A most beautiful Independence Day was celebrated (not merely observed) here at the Stately Manor. The indentured servants, unlettered field hands, white lab coats, The Squire, Mrs. Squire and #1 Son helped themselves to the brats, beans, and burgers laid out in Orchard Ridge Park by our very active neighborhood association.
Via the family Philco, the Manor’s denizens caught some Brewers baseball — the Crew continued their surprising resurgence by bashing the O’s — followed by a viewing of the first half of Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow’s accounting of the hunt for bin Laden, and a rousing game of croquet on the verdant grounds of the Manor.
The highlight of the day was the annual Orchard Ridge neighborhood parade. Fortuitously, the parade passes right by the Manor, the grounds demarcated with a row of one-foot-high American flags. We joined our neighbors lining the route, some with an adult beverage in hand for the 11:30 a.m. event.
But most of the neighborhood was IN the parade, young folks and old but particularly parents and their children — most of them buzzing around on their bikes, trikes and scooters — all festooned in streamers and balloons and other expressions of the red, white and blue — like little summer no see-ums, full of Life. All get our applause.
It is a simple parade, always led by a Madison Fire Department truck, sounding its siren intermittently. We met Mr. Avery, who bought the former city water commissioner’s house on the other side of the park. He was attired as Uncle Sam.
The Squire is proud to say that he was once a grand marshal of this parade; as the county supervisor he rode on the back of the late Rush Watson’s red Cadillac convertible with alder Cindy Thomas. Last year our marshal was Police Chief Mike Koval. (Right On! Orchard Ridge Neighborhood Assn.!) I was pleased the chief could see some of the Support Our Police yard signs that had just gone up along the streets of Orchard Ridge. (The 2016 photograph.)
This year’s marshals were Bob Keller and his missus, Catherine. Truly one of the most decent and public-spirited human beings imaginable. I’ve known Bob for the last 25 years or so. Bob has been selling real estate in Madison since the early 1950s and is responsible for some of the finest multi-family housing developments in town, including Monroe Commons.
As a young man, he attended the 1952 Republican and Democratic national conventions — just because he was interested in politics. Has mementoes of each in his office, the striking art deco building at 448 W. Washington Ave. where AFSCME was founded. (Bill Proxmire ran the Union Labor News there until he ran for office in 1950, defeating (in the Democratic primary) my grandfather’s bid for re-election to the State Assembly.)
Bob and his late first wife raised four sons in Orchard Ridge, including my old campaign manager, Dave Keller — a chip of his father’s block. Growing up, Dave tells me, the neighborhood kids took on Hockey Bob Johnson’s kids at the skating rink at the park.
Bob Keller turns 90 years of age on Saturday, July 8, and he is reason alone to celebrate America’s birthday.
Freedom of thought
This being Madison, no holiday is complete without a smearing of hatred. Broadcasting over its A.M. airwaves on this Independence Day afternoon was someone WORT radio lists as JoAnne Pow!ers (s.i.c.).
“There’s some jingoistic holiday going on today so I am playing some anti-war tunes as anti-American as I can find. … for this Country built on slavery.”
(One of her selections was “Song for Ché”; another “Free Cell Block F, ‘Tis Nazi USA.”)
I feel sorry for such people. They can’t even recognize the freedom they enjoy — the same freedom that, if they had their way, they would deny to others.
Let’s counter that with this love letter to America written for National Review by a woman from Sweden:
I fell in love, slowly but surely. I got to know a nation that was based on certain intrinsic values, that carried a responsibility for the world and saw freedom as a right worth living and dying for. I went back and forth between Sweden and the U.S., between socialism and freedom, and it was like growing up not only on two sides of the world, but on two sides of history. I saw America helping to change the world and saving lives … You are exceptional, and coming to America taught me that I could be exceptional, too. Thank you for that.
And thank you to our many fine neighbors in Orchard Ridge and to the men and women who keep us safe and protect our freedoms.