Photo courtesy of Cathy Copeland
This year's celebration of Sharon's birthday has brought about many wonderful experiences for me. I have made new friends as we have worked on the commemorative book together. I have met other local photographers and enthusiast through the Sharon photography club, I have attended many celebrations and events that exemplify what is so wonderful about this town that I love, and I have learned so much more about its rich history. That alone would be enough to say that it's been a good year, but there was one part of the year that really stands out for me, the 250th parade.
Months before the parade, my husband's uncle Eddie, who owns Yankee Kennels and Stables, called several times a week. During these calls he would express to us how much he wanted to build a really great float for the parade. He asked for ideas on design and reminded us to be thinking about it. He wanted it to be very special. This went on for weeks.
Many ideas were batted around. Uncle Eddie is no fool, he knew exactly what he was doing by getting my husband involved. When my husband gets an idea he doesn't stop until he has completed it. He completely takes over. The other thing I need to mention is that what ever my husband agrees to do something, magically I have also agree to do it too. Before long we were spending every spare moment at the "faam" (farm).
So what do you do when you are as serious about building a float as Uncle Eddie? You don't borrow a trailer to build it on, you go out and purchase one and hide it behind the garage hoping your wife doesn't see it. Well of course Patty, his wife, saw it. She was a good sport about it, she was also involved in building a float along with the Sharon Historical Society right there in the garage at the farm.
Here was the first day of building. An internet search was being conducted to find out where we could find life-like animals to put on the float. A trip was made to an antique store in southern Massachusetts that carried them. When we got there, it was closed. When we got back I jokingly said, "It's too bad we couldn't borrow those animals that guy has on West St." I saw the gleam in Eddie's eye. Yup, you guessed it, in no time, the kind man not only let us borrow a life-size horse, but also a gorilla and a great dane. A life sized pig was also borrowed from a friend. Who has a life-size pig to borrow? A fellow law enforcement officer with a sense of humor, that's who.
Uncle Eddie purchased a constructible cardboard barn that we were going to place on the float. My daughter Sarah and I spent a whole afternoon putting it together. After John and I argued about how to best incorporate the barn into the float design, It was decided that a wooden barn would be constructed and the cardboard barn would be taken apart and used to cover the structure. This would make the structure much stronger. The float started to take shape. The animals, minus the gorilla, were strapped and bolted to the trailer. Many trips to hardware store were made and construction moved along.
Because we only worked in the afternoons and into the evening, we had dinner together almost every night with Eddie and Patty. My kids even joined us a couple of times. All this time we were building such great memories along with the float.
Well, in typical John Ford style, the float got some special additions, a sound system, and live "animals." My niece, a family friend, Anna, and my daughter, Sarah, donned horse-head masks and hooves and danced to
"I've Got the Horse Right Here", from the musical Guys and Dolls. My other daughter and her boyfriend were the horse rider and MC.
I'd say uncle Eddie got his really special float, but we all got something more; great family memories.
After 31 years of teaching, I have decided to retire and start a new chapter of my life as a photographer. It has been my passion for about 7 years now.