Friday, October 02, 2009

Flying Saucer Days

I was driving down the highway this morning when a plain white paper plate flew out of a wetback's truck and wafted past me on a freeway wind.

Last night Patrick had asked me down to the river to see this 90 foot boat that had come upriver to dock at Old Sac.  The pictures don't do it justice: it truly was a lovely ship! Very similar in look and feel to the one that Goldie Hawn has in the old movie Overboard.  White and large and needing a real crew to sail her.  And she came all the way from Bikini in the Marshall Islands.

 It gave me that sea-faring feeling...the one of longing to see the Southern Cross and to sleep out under an entirely different set of constellations in the middle of the ocean.

Right now for 5 bucks you can sponsor a rubber duck that will be tossed off the I street bridge with 5000 other rubber ducks and then somehow be scooped up once it reaches the Capitol Bridge, a few feet downriver from whence it started.  And if your duck gets there first, it wins a prize. All the proceeds go to fund something for the Special Olympics. 

 I was surprised they would let something like that happen, in this day and age. They would call it littering and a public nuisance and a bio-hazard if one of those little duckies escaped the nets and headed for the open waters of the Pacific. Neither Patrick nor I can see how they can guarantee that all those ducks will make it downriver. We fully expect the little inlets and docks along the way to have a stray rubber ducky or two floating in to land, beached and belly-up, with the tide.

I hope some of them escape. I hope at least one makes it all the way to Bikini, M. I. 

Today, with a severe headache and at absolutely zero on the energy scale, I saw that paper plate come flying past me and I remembered: 

I remember when you were allowed to toss bottles into oceans and throw rubber duckies into the cricks and rivers and set them free. 

I remember being a wee tot and being told that it was 'Flying Saucer Days' and what a BIG event that was! 

All the merchants of the town got together and put their names on paper plates with coupons for free things like ice cream and shoelaces. And at a certain time a local pilot would fly over the town and release all 5000 of them and we were allowed to run and chase them and pick them up and claim our prizes.

I'm pretty sure I won a free ice cream cone and maybe a buck or two, redeemable at the local bank.

For most of my childhood, at least, the sight of a paper plate windblown up against a barbed wire fence down some dirt road gave me a feeling of hope and expectation. Like finding an Easter Egg someone had forgotten about.

Nowadays, a paper plate is just a paper plate. But can you remember when...?

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