As parades go, Monday’s, from the Pond Street side of the Bartlet Mall to Newburyport’s City Hall and finally to the Veterans Cemetery was ... well, Norman Rockwell, the late, great cartoonist of the Saturday Evening Post would have loved it.
Rockwell’s extraordinary gift was to capture the heartwarming essence of the commonplace, and there was much of that in the air when I arrived to the starting area on Pond Street.
I had given up parading long ago, but something — I haven’t a clue what — had brought me to the staging area where I joined a dozen or so other veterans of assorted wars and service branches.
I hadn’t done this for so long I had forgotten about the old military axiom, “Hurry up and wait,’’ or what was offered by way of experience.
There is this about parades: the gathering and the sorting out of what at first appears to be patient disarray of participating parts of the whole will, upon signal, take their places in line as though from long practice.
Meanwhile, we enjoyed a pleasant social preliminary on what was a picture-perfect, mid-autumn morning until the members of the Roaring Thunder motorcycle detachment revved their engines and we took our place behind a drummer beating a marching cadence I took to be 120 steps a minute.
It may have been less, but by the time we had reached the top of Green Street, it felt like considerably more.
I had brought my walking stick and kept it tucked under my left armpit — British military style, so to speak — ready to use for whatever split-second occurrence might require a downhill brake.
Uphill, it helps steady the load.
The parade route was brief: down Green Street to Pleasant and — blessed be those who provided them — chairs for sitting.