23 February 2017

A Study in Blue and Gold [1961 guest post]

[A guest post (written by my mother, actually) about a Blue and Gold Dinner on 23 February 1961. According to an online source “In nearly all packs, the annual blue and gold banquet, which is often the pack meeting for February, is the highlight of the year. It brings families together for an evening of fun and inspiration.”]
ell, last night we attended our first blue-and-gold dinner. If you say to me in your courteous way, “That’s nice—what is a blue-and-gold dinner?” I will have to reply “Damned if I know.” It fits in pretty well with the rest of the miseries of February, though.
It began, actually, a month or so ago at the last Pack meeting. (A Pack meeting is a conclave held in a gymnasium. The components of the conclave are boys who all wear identical blue shirts and adults who do not. Often there is one adult who wears short trousers and does most of the talking.) This little man in the short pants said, “All you Den Mothers better keep in mind that the Bloongold Dinner’s the twennythird a February an your next den meeting’s not too early to get started on ya decorations.” (Den meetings are smaller gatherings than Pack Meetings. They are held in the home of Somebody’s Mother (called a Den Mother) once a week and feature such activities as Pasting Different Things Together, and Taking Useful Things Apart And Making Them Into Other Things Which Aren’t Exactly Useful But You Could Hang Them On The Wall Or Put Things In Them.) Inevitably the day came. I spent the morning pasting narrow strips of blue and of yellow crepe paper onto oblongs of paper in the home of a Den Mother, the afternoon shopping for and preparing this huge salad and rolls to share with all the cub scouts and their families, and frying some ham for us. It was supposed to be chicken, but there are limits beyond which even I will not be pushed, and when three out of five in the family eat chicken, and only one of the cub scouts is included in that three, I say foo. And fry ham.
And we spent our evening at the Blue and Gold Dinner. We sat down at 6:00 pm as scheduled at a long table covered with white paper and with the placemats we had made. The glue didn’t make the crepe paper colors run together very much, and there was a flower made out of Kleenex at every place. We smiled nervously at different members of the family sitting across from us, who smiled nervously at us and shifted in their seats. We shifted in our seats and clutched the youngest, who was headed for the ice-cream bin.
At 6:30 the man in short pants said how glad he was to see everyone here tonight and there was gonna be a flag salute. Sure enough, there was. And there was an invocation—he thanked God for the organization eight times before he was through. Then we ate the cold ham and the lukewarm baked beans and the only slightly wilted salad and the moderately runny jello. It didn’t really matter that the rolls had got cold, because the butter was beginning to melt.
Well, this is running on too long; my whole life is passing before my eyes. Let’s see—there was entertainment—a lady said how it sure was a good idea to get the kids in offa the streets and set ’em square-dancing, and some beardless youths and green-checkered maidens skipped around on the stage for a while. Quite a while. And then some parents of Cub Scouts crossed the stage two or three times in bathing suits circa 1890, revolving gracefully. When the curtain accidentally came open after this was over, there was still one portly father in an 1890 bathing suit all alone in the center of the stage, revolving gracefully. This bothers me more than any of the rest, I think.
The last part of the entertainment was eight fathers in mops and false bosoms performing a hairy-legged can-can. Now please; I am describing this in the same spirit in which Ezekiel described the wheel—as a spectator of something absolutely true, and totally unbelievable to the spectator him/herself, let alone to anyone who was not present. The curious thing was that the performers were laughing and the audience was laughing; the fantastic thing was that several children and two adults were heard to say that this was the funniest thing they had ever seen (can you envision what their past life must have been like?); the horrifying thing was the thought that this or something similar has been going on every February at every school across the nation since the beginning of Cub Scouts, and apparently nobody but me feels like weeping at the thought. A Fun Filled Evening For Everyone—Boys and Girls, Moms and Dads—And Here’s Hoping The Next One Will Be As Great And Fun Filled As This One!
Oh, and we sang this song about this old woman that ate a fly?

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