Every year during the final weekend in September my town holds its town festival, Museum Days, celebrating the life of that actor, who was the only one from here to got more than the Warholian fifteen minutes of fame. Over the years the festival has also evolved into a celebration of the 1950’s, during which was the whole of that actor’s career.
The festival itself came out of our town’s museum, which in turn came about in the mid-1970’s to preserve the memorabilia of the old high school. That stuff had been stored under the school’s auditorium stage; but when the auditorium was sealed off as unsafe in the early 1970’s, some of the townsfolk came together to save the memorabilia. Those townsfolk became the first board of the Fairmount Historical Museum. It bought an apartment block that was once the home of a prominent town doctor and remodeled it to hold the memorabilia from the school and later of the actor who graduated from that school.
From my perspective the festival means I cannot go downtown except if I want something there, like an elephant ear. An elephant ear is a deep-fried crepe smeared with butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. It is very messy but very tasty. I usually find among the numerous food vendors at least two who make these. There are lots of other vendors there as well, selling everything from kitschy trinkets to T-shirts to replica ninjatô.
Another thing I do during the festival is help with the book sale held by the Friends of the Library. For this sale we get most of the group’s money, which is used to assist the library in its outreach programs like the summer reading program for kids. I usually help during Saturday afternoon, so I end up missing most of the big parade that passes by the museum on its way to the park.
The book sale is held in a tent in front of the library, as in past years. It was supposed to be held in the current library building itself after we were to have moved to the new library this month. But delays in getting an Internet connection for the new building and in getting parts for the book stacks shelving meant a delay of at least one month.
The festival tends to disrupt my weekly schedule, as I had to speed my routine to get it out of the way for the weekend. I found I need not have bothered.
I had planned to mow my lawn on Thursday evening, and do my laundry on Friday. Usually it would be the other way around, except I wanted to get the outdoor stuff out of the way before the Festival starts. But I had to help my sister the teacher lay out yellow tape to ward off people from parking in front of her house. (She lives only a block from the park, where the car show is held.) Then I had to go to the folks’ house to confirm that it was they who drove through my back yard (more on this below). By the time I was done, the sun had gone down, so I decided to resume my regular routine, and do the mowing first thing Friday morning.
Friday was the first day of the festival. All I have seen of it was in the early morning after I mowed my lawn. Then, just after nine, the vendors were either closed or just setting up shop. I had business at the bank at that time. After that I walked down Main Street, which was already closed off. There was the book sale tent with the banner in big red letters. There was also the screen and the bleachers in the parking lot of the new library.
Later I had to leave town for a doctor’s appointment. After that I visited a Petsmart store to get a proper scratching post for my cat Isis. I bought her a carpeted platform on a post wrapped in sisal rope a couple of weeks ago. It did not work out: The post turned out to be too short for her; the platform was in her way, so she could not reach the post; and she did not know what to do with the thing. So I foisted the platform on my sister the teacher (who has cats small enough to appreciate the platform) and got another.
My folks visited my house while I was at work to borrow a floor fan. Madre could not find the fan: It was in my closet. In leaving Padre managed to freak out my neighbors by driving his little silver convertible through my back yard. I found the tire tracks in the thick grass when I came home, and learned from one of the neighbors how they got there. I would have returned them the fan in any case, as I have found over the summer that the furnace fan and registers are as good as five fans. Anyway, they got their fan back Friday afternoon.
In the evening I walked to the book sale to see how it was doing. It was doing well for a Friday. I bought a couple of books: A book of phrase origins, and one called How To Deal With A Neurotic Cat.
This morning I walked down to the Methodist Church, where they have their annual public breakfast. They serve scrambled eggs, biskets and gravy, sausage, pancakes and juice or coffee for six dollars. It is worth the longer walk, and I get to see people I usually do not see the rest of the year.
The afternoon was spent at the sales table of the book sale. Saturday was the bag sale, where you could fill up a shopping bag full of books for five dollars. We had a lot of people come in, look around, and full bags of books they wanted to read. As the sales from Thursday and Friday were enough to pay for the tent, the Friends of the Library made all profit from the sales of those bags.
The parade started at two, but I had to watch it from the table, which was positioned so that whoever sat there could see the parade from the big color screen at the new library parking lot. The rest of the time the screen displayed cars at the auto show in the park.
I left the sale to get more shopping bags from my house, as well as some books I no longer wanted. I found myself locked out; went to the folks for a spare set of keys; found myself conversing with my sister’s classmate from her Purdue days on his Linux setup (he was trying to boot Linux from what turned out to be a bad external hard drive); got back into my house for the bags and books; and made it back to the sale. It was not so much the time but the distance: Two miles total. And I grabbed an elephant ear on the way back.
Later I left to eat Madre’s chili before returning around eight to help close the sales tent.
Nothing for me on Sunday but eat Sunday dinner with the folks, my sisters, my niece and her guest Kimie.
I stayed at the house for an hour after dinner because the cleanup at the book sale tent was at two. I found an old travelogue that I used to read as a kid, with two thousand pictures of places to visit throughout the country and throughout the world. The book dates from the 1950’s: Back then some of those places, like Ceylon/Sri Lanka and Africa could be visited. The pictures of places in the USA are quaint: The Indianapolis 500 was raced with cars that look like they were built for a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby; and Purdue’s Hovde Hall was called the Executive Building. But the pictures of the arches at Arches National Monument (now Park) are as I remember them.
I went to the book sale tent at two to help move the unsold books and tables back into the upper floor of the library. We have done very well this year: The new banner and the open space in front of the tent helped immensely.