My favorite Christmas memory was when I was 6 or 7 years old. We had moved to Birmingham, AL but most of our family still lived in Montgomery..
A few weeks before Christmas we made a trip back to Montgomery to see my grandparents and family for the weekend. It was something we did often so I didn’t think anything about it. When we got to my grandparents house they surprised me by telling me the Christmas parade was that weekend and that my grandfather and I were going to be in it!! My grandfather worked for a car dealership and he was going to be driving a convertible for a beauty queen in the parade and I was going to ride with him! I’m not sure if I was more excited about the parade, the convertible or being with my grandfather. I do remember that I was not too excited about the beauty queen.
So the morning of the parade came and of course there was lots to do to get ready. My hair had to be rolled on pink sponge curlers of course and we had to be sure my shoes were polished and everything was just so! My mother had packed suitable parade clothes for me and although I don’t remember the dress I wore, I do remember the coat. It was a yellow wool coat with a yellow velvet collar and it was beautiful! If that wasn't enough, I had white fur earmuffs and a white fur muff to keep my hands warm. By late afternoon my grandfather and I were all set to go and the word excited can’t begin to describe how I felt. I remember going to the area where the parade was lining up and finding the car we were going to be riding in. It was a long, blue car with the top down. The beauty queen was sitting in the back on top of the seat and two handsome young men were sitting in the seats on either side of her. My grandfather, of course, was driving and I was sitting beside him where I was supposed to stay.
So it was time for the parade to begin, we started down Dexter Avenue and I never gave that beauty queen or the two handsome young men another thought. All I could hear were the bands playing, the bass drums beating and all the people screaming and I was just sure it was all for me! Now let me stop here to explain a few things before I go any further. I loved my grandparents dearly and I loved spending time with them but I didn't pick their grandparent names! I don't know who did. We called my grandfather by his first name, which was Doug. My grandmother's first name was Louise but I didn't know that until I was probably 11 or 12 years old because all of her grandchildren called her Coot. Yes, I said Coot. Ok so having told you that, let’s get back to the parade! As we were moving down Dexter Avenue in the long, blue convertible, with the beauty queen in the back and the two handsome young men on either side of her, I spotted my grandmother, Coot, standing on the sidewalk near the curb. Well there was only one thing to do!! I jumped up in the seat and started yelling at the top of my lungs “Hey Coot, Hey Coot.” I didn’t see a problem with doing it but I guess my grandfather did. I did not know that the name her grandchildren affectionately called her was not know by her friends and acquaintances and I guess she preferred to keep it that way. Anyway, my grandfather pulled me back down in the seat and told me to HUSH!!! I wasn't really sure why but I did as I was told! Montgomery was still a fairly small town then and I guess lots of her friends were there within easy earshot of my voice. The rest of the parade was pretty uneventful, just more bands playing and people screaming but to one little girl in a beautiful yellow coat with white fur accessories and a beauty queen sitting behind her, it was the most magical, memorable night of her life and she won't ever, ever forget it! Thank you Coot and Doug for giving me such a special Christmas memory! P.S. I don’t know what happened to the yellow wool coat, but I still have the white fur accessories!