A loud scream echoed across the valley north of the Neosho High School field house as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard one morning. I stopped and listened and wonder if it had come from one of the houses, north, on Spring Street.


A loud scream echoed across the valley north of the Neosho High School field house as I walked along Wildcat Boulevard one morning. I stopped and listened and wonder if it had come from one of the houses, north, on Spring Street.
Was someone in harm's way? Was someone calling for help? Should I go home and call the police?
Then an owl took up its calling in a much calmer fashion. It murmured and purred quite loudly, but did no more screaming. I walked on, glad the scream had come from a owl and not a person in need.
I was thinking about Memorial Days from the past as I walked along one morning. Decorating graves of friends and relatives was big with my mother. She decorated every grave of everyone of her brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents. She also did the same with my father's side of the family.
In those days we didn't buy bright, artificial flowers. My mother picked real flowers and put them in quart jars buried in front of the tombstones. I am sure this is not allowed today, but seventy years ago it was in the small country cemeteries where my kinfolk were buried.
On our farm, we had a huge area of the back yard covered with lilac bushes. I imagine they had been planted when the farm house had been build sixty years earlier.
These lilacs had never been tended, but spread until they covered an area about 40 by 20 feet. They were usually in full bloom for Memorial Day and my mother picked great armloads of these for grave decorations. She filled the trunk of our 1951 Ford to the top.
With the trunk full of flowers, a dozen or so fruit jars, and several gallons of water in glass, gallon vinegar jars, we headed off to the cemeteries.
We went from grave to grave. If someone had already decorated a grave, like my grandfather's, my mother went on. Still she found many graves to decorate.(She was the baby of a dozen kids.)
Then we drove on to two other cemeteries where a few other relatives were buried. Then we went on to the next little town cemetery where my father's family were buried. Like before, she decorated all the unadorned graves. There are five generations of my father's family in that cemetery, so she usually used all the flowers and jars she had brought along.
We normally did this right after chores on the morning of Memorial Day. She always wanted the graves to look good, as most cemeteries held a Memorial Day service later that morning. I guess this was a ritual she performed each year to show those who she had loved respect yet one more time.
Take a walk, honor those who are gone on the Memorial Day, use those signal lights, and see what you notice or recall while passing along your own Wildcat Boulevard.