Clyde: Avoid the crowds; what’s the hurry?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 20, 2020

By Clyde

What’s the hurry? The words just don’t seem to work anymore.

Hurry-up is not the same recently and hurry on down used to preclude a party atmosphere was about to commence. Before the turn of the century, 19th, our confused existence was still fooled by the 1771 Ptolemaic system with the earth at the center of our universe. “While earth rolls onward into light as o’er each continent and island, the dawn leads on another day,” we sing at St. Luke’s Evensong.

People didn’t invent hurry scurry until 1754, and, after that, things got hectic. A revolution, new flags, and the rush to settle new land and find gold nuggets at the foot of the mountains; rightly we call it Piedmont, like in Italy.

Crowds come in all sizes. It’s hard to estimate just how many. They say, over 1,000 covered wagons a year came across the Square on the way to PeeDee or going west with ol’ Dan Boone to the Cumberland Gap. You can see a Nissen wagon at the Museum. Hurry or be left out.

Court days and hangings brought out the worst of us and the most of us. On September 25, 1903, in the case of Thomas and Chalmers White charged with the murder of Russell Sherrill, “as never before, the crowds began to pour into the city as early as sunrise. They crowded the lobbies of the hotels and other public places. From Mt. Ulla  some came on horseback, some in buggies, some in carriages and others in wagons.” Hold your horses. No social distancing back then.

Hordes of citizens came to hear Carrie Nation’s “No Saloon” speech before she had to be escorted out of town.  By order of A.H. Boyden, Mayor, “notice is hereby given on the 3rd day of Nov. 1903, the question of saloons or no saloons will be submitted to the qualified voters of the city.” Sober ones, of course. “Make haste to help me, O God!”

Everybody loves a big parade — the women’s right to vote, the Fireman’s Convention, Victory over Hitler, Holiday Caravan or Faith Fourth of July, where 30,000 came to get a glimpse of George H. W. Bush. Paul Bernhardt’s Hardware doorbuster paint sales were notorious to draw a crowd, not unlike today’s Hap’s segmented line up to the Square. Take a number and wait. Most recently,  the roughly 70,000 that stood in line to drink Cheerwine would be the largest throng in the history books, not soon to be repeated, alas . . .

When’s the last time you queued for anything? Will your grandchildren believe those stories of mass gatherings, concerts, sports arenas, outdoor festivals, mega-churches and crowded restaurants? “Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across a crowded room.” It takes a great many strange people to make a world. So, the next time you are quarantined, “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” and you are stuck with time on your hands and things are as quiet as a pine stump, go out in a field and make daisy or clover chains. Just remember the bustling crowds on streets downtown, fast cars dragging, circus trains, Friday night outs, Trick-or-Treat, frantic Xmas shopping, bands, bars or in a hurry to get a bargain at Krazy Kleranz. We have left a lot of footprints.

Larissa hopes those good ol’ days of retail therapy will soon return. Meanwhile, hold your cold potato and wait. Avoid the crowds. Slow down. What’s the big hurry? Proverbs 19:2 says “. . . and he that hasteth with his feet, sinneth.”

Clyde lives in Salisbury.