Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday Morning in America

It bears repeating that but for the presence of my son here on a full-time basis, I would never have given a moment's thought to spending a week's vacation in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Other than when I ran up here for the occasional escapade with my college crew from Boulder a lifetime ago, no discernible reason exists for me to be here. Prior to spending any time here these past few days it always struck me as the type of place where the coast-to-coasters do not look down upon as they pass overhead at 37,000 feet.

While I have no intentions of relocating 1800 miles west of my home, I appreciate now what I did not 96 hours ago, which is that this really is one hell of a little place. Bearing in mind we are in this state's capital city, we spent a couple of hours yesterday lining the parade route for the Tuesday edition of the Cheyenne Frontiers Day parade. Margaret, Joe and I stood or sat at the curb line adjacent to the Federal building and one block south of the State building that is residence to both houses of Wyoming's Legislature and its Governor. Here is an exercise for fellow Garden Staters: go sit down at the curbside in our state's capital in the same general area and let me know how that works out for you. Or simply leave me the contact information for your next-of-kin, whichever you think is easier.

It was at first a chilly morning but as the sun established its dominance over the clouds, it warmed up nicely. We had an unobstructed view of the action - as did the other thousands of folks who lined the avenues along the parade route. Out here in the middle, there is indeed no pushing or shoving for position.

And for however long the parade lasted, we had a picture window's view into small town America. The parade included high school marching bands, clowns in miniature cars, men riding old-time bicycles and numerous Old West-themed floats. Corny? On some level I suppose it would have been - had it felt for a moment as if the parade's participants were manufacturing enthusiasm or excitement for what they were doing for the benefit of the tourists like me at route-side. It felt that way exactly not at once during the entirety of the morning.

My time in Cheyenne thus far has revealed to me that not only is this a moderate-sized, modern city wrapped around the heart of an old frontier town but that those who live here are significantly less jaded (while seeming to be no more or less economically advantaged) than those of us who live in the Garden State Plaza (and 1000 other Malls) State. Yesterday, all along the parade route all who were seated stood - and applauded in unison - when the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in uniform marched past. We repeated the exercise when the float carrying the families of Wyoming National Guard troops presently in our nation's service rolled by. This is a part of America where folks stand and applaud the selfless acts of others and where, no matter where you are and what you are doing at a public event (such as a ball game or the PBR), you stand fast and face the flag during the singing of the National Anthem.

Utopia? Not close -but then again if Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo could not find the perfect place in spite of the several years' worth of Saturday mornings they spent looking then what shot does a mere mortal have. I like where I live a great deal and still I recognize that my postal code and that of Utopia have not yet intersected on the horizon line.

I do not usually spend my Tuesday mornings lining a parade route and I reasonably anticipate that economic realities will not soon allow for such a modification in my day-to-day. But it does a soul good to do it - or anything that requires you to slow down and absorb all that is going on around you - every now and again. For you know not what you miss until you open your eyes and look around you.


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