By DiVoran Lites
Chapter Thirty One
Before the Parade
When rodeo day came, Ellie put on the divided doeskin skirt, and fringed jacket Nancy had worn as rodeo queen. The outfit was of the softest leather Ellie had ever felt and she knew it would blend with Summer’s and Sunrise’s palomino coats. For a blouse, she wore a plaid taffeta shirtwaist in red and gold Molly found in the attic and spruced up.Aldon told her she looked like she’d probably be rodeo queen next year if she stayed around. It could be a possibility, she thought if Aldon wanted her to.. The horses dressed up too, wearing hand-tooled tack made by Aldon’s grandfather over fifty years before. It gave Ellie a warm glow to think how much respect and love creations from the past could generate, and how useful they could still be. The final touch was Ellie’s brown Stetson for which she had spent a great deal of money. She knew it would last her a lifetime, but she didn’t know for how long she would be in a place where she could wear it without looking strange. Stetsons for women certainly were not the rage in Chicago.
Aldon had saddled Summer and Chief and brought them to the back door to await her pleasure. Sunrise would follow where his mother led. Aldon gave put his hands under the stirrup so she could use them to mount. He then got on Chief.
The day of the rodeo was clear with puffy clouds. As Aldon and Ellie road along on the gravel road to town they began to sing the songs they had rehearsed for Sunday Meeting the next day. When they spotted the spires of the churches, they sang, “When it’s Springtime in the Rockies,” and “Home on the Range.” Having traveled the road so frequently on their way to town and back, by now each had memorized most of the songs the other knew. They sang: cowboy songs, hymns and some German songs. Ellie had taught Aldon some of the classical ones she knew and he liked them so much he kept asking for more.
As they got closer to town there were horses and wagons behind and in front of them. Everyone in the valley loved rodeo day and every one who could participate. Aldon’s cousins came from their ranches in flivvers, in spring wagons, and on horseback. All of them clustered under the cottonwood trees near the creek at the Community Church from whence the parade would proceed. Cousins from the German band piled out of their big wagon which was pulled by a pair of black and white Clydesdales with huge hooves and broad backs. The men wore their lederhosen and alpine caps. They were a strange enough sight, but when they started warming up, Sunrise got spooked and ran off.
“It’s the tubas.” Aldon said. “My family always has too many tubas. Most of the instruments came from Prussia where, before the war, they made some of the best instruments in the world. You can look in any attic in the valley and there will be a tuba there. The family almost disowned me when I chose the mandolin. One of these days, though, if I have enough wind left in me, I’ll get down the Tuba and play it, too.”
The parade-master walked among the crowd, trying to say out of the way of the horses’ back feet. He spoke to each group, telling them where they belonged in the line-up. The clowns with their brooms and shovels were assigned groups of horses to follow and clean up after. The Artesia school band had come to march too. There was no high-school in the area so that the students who wished to go on must board in town. Few did as no one seemed to see a need for a high-school diploma when they had so much practical and hard-earned experience with ranching.
Summer was almost prancing when she and Chief passed the family on the sidelines who had come in the ranch vehicles. Seraphina jumped up and down and waved her arms. “Ellie, Aldon!” she yelled. Kate tried to quiet her, but the little girl was too excited to calm down.