It was the summer of 1948. I was eight years old. My mother and I were invited to go to Augusta, the capital city of the State of Maine, for a special afternoon celebration of the Three-Quarter-Century-Club.
Since I have already explained my age, it should be obvious, that the three-quarter-century, wouldn’t describe my mother, but if you guessed it to include one of my grandparents, you would be correct. My Grandpa, William Herbert Glidden, had celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday on May tenth of that year; therefore, he was eligible to be a member in good standing of the Three-Quarter-Century-Club.
As we approached the Augusta Armory building that lovely summer afternoon with Grandpa and my Aunt Charlotte, who drove us there, I had no idea what to expect, but I soon realized the place was filled with a huge crowd of very happy old people! The folks milled around with greetings of those who hadn’t seen one another for long periods of time. I overheard conversations and witnessed hugs that told me of family connections from different parts of the state.
Even at my age, there was joy in observing these reunions, but to my delight there were more surprises to come. A hush fell as everyone found folding chair seating in that huge building. Attention was directed to the stage. The men who stood there fit the three-quarter-century (and more) qualifications, as they cradled their well-tuned and warmed-up fiddles, ready to start the entertainment of the afternoon. And what an entertainment it was! Fiddle-playing at its finest was presented to the constantly-smiling, foot-tapping, (sometimes foot-stomping!) audience. All too soon it, like all good things, had to come to an end. As I write this, I am fully aware that the fiddle-playing of those particular men has also ended; however the memory of the joy they gave this girl that warm summer afternoon of her eighth year lingers like the resonant sounds of a bow on the strings.
Three-quarters of a century seemed old to me that day. Today, it doesn’t seem so old. Today, my brother, Kent Wilmer Libby, celebrates his seventy-fifth birthday. Although he says the winter has been a rough one, he definitely is not as old as the long-ago men who played those fiddles! If the Three-Quarter-Century-Club is still around, Kent is eligible to be a member in good standing, just as our grandpa was, but times and people have changed. I doubt the club is still in existence. An Internet search provided no information about it. Of course, there are still wonderful gatherings of great fiddle-players who bring crowds of happy folks together to help create memories for new generations, but whether we celebrate with fiddles or phone calls, three-quarters of a century is still something marvelous to celebrate.
HAPPY THREE-QUARTERS-OF-A-CENTURY, KENT!
© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 4-13-2011