Memorial Day used to be an all day trip to the cemeteries. Most family plots held everyone since families still lived close to one another as opposed to moving far away. Also almost everyone had a soldier from some war buried near home. Picnic lunches were packed, hoes for weeding and new flowers for planting were loaded. I remember my grandmother-in-law telling about the hired hands going along to help in the South. It was a day of meeting, catching up on stories, of exchanging gossip.
DH went to small rural school. The building was closed in 1967 for consolidation. But the community has worked hard to keep that old building in one piece and operational for local events. There is an all school reunion held there every Memorial Day weekend assuming folks are about doing cemeteries by day. Last night we drove over to attend. Now the tables are not packed so closely together as they once were. We give uncomfortable laughs that we are moving closer to the front of the gym each year. With no new classes, the room shrinks with each year’s losses. This year one woman at the first table had graduated 76 years ago! The gathering is a dying breed of people. These folks are independent farmers, dressed in their best jeans and plaid shirts for the occasion. Tan lines across their foreheads shine on one of the few occasions they leave their caps at home. The night starts with the Pledge of Allegiance and closes with singing God Bless America.
Today the rain continues here. Slow and steady, nice if it had not done it most of May. I lounged about, reading and writing letters. I got another rejection this afternoon which makes it official: everything but a piece of fiction I sent out in the winter has returned home like carrier pigeons! So I must either give up or dig back in finding new markets.
When I started writing, publishing was still “old style” in that I submitted and was either rejected or published for money. Now the developments are that writers other than staff writers or powerhouse novelists either write for free or publish their own work. Now it costs to put your work out there. Entry fees to contests are large enough to buy a nice steak. Some magazines now even charge just to read your work! If you are published, often your pay is a copy of the publication or graciously being allowed to buy one at reduced prices. Ah, but Walmart will not accept that in trade for milk and bread!
I know change is the operative word in this world, but I am an old-fashioned gal. I long for the old traditions of Decoration Day, for editors like Maxwell Perkins, to see publications with short fiction, and writers like Cather, Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis. If you are snickering at my folly, just consider the source!
Have a good Memorial Day and be grateful to our veterans.