Recollections of my first Old Home Day were at the age of five in 1953. My father Donald Markham and Dennis Erickson were co-chairs working tirelessly to reestablish OHD which had withered at the end of WW II from lack of funds, lack of meat (no hamburgs or hotdogs) and support. In the early 1930s, the American Legion and after WW II, jointly with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, organized the summer event.
That August 1st parade included Fife and Drum Corps from EH, Litchfield, Deep River, Chester, Windsor Locks and our EHHS Band. A dozen floats entered representing the Chamber of Commerce, V.F.W. Auxiliary, American Legion and Auxiliary, Belltown Garden Club, Cranmer Club, Rotary Club, Haddam Neck Grange, 46 Club - Eastern Star, Girl Scouts and Rebekah Lodge. Fire Departments from surrounding towns of East Haddam, Cromwell, Durham and Middletown joined our EH Volunteers. The State Police Color Guard led other marching units - the Middletown Police, V.F.W. and American Legion, Sons of Union Veterans and Spanish-American War Veterans, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cubs and Brownies who stepped off from the old Town Hall.
I guess what brings back the most vivid memory of that 1953 Old Home Day was trigger this past week on the passing of Richard Hitchcock. Richard, who Co-chaired the Parade Committee, and my Dad were best friends. The morning of Old Home Day, my father took me with Richard to erect an American Flag for a widow living on West High Street near the entrance to the Middle School. You see, every year, homes would be decorated with American Flags to welcome all back to our community. This past weeks event has kept up this tradition with telephone poles lining Main Street, North Main, East High, West High and others display our flag.
I never knew the widow's name, but after the bracket and flag was installed, she had us come to attention, salute and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and then I, with my cap gun (do you remember the rolls of red paper caps?) fired 3 rounds in honor of all who had served.