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2004-07-04 - 7:51 a.m.

In Sickness…and in Health – 28 years! Celebrate!

One usually thinks of going out for a romantic dinner to celebrate one’s anniversary, but not Joan and Ed Callaway. We start our celebration by setting up our chairs in front of Munchie’s to get a good seat for the parade, the beginning of all-day festivities in Ashland, Oregon, which we choose to believe are especially in our honor. For twenty-five years we have been going to Ashland, many times rendezvousing with our whole family to celebrate that day when we gathered on the balcony of Florence Callaway’s Top of the World home in Laguna Beach, overlooking the beach on that sunny 4th of July in 1976.

The jets fly overhead to announce the beginning of the parade. Bands play as everything from marching won-tons to deck-chair Yuppies to little ballerinas pass by. An antique fire truck, full of Dixieland musicians, manages to finish the parade route and race around to re-enter and repeat their performance at least three times.

We especially like to sit in front of Munchies as it is just a couple of blocks from our vacation home, but I must confess it’s probably also because it’s only steps away from lattes and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It’s also on the direct route to the bandstand through what we affectionately call “pork-out ridge,” the street behind Lithia Park that is closed off on this special day. Artists and non-profits set up hundreds of food and arts and crafts booths providing sustenance and temptation for the parade-goers on their way to the bandstand up the hill.

One of the actors from the Ashland Shakespearean Festival reads the Declaration of Independence. A high school student presents the winning patriotic essay of the year. The mayor introduces visiting gaily-costumed guests from Ashland’s Sister City in Mexico. And then, the piéce de resistance, the Ashland Community Band presents a full afternoon of toe-tapping John Phillip Sousa marches. People-watching provides even more entertainment as friends and neighbors greet each other on the blanket- and chair-covered hill above the bandstand.

It’s a thrill when the conductor of the band invites veterans from each of the armed services to stand as the band plays their hymn. We keep waiting for him to announce our anniversary, but each year he forgets. Never mind. We know the fireworks are yet to come, although frequently our day has been so full that by dark we are ready to call it a day and let the younger generation do the ooh-ing and aah-ing for us. And we are far too stuffed from the traditional sausage sandwich and the other sumptuous delights we had not been able to resist as we passed by “Pork Out Ridge “ on our way home. Who could even think of going out to a romantic dinner after such a day? Our senses are sated in every way.

Today will be different for us. We are staying in Davis, since Ed is still recuperating from surgery. We will watch Max play in the All Star Little League game and perhaps risk the crowds at Fahrenheit 9/11, although the grandchildren have been threatening to take us to see Spiderman 2. Whatever we do as we celebrate this 28th anniversary, it will be together! (Unless it's Spiderman 2! - I think I might pass on that one.)

“A blessed thing it is for a man or a woman to have a friend; one human soul whom we can trust utterly; who knows the best and the worst of us and who loves us in spite of all our faults…” – Author unknown

Addendum: We've just returned from Max's game - we left in the middle of the 4th inning, Score 23-1, I think...Max had just hit a Grand Slam over the fence home run! It is hotter than the hinges out there, and you know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen being the only ones to sit out in the noonday sun? We decided Max's team was far enough ahead that we could risk a clean break and not look as though we were abandoning a sinking ship.

A former student was on the opposing team. I hadn't seen Andrew for a couple of years, so I hardly recognized him especially with his hard hat helmet on at bat, but saw a bit of that red curly hair poking out beneath it. The freckles on his Irish face were a dead give away! A sweet kid...at least he was when I last knew him. I'll call him tomorrow -- but perhaps not mention the score of the game!

We've been invited to the Holseizer's for dinner tonight...and to climb up on the roof to watch fireworks. That'd be a sight! We'll pass on the rooftop exhibition and watch from our front yard, I suspect.

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