I grew up in a small town. When I was in college, I used to describe it as 699 people and 1 stoplight. It is a little larger than that now– population now around 1,100 with 3 stoplights–but it is definitely still a small town.
My hometown is a pretty special place, though.
The area has dozens of lakes. Seventy-five to be exact (in the county).
Because of all these lakes, the area is very popular with weekend visitors. Many people drive several hours just to spend a couple of days “at the lake.” We lovingly call these visitors “Lakers.” They arrive in droves on Memorial Day Weekend and are there all summer until Labor Day weekend, with more on the weekends. They rent cottages or stay in hotels; they float on pontoons, ski behind power boats and fish until their hearts are content.
The big summer event happens in June, though.
Every year since 1945 during the last full week of June, the Lions Club in my hometown has hosted a Mermaid Festival. There is a carnival, elephant ears, salt water taffy, caramel corn, a beauty pageant and a cutie contest, a talent contest, and two parades with floats and marching bands.
Mom and I were in the old Rinker’s store which is now a consignment antique mall looking at the antiques. Mom saw one of the old mermaid signs that used to hang on the downtown streetlight poles during the Mermaid Festival. The signs were painted by a local artist and some people thought they were a little too risqué.
Mom started talking about how much a local feisty elderly woman hated the mermaids and actually took a shot at one that someone put out by her house (as a joke).
The elderly woman got arrested and hauled into “the hoosegow.”(Mom’s word for jail.)
I said something like she shouldn’t have a gun if she thinks it is reasonable to go around shooting at mermaids.
A lady came around the corner and said, “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I’m over here freaking out because I thought my whole life mermaids were NOT real.”
I chuckled and assured her that she was indeed correct in her assumption that mermaids were not real — and then went on to explain we were talking about mermaid SIGNS not actual mermaids. She looked relieved and we all had a good laugh.