BY-WAYS - 1/16/47 - Tournament of Roses

"Tournament of Roses!" What a beautiful phrase! As in the days when knighthood was in flower, the roses and all their lovely companions rode down the queen's highway and conquered all our hearts. There just could not be a more beautiful sight this side of Heaven. Oh, yes, there were knights in shining armor. Sir Galahad never rode a more beautiful or more spirited horse than some of those that pranced down Colorado Street in the brilliant California sunshine on the first day of the new year. Roy Rogers, with his waltzing horse; Leo Carillo; and many other celebrities were there on horseback, their silver trappings gleaming in the sun. Cousin Knox said that some of those saddles cost thousands of dollars. The task of the judges is not an enviable one. So beautiful were those floats that it must have been hard to decide which should get the prize. For sheer beauty of color our amateur vote went to the Dutch garden of tulips - gorgeous tulips - with a blue windmill (of flowers) at the rear, and four dear little "Dutch" girls in their blue and white costumes. In fact, this float, sponsored by Van di Kamp's Bakery, won the grand prize in its class - a commercial float.

As you probably know, the Glendale entry, an eight-foot statue of George Washington kneeling in the snow at Valley Forge, won the sweepstakes. Beautiful Mt. Vernon could be seen in the background. Many people thought this was not the most beautiful float. But certainly it stirred the deepest emotions, and seemed peculiarly fitting at this time, when the memory of four terrible years of war is still with us - and we still long to maintain the high ideals of that great man, who daily prayed for help. That float symbolizes our prayerful hope for the attainment of permanent peace. A background of bronze leaves sent here from North Carolina formed the body of the float. Red and white carnations formed a brilliant shield in front. Of course it is a matter of civic pride with Virgil and me that our Long Beach float won first prize in its class. A mammoth float - forty feet long - it depicted our great port, with a floral lighthouse in the background, and waves of blue-and-white breaking around it. A solid blanket of blue flowers was the "water," with the breakwater of Talisman roses. In the harbor rode three ships - a battleship, freighter, and passenger ship. Five lovely girls gave life and charm to the whole picture. That was true of every float. One of the smallest but most effective was the float representing Pasadena City Schools. A boys' choir of 39 voices, with their director at the organ, seated in the "chancel" of a church, with all the exquisite architecture of the early missions - all done in flowers. A beautiful stained glass window, framed in flowers, formed the background.

Oh, I could go on and on. It was like entering a new world of loveliness. One stands in awe before the lavish beauty of millions of flowers, every one of which has to be glued or wired into place. Once in a while, an engine, literally smothered with flowers, would get too hot and an S.O.S. would be sent out for a towing tractor. There were 55 floats, and - I believe - 40 bands - every one of them in snappy uniform and well rehearsed. Two out-of-state bands were there - one from Washington, one from Oregon. It was estimated that 1,500,000 people witnessed that parade. And how did the police handle such vast crowds? By the unique system of directing from the air. The Pasadena chief of police was cruising in a blimp overhead, and, by the two-way radio system, directed his men in all the traffic lanes. It was a marvelous piece of work.

We usually think of an ironing board as used for pressing. But this time an ironing board was pressed into heavy duty. Cousin Knox, who is a veteran "Tournamentarian," took two kitchen step-ladders and an old, but sturdy ironing board - and that was our grandstand stand. Quite perfect. And Knox is the perfect host. Cousin Laird came along, too, but he preferred terra firma, and insisted that he saw every bit of the parade. By the way, I have overlooked two important items: 1. The theme of the parade, which was "Holidays in Flowers" - and certainly every known holiday was represented. Item 2: Bob Hope, the ever-popular radio and screen comedian, was the grand marshal. His beautiful wife was at his side. The Long Beach float was brought to its home base the next day, and Virgil and I went down to the City Hall (four blocks from our house) to see it in the evening. The fragrance of the flowers scented the air; but the flowers were beginning to droop and die. I thought, as we stood there, of the impermanence of earthly things - even beautiful things. And my thoughts turned to the one who I think was the "flower" of your Presbyterian Church - Mrs. Simon P. Hine. The beauty of her life can never fade. She enriched every life that touched hers. Every privileged person who sat at her feet and learned of God and the True Way of Life must feel a sacred responsibility to catch up the torch and march on. In the one beautiful letter I had from her after her husband's death, she wrote of missing him so much. Her fine son, Thomas - only a Gold Star mother can know the anguish of parting with a son so dear. She was very tired. Her work was done. Great shall be her reward in Heaven.

Florence B. Taylor.

Next - - 1/23/47 - Virge's 21st Birthday
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