profile at my hubpage - you will see a pleasant surprise, I think you really deserve a wider/bigger audience - your words your mind - always give any reader a most pleasurable and rewarding hub experience .....

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Sharyn....another childhood "star!" Wow! Fun memories, huh? I am so glad you still have the newspaper feature. I wish I had mine...I bet my older brother does! I'll have to ask because, I do remember seeing a picture of him sitting up there plunking away at the WAS hard on my little ears at the time because I sat right in front of the pipes! I hope you enjoyed this; the memory makes me laugh out loud as only one who went through it would understand. I can see, so clearly, standing on that stage and trying to yank that dress off by the puffy, itchy and tight sleeves! Thank you for such great words of support!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Kathy,

      I continue to enjoy your story and your awesome writing. While reading this piece, I kept thinking of the time when I was six and had my picture taken while I was sitting on a fire truck (after a city parade). It made the front page of the local newspaper. Just that alone, was such a huge deal to my family. No one had ever been in the paper before. I still have copies of the clip and it's fun to look back.

      Keep up the great work . . .


    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Marcoujor, glad you liked this really was like that; I can still feel that itchy, tight and irritating dress..I was laughing on my knees writing this..I hope it makes everyone laugh as they imagine it...we all need to laugh! So happy to see you here and so thankful for your comment!

      WallStickerDecals! Hello! Welcome to my wacky world. Thank you for visiting!

      Sundaynews, thank you for visiting and your nice comment! Yes, it was that itchy! I have to visit your and WSD's sites...always so good to meet writers here.

    • sundaynews profile image

      sundaynews 7 years ago from Tampa, FL

      I would love to see the Beattles banner. Sorry about that hot, scratchy dress. You described it very well. I could almost feel it myself.

    • WallStickerDecals profile image

      WallStickerDecals 7 years ago from US

      Love your hub that much!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 7 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Lucky Cats,

      I especially loved your subtitles, like "All is not as it seems". This was a wonderful continuation in your story, my friend. I loved your physical and symbolic drive to shed the dress...

      Voted Up & Awesome! Thank you, mar.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      AA...I'm working on that for you......oh, first, let me ask; are dogs' ear mites similar to cats'? Wait, oh yes, I believe they are...ok...working on that; it'll take a moment or more..

      Seriously, thank you so much for your continued support and kind comments. You know, I've been searching for old pictures; I've found several (in the hub about my little brother), but very few which are applicable to this one. I'll keep searching...

      Always Exploring; I am always so pleased to see you here. I have such respect for your poetic ability and wonderful way with words; that your presence is a + for me. Thank you so much!

      Chatkath, you crazy cat lady! Don't tell anyone know that "thing" you suggested..well, I have been thinking about it....don't say anything; don't want to jinx it!! Really, though...thinking this is possible means the world to me; it's like a "critic" or publisher saying; "hey, give me a rough draft..."

      We must find a way for you and your beloved babies to come back to the SF Bay area..I'm thinking about it...what would you need? Apartment? Small home? Large home? Have to be in SF or can it be, maybe 50 miles radius? Have to put on my "thinking cap." So so happy, always, to see you and have your supportive comments! Kathy the crazy Cat Lady, too

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Amy, the more I read your work and learn of your family and history, the more I see how similar we are and our experiences are. My grandmother and, to a certain extent, my mother both were spendthrifts, too. My grandmother never threw away something if she thought there might be a future use for it. This caused her to appear to be a 'pack rat' or 'hoarder,' even during a time when 'hoarding' wasn't a commonly used term. She saved everything. "You might want to use that, don't throw it away, it's still good." Familiar and often heard words. My mother lived very frugally and did not enjoy the fruits of her labor, either. She was an astute business women (real estate) and always came out ahead; having retired (I told you previously, pretty sure..)at an early age but did not live the life she could have/should..'saving it for another day." "Saving it for 'good.' " Families directly effected by harsh times. So, here we are, independent and self made women trying to make sense of it all on so many levels....yikes!

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from California

      Kathy, this is really an adorable story, I can feel your emotions as you talk about these memories, and they are very vivid memories indeed :-) I still think it is imperative to put this together as a book some day, even if you want to start with an EBook - maybe using your favorites.

      I know it's so much work but I think you would enjoy the result. (Yeah I know, the cats will help)

      My brother & I were on the Bozo and Mayor Art Show (in SF) I think I was probably about the same age (see I can't even remember - the dementia has set in) But these are all the little mini stories that make our lives, all the dysfunctional relatives, escapades, etc.

