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Write of Passage

Maureen Connors Badding arrived in Wauwatosa 22 years ago via Buffalo and Phoenix. She's a freelance writer and habitual volunteer who enjoys book clubs, travel, entertaining and cheering for her daughter's swim team.

On Tim Russert and the Fourth of July Parade

Like everyone from Buffalo, I was saddened by Tim Russert's death. Most of us ex-Buffalonians are staunch defenders of the city's reputation, but he was one of the most vocal and certainly one of the most famous.

I actually received condolences when he died, but I never met Tim Russert. By the time I was attending dances at Canisius High School, Tim was long gone. And even my five brothers, who were closer to his age, never knew him. While he was on a bus heading to his all-boys Catholic school in North Buffalo, my brothers were on a bus heading toward South Buffalo to go to theirs.

But I still watched Tim's memorial show on MSNBC and listened to all the eulogies. I was astounded when I heard a couple of people mention the many parades in Buffalo. The curious thing is, other than a huge St. Patrick's Day Parade, I don't remember many parades in Buffalo.

It really got me wondering. I even Googled “Buffalo + Parades” to see if my memory was faulty. It was. There are, in fact, lots of parades in Buffalo. I'm just now realizing that my family members weren't “Parade People.”

You see, since I've lived in Tosa, I've forgotten that I'm not really Parade People either. For many years, I was gladly recruited as a chaperone for my daughter's various groups and teams when they marched in Tosa's Fourth of July Parade. For the past few years, I've gone to see all our friends and neighbors marching with their respective groups. I couldn't imagine not going to the parade this year.

I've realized that Tosa is a Parade Town, and you can't help becoming Parade People when you live here. In particular, our Fourth of July Parade has a subtle and mysterious allure that cannot be ignored. Resistance is futile. It could be 96 degrees and blindingly sunny or 60 degrees and raining, but attendance is mandatory.

So, in spite of the crowds and the awkward gaps; the clowns and the Shriners on their loud Harleys notwithstanding, I will go to Tosa's Fourth of July Parade. And at some point, I'll probably even have a tear in my eye. It might be the Vietnam Vets and their Hmong contemporaries. It could be the littlest Dailey Deb struggling to keep up with the rest of the group. It could be the East Marching Band and all the kids I know who will be going their separate ways next year.

Something will get to me. And I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Musings from Sonoma County

California, Tourism

I spent a delicious week in Northern California last week, away from my computer. But that didn't stop me from thinking about Wauwatosa and blogging. Some random thoughts kept running through my mind, but I will never have enough time to follow up on them:

- If Brett Favre doesn't succeed with his football comeback, will we see him on The Surreal Life or Dancing with the Stars anytime soon?

- It bugs me when airline passengers complain about not getting a pack of pretzels or getting charged for an extra bag when you can fly across the country for about the same price (or less) than you could 20 years ago, while jet fuel costs at least four times more.

And still, I was embarrassed for Midwest Airlines when the pilot on my San Francisco to Milwaukee flight made a lengthy announcement about how it cost $195 per person in fuel alone to fly that route. It was awkward, and I half expected the flight attendants to pass a hat before they passed out the cookies.

- Borrowing a friend's portable GPS navigation system for our vacation was a stroke of genius. Those things are great!

- Why doesn't anyone pronounce bruschetta correctly? I can see in Milwaukee, where the SCH section of the phone book is by far the largest. But Californians have no excuse. Repeat after me: broo-sket-ta.

- How come San Francisco has three very impressive forms of mass transit, while we don't even have one?

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