The Past Perfect: summer memory of Chester Nova Scotia
In Stephen Leacock’s ‘Mariposa’, and Edith Wharton’s ‘age of innocence’, before madmen unleashed the dogs of war and temperance tamed the roaring twenties, there was this: the easy adagio of a summer’s evening spent beneath the beaming grin of a big saucer- moon hung low in the front harbour’s hazy twilight sky; the gentle billow of luminous backlit sails; the gilded lapping oars of row boats carrying courting couples, cutting soft folds in the shimmering satin water, pulling them away from shore towards a private reverie.
Picture bouncing ringlets caught loosely in velvet ribbon, white pinafores, starched petticoats and ruffled parasols; tweed plus-fours and newsboy caps; smart linen suits and jaunty straw boaters; bristling mustaches and barber shop gossip; strawberry socials and tea in dainty china cups.
Did you know that a marching band paraded down Chester Basin’s main street every Sunday? Imagine that, the long sentence of a six-day work week punctuated by John Philip Sousa.
Still, on Sundays during summer evenings the gentle folk of Chester gather around the bandstand listening in a thrall of contented silence to the rippling rhythms of Ragtime, each of them transported to their own past-perfect, Rockwell-imagined world.
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