      Love it Lots!

      Your Cat Comrade, Kathy ^-^

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I would like pictures too. I enjoyed reading your story. Thank you for sharing. Your Father reminds me of my Uncle Jimmy, Who had the gift of gab, and could get the job done.


    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 7 years ago from Texas

      I, like Amy, admire your talent for sharing a story. And I, like Amy, itched like hell while reading your predicament while wearing that dress. However, unlike Amy, I started scratching my back at work with a metal ruler, making sounds like a dog with ear mites. I'm still itching now. Can you write a hub about soothing pseudo itchiness? Stat!

      Awesome story, very enthralling. I would love to see pictures from your past and childhood also. Thank you for sharing.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      As always, Kathy, you offer such insight. Yes, my mother is very sensitive and it adds to her beauty. She was affected very much by the Great Depression and even though my dad left her with no financial worries, she lives almost like a refugee. Hot in the house during the summer and cold enough you need a jacket in the winter. I admire conservation, and green living, but she will take a bag of spuds back if one is bad to get a whole new bag. She uses coupons, which is fine, but she could kick back a bit as she is in her 80's and recently found she has a serious heart problem. I worry that she will never fully enjoy life as she worries so much. I can only control my own life, however, and know and respect that this is her way. I want you to know, Kathy, that I do respect and listen to your ideas. You are the inspiration for my entering a contest. And, I am thinking about putting a book together of my poetry. Although, I am writing content articles, it is so low pay I could never subsist on the earnings. It is extremely time consuming and, as such, I am exploring other avenues for writing. It is good experience, however, and the time is not lost. Thank you for your continuing support and especially your friendship. I value you, my friend.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Amy! As I read your comment, I imagined what it must have been like to grow up in such an environment. My experience was small town America but not like the colorful area of your childhood. Yes, our families sound very very similar. My father, who came from humble beginnings, never wanted to admit that or return to such a life. To his last months on earth, he still played the role of the man about town, the center of his friends' socializing and activities. Your mother sounds so sensitive; and I'm so sorry that her later years are colored by the past; her father's alcoholism. And, here's another similarity; my grandfather on my mother's side was an alcoholic, too! He died about a month before I was born; I never knew him. But, his affliction caused great strife and, even though they were successful in business in Oklahoma before the Great Depression, his weakness played a significant role in later years; becoming more and more difficult for my grandmother to handle. She never remarried; my uncle became alcoholic and the rest of my mother's 4 other siblings all had addiction issues of one kind or another. What a crazy bunch!

      I always am so happy to see that you've visited my efforts here on hubpages...and that, Amy, you are such an inspiration; your talent and your honesty are is amazing, too, just how many beautiful people are here..maybe it has something to do with wanting to communicate as we all do. Hope your new work is doing well for you...but, do keep in mind, Amy....that your talent can take you to the just need to find that vehicle to promote your work! Kathy

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I saw "Calliope" and couldn't wait to read your story, Lucky Cats. I grew up in a home situated on the Mississippi bluffs and everyday of every summer, I heard "The Admiral" make it's trip past the bluffs with it's calliopie playing. I still equate the excitement of summer vacation with that sound. Your story puts a whole new spin on the sound of the calliope! You are an incredibly gifted storyteller, Kathy, as I "itched" my way through this amazing childhood adventure. I swear I could see you, overheated, painfully shy, and overwhelmed. I was worried about you, still encased in the misery of that dress, in the heat of a car, as you waited for your family for your return trip home.

      Once again, your story brought back memories of stories my mother told me about her years growing up. Her dad, too, was a well respected, intelligent, handsome, charismatic businessman who headed the "Red Feather', now The Red Cross organization. He was an alcoholic, though functional, he managed to lose every job opportunity he'd landed. She, too, suffered a nomadic, unpredictable lifestyle as a beautiful, but, painfully shy girl. To this day, she cries when she retells the stories of her adventures in being constantly on the move, having to be separated as a family in living with various relatives, feeling she was a burden and her shame, leaving her so shy, it relegated her to silence. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Kathy, as it gives me better insight into not only your life, but my mother's feelings during her formative years. I continue to look forward to each and every one of your journeys in becoming the wonderful gem of a soul that you are, Lucky Cats.

    • We Save Cats profile image

      We Save Cats 7 years ago from SE Kansas

      well done, Kath. I am lmao. I can just see it. This is funny


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