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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Celebrating Memorial Day Back in the 50's ~ by Vonnie Davis

This year Memorial Day is celebrated on my birthday. My seventy-first, in fact. Yeah, I'm older than Methuselah. What can I say?

Growing up in south-central Pennsylvania, this holiday was one of relaxation for my work-focused parents and carries good memories. Days before Memorial Day, Mother watched the buds on the row of peonies planted along the driveway bloom. Extra care was also given to all the irises, or flags as she called them, to bloom. She and her four sisters traded all the colors of irises growing in their yards until each had a vibrant assortment of colors. My favorite was a salmon-pink. There were also roses--red, pink, and yellow. Mother could get a stone to bloom.

Early in the morning, we'd make bouquets from flowers blooming in our large yard in Mason jars. These were created to place at the headstones of family members--grandparents, brothers, sisters, great-grandparents, nieces and nephews.

With flower-filled jars placed in boxes and a whicker basket full of fried chicken, potato salad chilled in a jar, pickled eggs, sliced cheddar cheese, pies--both apple and blueberry, we'd take off to town 1/2 hour away to  attend the short Memorial Day parade.

After the parade, we drove to four different cemeteries to place the jars in front of headstones. Then came the guessing game of who'd brought which bouquet. My mother would sneer with disdain. "Look, I bet those are flowers from a store."

Once all our home-grown arrangements were delivered, we'd go for a long drive. Gas was 26 cents a gallon at the time and we had a '54 Chevy. We'd drive for what seemed like an hour or more to a church in the country or a field. We'd crawl over the fence if there was one and Dad would carry the filled basket of food. Mom, the igloo cooler of homemade lemonade, in which she always added a half-cup of vinegar to make us pucker. After all, our thirst couldn't be quenched until we puckered. A recipe handed down from German great-grandmas. 

We'd find just the right spot to spread the starched and ironed tablecloth. We'd eat until we couldn't swallow another bite. Dad would stretch out and nap on the grass. Mother would tell me stories until she fell asleep. Then I'd sit under a shade tree and make-up stories of my own. Now, I'm still making up stories.


Vonnie Davis writes contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Follow her on Amazon at


  1. What a lovely post, Vonnie. One side of our family had a reunion at the park on Memorial Day. I wasn't fond of going, frankly, because I was tall for my age and every year the same relatives would tell my dad he needed to tie a brick to my head so I'd quit growing so fast. I like your day better.

  2. Thank you, Caroline. We had family reunions, too, but usually in June. Mother always made me play my accordian (my parents were great Lawrence Welk fans). Me? Not so much. LOL

  3. It sounds like you had fun with your family. Picnics seems to be growing out of disfavor, but they were a lot of fun. Now I'm betting you'll get people who will spend their whole time looking at their phones and missing the whole concept.

  4. Cell phones! Oh, Judy Ann, a scourge on our society. One of many. I'm so glad my kids have made them tabu over mealtime. They keep a phone basket on the kitchen counter. All cells have to go in the basket before bedtime too.


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