To Everything, There Is A Season
A fiftysomething nurse and writer recalls a moment in the late 1960s, when homecoming parades and perfect fall afternoons were highlights of small-town American life. It was a time before our high-school football heroes went to Vietnam.....and before our collective innocence was completely lost. Hop in the back of a pickup truck and come along for a ride down the middle of Main Street, USA.Maybe it's just a quirk of mine, but I’ve always associated certain songs with seasons of the year. I’m not just talking about Christmas or Easter music; I mean songs that call to mind a particular time in my life or a scene from the past….like The Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn!, which will always be reminiscent of the fall of 1968.
I was not quite ten back then, but the country was ablaze with unrest that filtered down even to us small-town kids. That was the year of the Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations; of the violence at the Democratic National Convention; of Vietnam War protests and lava lamps and some of the most incredible music of the times.
It was a crisp, clear October afternoon when the annual Homecoming parade was held; the skies were so blue you could practically swim in them, and the brilliant red and gold trees stood out in glorious contrast. Since this was the biggest event of the year in our neck of the woods, everyone from kindergarten all the way up to high-school seniors got out of classes to attend, and we gathered on the sidewalks of Main Street with our teachers and other school employees to enjoy the spectacle.
Homecoming was pretty much like all small-town parades; there were horses and clowns and teenaged girls waving to the crowds from flower-bedecked floats. There were apple-cheeked cheerleaders and football players riding in the back of pickup trucks, chanting team anthems at the tops of their voices, as the drill team was striving to stay in formation while avoiding the horse droppings. Proud parents clapped and called out to their sons and daughters, and we younger kids goggled at our high-school heroes even as we wished fervently for the day when it would finally be OUR turn to take center stage.
Then, as the middle school band played the last off-key strains of the Alma Mater, the parade announcer put on a recording of Turn! Turn! Turn! over the loudspeakers and cranked up the volume.
The song is actually Chapter 3 of the book of Ecclesiastes set to music; most readers over a certain age are probably familiar with the lyrics. What I recall most keenly about this moment in time was the sense that no matter how messed-up the world seemed to be then, it would come out all right in the end. How could it not be okay, especially on a spectacular fall day with the town’s best and brightest on display for all to behold?
Forty-five years later, I can trace the end of my innocence back to the months and years that followed. The war continued; some of our heroes went to Vietnam, and most came home changed by what they saw ‘in country’. And sadly, a few never came home at all.
I moved away as well after I graduated eight years later; now, there are times when I wish with all my heart that I could go back and live out the remainder of my life in my old hometown. However, I know that it has moved on just like the rest of us…..even though both that day and that song will be forever suspended in time, like a pebble in amber.
A time to be born, a time to die,
a time to dance, a time to mourn,
a time to kill, a time to heal,
a time to laugh, and a time to weep.
Such are my thoughts on a chilly fall evening as the smell of pumpkin bread baking fills the house, and the trees outside my picture window turn to gold.Last edit by Joe V on Oct 10, '13
About VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN
VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. From 'The Great Northwest'; 55 Years Old; Joined Sep '02; Posts: 25,266; Likes: 36,785.2Oct 9, '13 by EMSnut45, ADN, RN, EMT-PI do the same!! Sometimes it's just the music I'm listening to at the time and other times it's specific songs because of the lyrics.
- Bruce Springsteen: The Rising album -- time after 9/11/01 and the many emotions it brought
- Nickelback: Silver Side Up album and Five for Fighting: America Town album-- time around my parents divorce
- Five for Fighting: The Battle for Everything album and the song "Christmas Shoes" by Newsong (from the movie) -- the death of a close family friend leaving two young kids without a mother3Oct 13, '13 by mc3Barry McGuire singing "Eve of Destruction" sticks in my mind. I remember watching the TV news each night and seeing the daily body count listed for the Vietnam war - how horrible it all was.....
mc3Last edit by mc3 on Oct 13, '13 : Reason: wrong singer!