Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #45

Carol Leonard's picture

The Warner Fall Foliage Festival Parade
In the late fall of 1983, Susie has the great idea that we should enter
a float in the competition in the Warner Fall Foliage Festival parade.
She has somehow finagled the Kearsarge Reel Company to donate
one of their long flatbed trailers to us for the event. The theme for
our float is The Wizard of Oz, and a bunch of us, apprentices and our
families, spend days transforming the flatbed into Oz. I want it to
be called The Sorceresses of OS, but that doesn’t fly.
We paint an Emerald City, with a yellow brick road running
the length of the truck. One of our apprentices is an Amazonian
Dorothy. She is perfect, with her hair in long, dark braids tied with
ribbons; white knee-highs in spray-painted ruby slippers; and an
innocent, flouncy, gingham-checked dress with a bib front. (Where
she unearthed this little number, I will never know.) She even has
a real Toto—a horrible, yappy little Yorkshire terrier someone has
lent her for the day—in a picnic basket. She is the quintessential
Dorothy—except she is six feet tall.
Milan is the wizard, of course; he is way into wizards at the time.
His wizard is more Merlin-esque, but he looks great and wise with a
long gray beard and bushy eyebrows glued on with spirit gum. He
takes this role very seriously.
Susie gets to be Glinda, the good witch, which means, obviously,
I am relegated to being the Wicked Witch of the West. I ask her
how this happened, and she says it is typecasting. I don’t argue,
because it’s true.
268 Carol Leonard
Susie has on a frothy, white ball gown and a glittery tiara and
wand, rented from a local costumer. It is a size-five dress, and Susie
is a size ten, so we pin the back closed with diaper pins. One little
girl says to Susie, in awe, “You look beauty-full.”
I have fun with my character, even though she’s so blatantly
stereotypical of all powerful women in myth who are depicted as
“evil.” Though it belittles my religion, I do the expected frightening
look, with peaked, conical hat; long, black, scraggly hair; long
fingernails; standard warty nose; and great, striped stockings with
cowboy boots. After three layers of black eyeliner, the effect is
I practice my one line: “I’ll get you, my little pretty!”
We invite all the little kids from the Warner area who have
been born at home to ride on the float with us as Munchkins. On
the day of the parade, the children arrive in varying degrees of
darling Munchkin-ness. We give them all large cardboard swirled
“lollipops” to carry as a souvenir. The kids turn out in droves. It
is a raw, blustery day, and all the Munchkins are shivering. Some
organized parents have the foresight to bring huge thermoses
of hot chocolate for the residents of Lollipop Land, so everyone
remains happy and excited about being in a parade.
There are about fifty kids on the float with us, all waving and
licking their “lollipops.” When we hit Main Street, the Munchkins
throw out balloons to the crowd that read “Concord Midwifery Service,
For A Special Delivery.” Below the float, people are scrambling for the
As we pass the judges stand, the master of ceremonies reads
over the loudspeaker the banner that is printed on the side of our
We win first prize.


turtle's picture
Submitted by turtle on

I loved the story of your parade float. You were all so clever & funny. Somehow, it also made me cry a little.

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. -- Emily Dickinson

You want to do what you think is right and what matters to you, and if other people don't like it, as my father would have said, they can go fuck themselves. -- Amy Bloom