- Contributed by Ed Rinderle -
A small boy sits excitedly on the curb bordering the main street of his town. He cranes his neck to look up the street to the intersection two blocks away. He knows that soon, from around that corner, the Parade will emerge.
As the moment approaches, he hears the sounds he’s been waiting for. Trumpets, clarinets, and other assorted instruments comprising a band. Then the band appears and swings around the corner toward him. His heart pounds: the Parade is finally here! He jumps to his feet and cheers, adding his small voice to that of the growing crowd around him.
The Parade consists of clowns, jugglers, and all manner of performers, flashing their skills for the cheering crowd. Interspersed are fancy cars containing local dignitaries waving as they pass by. But most exciting of all are the bands, strutting their stuff in their immaculate multi-colored uniforms, stepping lively in synchronized stride, and pumping out their music on drums, xylophones, and all manner of horns and woodwinds. The boy is completely captivated by the spectacle.
Too soon the Parade comes to an end. But the lad is not dismayed. He turns to walk the few blocks to his home humming some of the numbers he’s heard from the bands. He struts in imitation of the marchers. The sights and sounds of the Parade stay with him for days.
. . . .
A young man carefully dons his uniform, making sure that every button glistens, every stripe is straight, and the tassel on his hat hangs perfectly. He checks to see his face in the shine on his shoes. One more scale verifies that his clarinet is tuned to perfection. Then he joins the ranks of his fellow musicians, and soon they begin their march to the beat of the drummers. Around the corner they turn to face the cheering crowds. They begin to play, and the young man, marching as tall as his height will permit, magically fingers his clarinet and glories as its sound joins those of the instruments surrounding him. Then suddenly, without missing a beat, he turns slightly to wink at the small lad jumping and cheering at the curb beside him.
. . . .
An elderly gentleman inches up into the crowd that jams the Parade route. He strains to see if the Parade is coming around the bend. He struggles to hear the first notes of the trumpets. But the sights and sounds are dulled and there are too many people blocking his view. The band is passing by, but it seems already to have its quota of 76 trombones, 110 cornets, and over a thousand reeds. There is no need for his small voice any more. He glances down at the clarinet he has brought with him, and as he notes the crack down its side, a tear comes to his eye. But he looks up just in time to glimpse a uniformed musician, playing a clarinet for all it is worth, turn his face slightly toward him, and wink. And reflected in that wink, he sees a small boy at the curb cheering.
The old man turns to head for home. He tries to straighten the bend in his back, but his spine won’t permit it. He tries to put a strut in his step, but a limp holds him back. “What’s the use”, he mutters to himself. But then his thoughts turn to the Parade, and a young man’s wink, and the small boy sitting on the curb. Tears come again, but this time they are tears of gratitude.