Hubby and I were pleased to be asked to participate in the Fourth of July parade by riding in the Kenai Historical Society vehicle. We only had to ‘”be there” they said so I donned my big red straw hat and he his suspenders and black farmer’s hat and we went to find our ride, which proved to be a 1946 Chevrolet pickup painted a nice sunshine yellow with Kenai Historical Society banners on each side. It was attracting attention as we stood waiting, so I thought this is a shoo-in! Built in celebrity!
A candy-apple red 1956 Studebaker pickup was immediately ahead of us in the parade. It was a beauty! I visited with the owner briefly and she was very proud of her vehicle. It had been her dream for awhile, partly because she had been born in 1956. The parade was its first public journey, and she was excited. Her passengers were the Miss U.S. Agriculture Royalty: three young ladies in long dresses and tiaras. They practiced their ‘royal wave’ while we waited to begin.
Digression: When I was a teenager and the boys I knew were car crazy, candy-apple red was THE color to aim for. Vintage cars then were anything before 1940 and usually a coupe (Remember “Little Deuce Coupe?”). The guys would spend more hours primping their cars than they ever did driving. That special shine could only be attained by very vigorous buffing. They would whisper among themselves that the best and only way to achieve “the glow” was to raid mom’s closet and filch a sanitary napkin to use, glancing sideways at any female passengers, hoping we had overheard, but blushing if we did. And we would ooh and ahh at the beautiful shiny red and ask them how they did it, only to make them blush again.
The parade began more or less on time with the police car ahead, lights twirling and a couple of siren bursts. We pulled out of Trading Bay, turned left on Main Street Loop to eventually make our way past the Post Office to Willow Street. It was on Bidarka Street between the old courthouse and the day care that things changed. The Studebaker broke!
Everything stopped except the leaders. The men all jumped out of their rigs and ran to assess the problem that very soon was determined to be unfixable at the moment. They pushed the Studebaker to the side of the road so the parade could proceed.
What to do with the Agriculture Royalty? Why, jump into the next ride, of course, which was us old Fogies representing the Historical Society. Long dresses hitched to their knees and tiaras bouncing they jumped over the red tailgate, ran across the pavement in their bare feet (they’d removed their shoes in deference to the shiny flooring in the bed of the Studebaker) and climbed over the tailgate in our ride and settled easily into the yellow pickup, adjusting their skirts and their hair as they settled. A-h-h-h youth!
Turns out they really were Royalty! The young lady from Homer had just returned from representing Alaska at the National Miss U.S. Agriculture Pageant in Orlando, where she brought back the national Queen Miss award, a coup for our state. With her was Alaska’s Ms U.S. Agriculture from Soldotna and one of her princesses. They had also gone to Orlando. Alaska had been well-represented in Florida. The Miss U.S. Agriculture is less a beauty pageant, although these representatives were all that, and leans more toward educating the public about the necessity of agriculture to our society. Our parade was a fun thing in an upcoming year of seminars and speeches to forward awareness of the dependence civilization has on agriculture.
So Hubby and I — in our chairs against the cab, and three bright, colorful young ladies at the tailgate waving and smiling —took our place as first truck. Ahead of us was an energetic dance troupe; more of the Kaknu Krusers vintage vehicles followed. Needless to say, dynamics had changed.
We smiled and waved, as did the Royalty. We hadn’t practiced our royal wave, but came through without carpal tunnel pain. Everyone will remember Fourth of July, 2019 as the hottest on record, I’m sure. We were very happy for our hats as the sun beat down like never before on a parade in Kenai.
I’m not sure anyone noticed the old guys in the yellow Chevy. They probably wondered why the Agriculture Queens were in the Historical Society vehicle, as the banners on the side of the bed proclaimed. Our fifteen minutes of fame lasted about that, although we were recognized by a few friends along the way, and family waved and cheered, and pointed questioningly at our passengers.
That night when I brought up Facebook for a look at the parade, there was the yellow pickup, front and center with the caption “Agriculture Royalty Ride.” Fifteen minutes might be stretching it a little!
• By VIRGINIA WALTERS for the Peninsula Clarion