C 2004 By Gracie Prior
The football field was draped in garlands of red, white, and blue. Streamers hung from the goalposts. The stage at the side of the field was all ready for act one of the big history of Harrisburg, all one hundred and fifty years, with a painted prairie background in place.
The Scribblers were honored and sat in the front row. All the parents were beside them, even Jimmy’s dad. It turns out that on the night of the tragedy, he had been detained at work. He had found out about the awful series of events the next day. He now sat beside Jimmy who was in his new wheelchair on a small platform so he could see. Right after the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, the writers were announced and they received a rousing applause.
Mary wore a long dress of blue and white calico and a sunbonnet hung from her neck. Terry was made up like a Daniel Boone-type character, Butch was a Sheriff and Jimmy was a cowboy.
The high school band came on the field and played several songs about frontier days. They marched in their blue and white uniforms and their instruments caught the last of the setting sun.
Lights came on stage and the first act began. It was a tale of a traveler, Cyrus McGee who had come from the east and settled the land in this part of Ohio. He brought his wife and ten children. McGee named the place Pleasant Ridge, but the town grew and a newspaperman named Frank Harris appeared. Having a paper was such a big deal; the town was changed to Harrisburg.
The play went on for about an hour. Mary was in the first act as a pioneer wife and Terry played her hunter husband. Then somewhere in the middle of the play, Sheriff Butch caught outlaws and Jimmy sat on hay bales and told some cowboy tales. The last act, the one the Scribblers were so excited about, had a panorama of transportation from the simplest walkers to the automobile. At the head of the line were the Mayor of Harrisburg, Ohio’s Governor, and then living relatives of Cyrus McGee. Next came Mary, Butch, and Terry. After the walkers came horses and horse conveyances. Then wheeled items like bicycles, scooters, and at the end waving and smiling came Jimmy in his wheel chair. He moved it all by himself. No one hurried him. He got the attention, the photos, and lots of verbal support as he made his way across the stage. By now, all the townspeople had heard of Jimmy’s accident and he was a minor celebrity. Not only because he was so innocent, but because of his good humor and cheerful outlook. Next on stage came motorcycles, ridden by Harrisburg’s finest police officers, and lastly, the model-T car driven by one of the McGees.
At the end there were fireworks and a wonderful band concert of patriotic songs. Miss Grace, the Scribbler’s former teacher, came and hushed the crowd.
“As you know, one of our writers, Jimmy Falcon, had an awful accident recently. He and his friends the Scribblers still managed to finish this script for tonight’s performance. We would like to donate all the proceeds of tonight’s activities, minus expenses, to the Jimmy Falcon Fund. We all want Jimmy to have a new operation that his doctors believe will help him to walk again.”
After the speech, people cheered and a few of them stood up. Then a few more. After awhile the whole crowd gave Jimmy a standing ovation. He looked around in his chair and waved his cowboy hat.
Later at home, Jimmy’s mom helped him to bed. “That was nice, all the cheering, and the money for my operation, but I felt sort of funny. I didn’t do anything to deserve all that. Mary, Butch, and Terry did just as much.”
Mrs. Falcon smiled. “That’s just the town’s way of giving you support, Jimmy. If I were you, I’d accept it.”
Jimmy pondered that for a moment. “I guess a guy would have to be stupid to refuse. And Mom, I may be a lot of things, but, Sir Jimmy is not stupid.”
(Next week: trouble with Mrs. Frumpstead. See you then.)