Thanks for the memories Pamda! What a nice piece! I would love to read your article "Silver Spoons and Golden Slippers”.
Mummery was so much a part of my childhood and family heritage. Yes, lots of Irish and Italian Americans are in the parade but don’t forget the Polish and German Americans (my family is of German ancestry). Grandpa belonged to the Greater Overbrook String Band from the West Philadelphia section of the city. He was a line Captain. He had all daughters but a son-in-law (my Uncle Al) carried on the tradition, as did his son Al Jr. Both played the banjo. Unfortunately Al III who is now 23 has no interest. If born male surely my mother and I would have strutted up Broad Street with my Grandfather. As it was, we had to be happy with sitting in the stands at City Hall to watch the parade. Well, at least we were able to get primo seating! After the parade we would take a taxi to the club where all the families gathered for a buffet and partying to the wee hours to await the results of the judges. I can almost smell the roast beef sandwiches and that distinctive “Taproom” smell.
As children, my sister and I would love to explore the basement of my grandparent’s home and see his old costumes. At Halloween he would do our make-up as he had quite a collection of grease paint. How I loved all the ostrich feathers in every color of the rainbow!
And talk about the “Mummer’s Strut”, no wedding (or other large party) was really in high gear until the guests requested and started dancing to “Oh Dem Golden Slippers”.
It’s been too many years since I have seen the parade. It seems to be our luck that when we visit the family for New Years, weather causes the parade to be cancelled till the next weekend! I could never understand why it never made it to national TV like the Rose Bowl Parade! At least one of the cable stations could pick it up! Maybe we need to give the Parade another try this year.
Thanks for bringing back so many fond memories.