” For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.”

Today is much chillier than yesterday though still sunny. I was on the deck for only a few minutes this morning before I felt cold and came back inside. Gracie followed me. She is my barometer. If Gracie stays outside, it’s warm. If not, it’s a bit chilly. She’s looking out the front door right now. It’s her view to the world, the small world of our street.

Outside is quiet. Not even a dog is barking. Yesterday I could hear lawn mowers and blowers. Today I hear birds. I know when it gets warm enough to open the windows, I’ll hear all the sounds around me: cars going down the street, people talking, dogs barking at each other and kids laughing and yelling, the ones who live at the other end of my road. My bedroom window is already open, but it’s late when I go to bed so all is quiet.

We always had the May procession around the middle of the month. Every single grade, from 1 to 8, took part. The first grades, for a few weeks before the big day, were taught the songs while the rest of us just practiced a little. We sang the same songs every year so once you learned them they stayed in your head. I still know the words to a couple of them. We all wore our best clothes, girls in dresses and boys in creased pants, shirts and ties. The second graders wore their white first communion suits and dresses. The procession was a long block walk. We sang as we walked. The sidewalks were lined with mostly parents. It wasn’t like a parade with cheering, but there were some claps to acknowledge us. We always ended at the grotto next to the church where there was a statue of Mary in a niche. Every year it was an eighth grader who climbed stairs to the niche and crowned Mary with flowers while everyone sang Oh, Mary We crown thee with blossoms today. When I was an eighth grader, I was chosen to crown Mary. It was quite the honor. I was nervous, and I remember climbing the stairs and finding I couldn’t quite get the crown on her head. It was a little too high so the priest who was spotting me on the stairs sort of pulled my arm a little higher and I was able to crown Mary with the flowers.

After the crowning we all walked in a procession to the schoolyard which was just behind the grotto. The procession ended there and the photo ops began. Groups stood on the school lawn and parents used their Brownies to snap pictures. One of my favorites is all of us in what must have been our Easter dresses and my brother in his first communion white suit. He was seven then, and I was eight. The front group is kneeling on the grass, and we are all pretending to pray. That picture makes me smile. I know my mother put us up to the pretend praying. It’s not anything we’d have ever done on our own. We’d probably been running around playing on the lawn, May procession or not.

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12 Comments on “” For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.””

  1. Birgit Says:

    While we are patiently waiting for your music, here is
    “Oh Mary We crown thee with blossoms today”
    (with some nice pictures and lyrics)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_fln4An7G4

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I love it. I haven’t heard that song probably since I was in the 8th grade. Thanks so much for finding it. Our voices, however, were a lot less melodic!

  2. olof1 Says:

    We had nothing like that here, protestants as we were. I find these traditions fascinating but really can’t understand them 🙂 Well we do have the Lucia procession in December of course but only a few chosed are allowed to walk in that.

    Summer here today, orpre summer as we call it when it gets summer warmth in spring. Cherry trees in blossom and everything is green except for my apple trees 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      May is Mary’s month so we honor her with the procession and crowing. In the song she is Queen of the angels and Queen of the May.

      I love St. Lucia! I am the oldest so I would be the one!!

      Beautiful here today, and I saw so many tress in blossom and flowers blooming when I went out.

  3. Bob Says:

    I went to public school before Madelyn Murray O’Hare sued to get prayer out of public schools. Since Texas is the buckle of the Bible Belt we heard lots of Southern Baptist prayer. They never mentioned Mary with or without a crown of flowers.

    The May procession sounds like a fun time for a kid. Anything that gets them out of class is a good thing in every kid’s mind.

    We had some big super cell thunderstorms Wednesday night that brought us needed rain but also spawned several killer tornadoes that wiped out a subdivision in Glen Rose Texas. Today is warm with clouds ad high humidity.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      The May procession was always on a Sunday so we never missed class. It was sort of neat when we were younger but less so as we got older.

      We said a prayer every morning and that was it. We ha to take religion as one of our classes and had catechisms, but they didn’t have prayers just stuff about the kinds of sin and other pieces of theology.

      I saw pictures of the tornadoes on TV. They were horrific.

      Beautiful day today. We won’t get much humidity until August.

      • Bob Says:

        In the 1950s we always had a devotional, a prayer, on the PA system after the morning announcements. Before each lunch period one student would take the microphone of the PA system in the lunch room and offer a prayer before everyone ate. Of course every prayer ended “in Jesus name we pray”. Of course back then the only kids who might be offended were the two or three Jewish kids. There were no Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus or Shinto kids in those white bread segregated days.

        If you played on a sports team, the coach would conduct a prayer before each practice session or game. Very few Jewish kids played varsity football or basketball. I found that out second hand since I was the kid who was always picked last during playground sports.

  4. katry Says:

    Bob,
    You prayed more than we did and mine was a Catholic school. I don’t remember praying before lunch but I think we might have.

    Down here on the cape there are still no Buddhists et all. The schools are careful not to schedule anything on Jewish high holidays.

    I played softball.

    • Bob Says:

      Texas is one of the most conservative places on earth. There are still public schools in some small towns that still conduct public daily prayers despite the Supreme Court. The only Catholics in those towns are hispanics and they don’t have any political power. A judge here in Texas the other day ruled that people could hold up signs with bible verses in the stands during high school football games. High School football in Texas is only one step below attending church on Sundays. Most people in these small towns are Southern Baptists or Methodists with a few Church of Christ and some Pentecostal holy rollers mixed in for good measure. Remember the book, the movie and the TV show Friday Night Lights?

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        I get the sign holding. I figure that’s a first amendment right. Yes, I do remember Friday Night Lights, and I’ve seen documentaries about thee rabid football fans in Texas even going to far as to red shirt high school freshmen.

        I’ll take my liberal Massachusetts any time, even in the winter!

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    All my cousins on my father’s side are Catholic so I often went to Catholic church things. I remember the May parade in the local parish. My cousins used to be in it every year. The parish stopped it after they moved to their new building in the early 60’s. I suspect that the outdoor statue of Mary, which was the one that received the crown, had been put into storage for the move and was not resurrected until a few years ago. There was a huge rock outcrop next to the new church which was completely covered with juniper bushes. The parish ladies put a small sanctuary garden at the side of the outcrop nearest the church. They added some electric votives and a bench and a statue of Mary which just might be the old outside statue from the original parish building. She doesn’t get a crown in May anymore. Just the beautiful flowers all around her.
    The church is one street up from my house so I often walk my dog through there in the early hours of the day. I know that the outcrop serves also as a shelter for rabbits, coyotes and foxes who all seem to live there without bothering each other. I like to think it’s the beneficent presence of Our Lady of the Critters maintaining the peace. 🙂
    I’m late reading this post so I hope your day was enjoyable.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      The grotto where I crowned was removed when they expanded and renovated the church, a long overdue move as it wasn’t handicap accessible. The statue of Mary and the rocks were saved, and the grotto was rebuilt next to the newer part of the church.

      I like that-Our Lady of Critters!

      We lived about a fifteen minute walk from the church and school. I haven’t been there much except for funerals, I wanted to be at the 100 year anniversary of the grammar school, but my sister forgot to tell me. I have such memories of it I wanted to see it now.

      It was a wonderful day.


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