NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 2, 2013

Homecoming now and then

As I See It
Ralph Ayers

---- — Yes, it’s September, but don’t ask me where the summer went, as it’s history. Before I forget it, may I say that the 2013 edition of Yankee Homecoming was one of the best, mainly due to an excellent chairwoman in Tammy Jennings. I have worked with and for 55 chairpersons, but I never saw as much enthusiasm as she displayed that lasted from the opening ceremonies till the end of the parade.

Yes, we had a few critics — don’t we always. One I heard was making Olde Fashioned Sunday into a carnival, and I disagree, as I invented the day, and if the spokesman wants a carnival, then have a carnival, but not on Olde Fashioned Sunday! The other comment was, “It wasn’t a bad parade,” and my reply was, “I never saw a bad parade.”

May I add one more story about Homecoming? A good friend of mine, Richard Foley, recently died, and although he never was a chairman or headed a YH committee, he was solely responsible for playing a part in one of the greatest acts ever put on during Olde Fashioned Sunday, namely the tightrope act over the Mall that drew over 18,000 spectators. As the chairman, I had all of the necessary equipment, including Eric the Great, to do the walk, except the amount of guide wires to secure the high wire, so, as a last resort, I called Dick, who worked as a lineman for AT&T. He said he’d ask his boss, which he did, but was denied the material. This historical act was not about to happen, and Ralphie was devastated.

Two days later Dick called me and said he had the wire, and don’t ask any questions. The act went off, but if it were not for Dick Foley’s coming through at the last minute, it would have never happened. I later found out that Dick went to the equipment area, on his own, took the material, then replaced it, and nobody, including the boss at AT&T, ever knew what happened. I will never forget my friend who never took a bow, but played a key role. God bless and peace, Dick!

Forgive me, but I did mention it was September, and many things happen this month that most of us take for granted. You know them, but I’ll just remind you. Yes, Mom and Dad, school starts. Yahoo! Football will be in the air; the Red Sox will have a banner year; politicians and candidates will have their faces in the paper and signs on your lawn; the COWs and NRA will be telling us who is right; your heating and electricity bill will go up; husbands and wives will be debating when to go to Florida, one of which doesn’t want to go at all; regulars at the boardwalk will bring jackets and find sunny spots, not the shade; the mess at Warner’s corner will be finished; the new school will consider Joe Donnelly, the retired beloved principal, for its name; and hopefully, the seniors will see their center built, providing all of us keep our oxygen bottles filled.

By the way, I’m doing tours, but you’ve got to furnish the car, do the driving, bring your own guests, save me a seat and I’ll do the rest. Yup, it’s free, and if a donation is offered, it goes to the Link House, a local recovery facility. If you’d like one, call me for an appointment at 978-465-9363.

Talk to you again, next month, the good Lord willing!

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Ralph J. Ayers of Newburyport calls himself a “local yokel.”