The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 5, 2012

Mike Pound: Bike parade grows into neighborhood tradition

Now the picnic table can go back in the garage.

We’ve had the table for some 20 years. Well, that’s not exactly true. My wife and I have had it for some 20 years, but my wife has had the picnic table for much longer than that. It used to belong to my wife’s mother. Now, most people would probably get rid of a picnic table after it has been around for 40 years, but my wife is not most people. I remember clearly the day my wife told me that we were getting it.

“Why do we need a picnic table? We don’t picnic,” I said.

“It’s the picnic table I grew up with,” my wife said.

“So, what’s your point?” I said.

My wife told me that I was unsentimental. I told my wife that she was correct.

“We still don’t need a picnic table,” I said.

We got the picnic table.

Most of the time, the picnic table stays in our garage. But once a year, I have to haul it out for the annual Fourth of July Bike Parade that my wife and Lana from across the street started 11 years ago. My wife and Lana call it the Fourth of July Bike Parade even though the parade has never been held on the Fourth. I thought about mentioning that to my wife one time, but then I decided to keep my mouth shut.

I made the right choice.

Lana and my wife put the picnic table in the parkway on our street and cover it with a tablecloth. They cover the table because — well, because it’s 40 years old. Once the picnic table is covered with a tablecloth, it is then covered with food for the people at the bike parade.

Besides hauling the table out of our garage, I have several other bike parade chores, the most important of which is making sure Pat and Malcolm know where I keep the beer in our backyard. Pat’s chore is to drive the cart that Laurel Rosenthal — the parade grand marshal and principal at Mark Twain Elementary School in Carthage — rides in the parade. Malcolm’s job is to get Laurel — his wife — to the parade.

When I saw Malcolm, I told him I would lead him to the beer.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for a year,” Malcolm said.

I took that as a compliment.

While Pat sipped his pre-bike parade beer, we talked about how my wife has been busy remodeling our entire house and yard. I mentioned something about my wife’s work on our kitchen.

“You don’t have to tell me about kitchen remodeling,” Pat said in a “You’re telling Eisenhower about the war” kind of manner.

After a few minutes, I mentioned that I probably should go see if the parade was ready to begin.

“Go on,” Malcolm said. “You’ve got responsibilities. I don’t.”

Later, after making sure that my wife saw me, I sneaked back to check on Malcolm, who was still savoring his beer. He looked content.

After a few more minutes, Malcolm and I wandered back to the parade. The kids were just returning from their ride, so I made sure that my wife saw me again. The festivities were going well, everyone seemed to be having a good time, and my wife was smiling, which I took to be a good sign.

“Everything going OK?” I asked.

“Yes. Thanks for all of your help,” she said.

“No problem,” I said.

Now all I have to do is put away the picnic table.

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