It’s raining on our parade — bring it on

Sweepstakes Float, Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade, 1971

By Laura Grimes

You’re stuck with me. Sorry about that, but it can’t be helped. Mr. Scatter had a wee bit of oral surgery and he’s either high or sleeping. Either condition would produce an interesting blog post, but it ain’t happening.

Like that wasn’t enough, the Small Large Smelly Boy came home from school smelling like squid. Something about biology. He was especially happy to report that he got to pop the eyeballs.

So I’m home with a high husband and a squid-smelling kid instead of crouching in the rain at the Junior Rose Festival Parade. Which makes me enormously relieved and just a little sad.

I have fond and not-so-fond memories of all the Rose Festival parades — the Junior, the Starlight and the Grand Floral. They all involve dirty little secrets. (Mr. Scatter will never have oral surgery again after this one.)

The Junior Rose Parade

Last year I took the Small LSB and a couple of his buddies. After a few hours when we were just a little tired and on automatic pilot a small float rolled past. It was full of little kids and the sign on the side read, “Made in Oregon.” I chuckled and nudged the Small LSB. We continued to watch all the activity in the street.

“Were we made in Oregon?” he let fly oh-so-casually.

“Yah,” I answered straight out without thinking. Pause. “No, wait. Not your brother.”

I continued to watch the parade, hoping my little slip would glide by like that small float. I got away with it for about two beats. The Small LSB suddenly turned with an awe-struck look and a sly grin. He suddenly had more questions, too, but I only grinned back.

The Starlight Parade

It will be forever etched in my memory as the place where I wet my red-and-white checked pants when I was 10. The pants were really wide and really short and perhaps deserved it. I’ve never been invited back.

The Grand Floral Parade

When I was in the third grade, I offensively dressed as a geisha and rode on a float. In the photo up above, that’s me on the left. To get ready, I had to get up in the middle of the night, put on lots of makeup and wear uncomfortable funny slippers that split my toes apart. My friend, Tina, from up the street rode on the float with me. She had to kneel for several hours.

I was wildly jealous of my cousins, who got to ride a float sponsored by Olympia Brewing Co. and wear overalls and braided pigtails.

Their float had real waterfalls and animated wildlife. Mine just had a seed-covered lantern. They got nifty fishing poles. I had to hold a pink paper parasol.

But I decided my fate wasn’t so bad when my float won the grand prize Sweepstakes Award and a photo of it was splashed big on the cover of the newspaper with me right in the middle. My mom carefully wrote my name in pencil and drew a line across the photo pointing to my face.

The newspaper? The Oregon Journal. It was 1971. Three years later, my future husband, also known as my current first husband, would have a job there.

A parade of excerpts from the same paper — all form a bizarre microcosm of the early ’70s and some are frightening echoes of today:

Undaunted by a light rain and nervous fretting around her, Tricia Nixon was married Saturday to Edward Finch Cox as she wished, outdoors in the White House Rose Garden before 400 guests and a sad but happy father.

Cox, a 24-year-old New York socialite and Harvard law student, placed a simple platinum band encrusted with 30 diamonds on the finger of the President’s 25-year-old daughter, and the Rev. Dr. Edward G. Latch pronounced them man and wife.


Reinforced Cambodian troops led by a general on a motorbike Saturday reoccupied the battered district capital of Srang, which had been lost to the Communists in a bloody battle two days before.

In South Vietnam, Saigon government troops who were pulled out of the A Shau Valley on Friday moved Saturday toward the Demilitarized Zone, where the Communists are building up for a possible showpiece battle to influence the October elections.


The Soviet Union campaigned Saturday for talks on worldwide cutbacks in arms to include warships on the seven seas and troops in Central Europe.

Leonid I. Brezhnev, general secretary of the Soviet Communist party, established the line of the campaign Friday by offering to bargain with the United States on pulling back the two nations’ mighty naval fleets from distant shores.


Armed federal guards patrolled desolate Alcatraz Saturday to prevent any Indian attempts to recapture the island they were effortlessly ousted from after a 19-month occupation.

An armada of U.S. marshals took back the rocky isle in San Francisco Bay in a surprise raid Friday. The last 15 occupants offered no resistance and were carried off to a downtown hotel.

The angry Indians — who wanted to build a cultural center on the foggy island — charged they were betrayed by the government on orders of President Nixon. Some vowed to reclaim the island.

U.S. Attorney James L. Browning said a team of federal guards, with weapons, was stationed on the island and would resist any attempt at another takeover.


Lockheed Aircraft Chairman Daniel J. Haughton says Congress might as well let his company go bankrupt if it is going to insist upon a clean sweep of its management as the price for taking a quarter of a billion dollar gamble on its future.


OLYMPIA, Wash. — The legislature’s Interim Committee on Fisheries will hold a hearing in Spokane June 24 to hear testimony concerning recent nitrogen fish kills in the Snake and Columbia Rivers.


Leaders of minorities have assailed President Nixon’s statement that the government will not force communities to accept unwanted public housing projects for the poor as a retreat from moral conviction and a ‘mockery of the Constitution.’


BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Two bombs which exploded at Belfast educational institutions were rigged as a one-two booby trap.


A leading Soviet physician said Saturday that the Salyut space station crew is in good health now but will encounter ‘considerable difficulties’ after they return to earth because of weightlessness problems.


North Vietnam held its national elections this week. No new faces had been expected to emerge, and an announcement by the North Vietnamese News Agency Saturday showed that none did. Pham Van Dong was re-elected prime minster …


Is one seat on the Portland city council worth $166,000?

Maybe or maybe not. But that’s about what it cost the supporters of Commissioner Frank Ivancie and contractor Tom Walsh together to thrash it out over position No. 3 in the 1970 city primary and general election.

… According to the Portland telephone directory, Western Sales Co.’s office was in the executive suite of Western Kraft Corp., headed by Ira Keller. Keller is chairman of the City Hall-appointed Portland Development Commission and another large Ivancie supporter.

Western Sales proved to be a Keller family corporation, headed by Keller’s son, Richard.

Counting the $8,800 tabloid loan, the Keller family and various Western Kraft-connected executives pumped at least $12,725 into financing the Ivancie race.

Keller responded angrily to an inquiry about his role in the election. ‘I’m sick of this kind of thing,’ he said. ‘Pretty soon people like me who serve on these commissions (Keller heads urban renewal) are just gonna say the hell with it.’


Caption: Flower arrangement on tea table at annual meeting of Portland Garden Club attracts attention of newly elected officers.


ILLUSTRATION: June 12, 1971 — John Benham (I hope I’m spelling his name correctly) holds the ribbon for the Sweepstakes-winning float of the 1971 Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. Benham oversaw the construction of a few floats every year at the parade. He owned a floral shop in Bothell, Wash., coincidentally enough, because my family moved there a few years after this photo was taken. His partner, I remember only as Mondo, stands behind him. I’m on the left holding a pink parasol. Tina is kneeling on the right. Photo by Allan J. de Lay. A similar photo without Benham ran on the front page of the Oregon Journal with the caption: “Sweepstakes award in 63rd annual Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade went to Toyota Motors’ entry of ‘Madame Butterfly,’ depicting dream of Japanese-American togetherness.”