Westport’s Memorial Day parade has been a town highlight for nearly a century.
But coincidentally, 2 parade photos from the same year — 1965 — popped into my inbox within a few days of each other last week.
One — posted by Paul Ehrismann on Facebook — shows a gaggle of kids and parents, turning the corner from the Post Road (State Street) onto Myrtle Avenue:
Their outfits — today, quite politically incorrect and culturally misappropriated — show they were part of the Westport YMCA’s “Indian Guide” program.
I was never an Indian Guide, so I don’t know whether they learned actual history or stereotypical myths about Machamux, the Pequots, and other people and tribes who lived here nearly 4 centuries ago.
But if I had to guess …
The other photo came from Adam Stolpen:
In 1965, Adam was a Staples High School student — and the one delivering a Memorial Day address. The site for the ceremony in those days was Jesup Green. (Today it’s at Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.)
Others in the photo include Westport resident and former Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge (all in white, with a Navy cap); World War I veteran and grand marshal E.O. Nigel Cholmeley-Jones (to the right of Governor Lodge, with hands folded), and Temple Israel’s rabbi, Byron T. Rubenstein (seated at far left).
Adam thinks the man in uniform on the far right may be parade director Frank Cunningham.
The Memorial Day parade has endured for years. But over the past few years, attendance has been a bit down.
Yet it’s one of those things that makes Westport feel like a small town — and a very American one.
The parade begins Monday at 9 a.m., at Saugatuck Elementary School. The route takes it down Riverside Avenue, then onto the Post Road and Myrtle Avenue, ending at Town Hall.
A very inspiring ceremony — with brief speeches, patriotic music, a 21-gun salute and a tribute to grand marshal, 99-year-old World War II veteran Ben Pepper — follows, around 10:30 at Veterans Green.
Don’t miss it! And maybe 58 years from now — in 2083 — your picture will be part of a “Friday Flashback” too.
(“06880” is as “Westport” as the Memorial Day parade. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)