National Night Out in Lamar

Last night the Lamar Neighborhood Watch organized an observation of National Night Out, an evening dedicated to supporting law enforcement and encouraging strong community building.  Most communities observe National Night Out in August, but Texas and other States observe it on the first Tuesday in October, when the weather is a good bit cooler.  August in the South is rarely a good time to host outdoor events.

My walking buddy neighbor helped organize the event, but he took a unique approach to it:  rather than having one person or a committee coordinating all of the participants, he invited residents to host whatever bit of entertainment and fun they could muster.  The result was a small but truly grassroots street festival.

When he approached me about the idea in August, he asked if I could play some music on Main Street.  He recommended I reach out to the owner of the town’s lone grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, who also owns a small insurance agency across the street.  My neighbor reasoned that with the Baptist Church on one end of Main Street doing something and the Methodist Church on the other end, having some music going in the middle of Main Street would be a nice touch.

After some rounds of phone tag, I was able to secure access to the insurance agency’s office (where we just need to plug in power), and my buddy John and I set up his small PA with a couple of mics, his guitar, and my keyboard.  We put out a tip jar, which I advertised with a sign reading “Give your coppers for the coppers,” and notifying attendees that all tips would be donated to the Lamar Police Department.

The festival itself was small, but lively.  The two candidates for mayor were out campaigning, and the Cajun restaurant down the street had a good crowd.  My walking buddy was playing a movie at the library (his wife is the head librarian), and I believe at least one residence had a cotton candy machine going at her home.

John and I had our little spot under the awning of the insurance agency, and while foot traffic near us was not huge, we had a good time (and, according to a student of mine who works at the Piggly Wiggly, we could be heard in the parking lot clearly).  We played from roughly 6:10 PM to about 7:50 PM without a break—a solid 100 minutes of music.  It was fun being back out and playing in public again, and it was good practice for the Spooktacular.

It’s also cool just getting to play in such an unusual spot.  I’ve played gigs in some weird spots—a robotics factory in rural Darlington County, South Carolina; in a church gymnasium; at a hookah lounge in Wilmington, North Carolina—but there’s always something particularly engaging and lively about playing in unorthodox settings.

The fact that we were on Main Street made it even more fun.  While Lamar isn’t exactly a teeming metropolis, there is still a pulse to Main Street, the kind of pulse that beats in the heart of any city.  Sure, sometimes that pulse was the thundering clatter and rumble of a semi-truck carrying empty chicken crates, but it was mostly the people out and about enjoying the evening.

So, how did we do for the police department?  Eh, not great.  John and I raised a whopping $6 in tips.  I counted out the loose change I already had in my tip jar, and that came out to $6.40, so combined we generated $12.40.  That might buy Chief a good lunch, at least.

Still, as my walking neighbor said, it’s all about planting a seed.  It was a good start for National Night Out, and I look for it to grow in the future.

88 thoughts on “National Night Out in Lamar

    • Amen! It was so fun seeing people pull together their own little events. My neighbor who spearheaded the general concept was a bit disappointed that more people and groups weren’t involved, but he was pleased to see the participants and attendees he did.

      Liked by 2 people

      • These things build over time – when word gets out that folks had fun, others will remember when it’s walk time next year.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes! That’s what I told him this morning. I think as people get a better sense for what National Night Out is, and what the intent is supposed to be, more people will participate. I’d love to see it develop into an organic street festival with people coming out and having a good time.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Years ago in another life, the very small village where I lived held an imaginatively named Village Day to raise money for a new hall. The first year was somewhat ad hoc but everyone got into the spirit. There was a dog show for local mutts, a tug of war competition for burly half drunk farmers, a Greek Cypriot friend cooked and sold lamb kebabs from his garden, there were plant stalls and bric a brac in the church along with the inevitable tea and cakes and so on. All great fun. After that it just got bigger and bigger with each passing year although along the way some of the initial fun was lost but lots of money was raised and in due course a swanky stone hall was constructed . As far as I am aware Kilmersdon Village Day it is still held, well apart from the last two Covid stricken years of course and the first one was in 1986 if I remember correctly.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Reading that made me so happy, Alys. That’s the kind of civic spirit I want to see here in Lamar—everyone banding together to support their town. It’s such a beautiful picture of folks coming together to help out in a way that is FUN. Hopefully National Night Out will become something like that. I’d love to make a $1240 donation to the police department, rather than a $12.40 one—but it’s a start!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Laughing! Piggly Wiggly is like a grocery/convenience store; according to the story, the man who owns the Piggly Wiggly also owns an insurance company. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTd1hIiVRnk.

      There’s a 70s/80s horror movie – which name escapes me but maybe Port can supply – that has a Piggly Wiggly in it. The movie had to do with machines attacking humans – big rigs, combines, every machine – to kill the humans. It was very over the top and a terrible movie but it was so much fun, you sort of forgave it, lol!

      Maximum Overdrive!!! It just came to me!!! If you watch the movie, you’ll notice one of the trucks is a Piggly Wiggly truck, lol!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20BeizHnW3s.

      Liked by 3 people

      • In the unlikely event of me ever making it to the US a Piggly Wiggly will be on my list of places to visit. Never mind the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls I want to go grocery shopping for tater tots and vanilla pudding.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I wasn’t ware they still existed under that name, it is (or was) not only the first supermarket but a huge chain. One of my Aunts was married to a district manager for the Pig in central Minnesota. He was a drag, a pure accountant type, but the signs were about the cutest ever.

        Sounds a good time, just don’t let it get too over the top, and where the dickens is the beer garden? It’s supposed to be next to the Lion’s club hog roast after all.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I humbly suggest you get your Nebraska butt to South Carolina for the next Walk Night and get that bbq set up, buddy. Better bring the beer, too.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Yep! Piggly Wiggly is now largely a regional chain in the South. We have a lot of them in South Carolina, especially here in the Pee Dee region. They are a bit pricier than other grocery stores, but I really appreciate having the ability to walk to the grocery store to buy food and sundries. Otherwise it’s a twenty-minute drive one-way to Florence.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Same for me here, a bit more at my independent (a few still exists) but beats driving 20 odd miles to Lexington, not to mention that Wal-Marthas hurt the local store there. The walking four block doesn’t hurt me any either.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Thanks Audre, I’ll give them a watch.

    Completely off topic but has anyone noticed that the Honda Jazz is the most boring car on the road? No spontaneity, nothing outside the box, nothing bouncy or vibrant, everything jazz is, yet Honda produced this name for what is effectively a tin of spam with wheels. I just thought I’d mention that since I’ve been stuck behind a few of them over the last few days.

    Liked by 3 people

      • The Hybrid looks a bit better, though it’s a spam tin with a pull handle, but the white Jazz further down that link is what those non jazzy cars look like. If that car could play in a jazz club, it’d sound like a clown trumpet and then would saunter off stage for a non fat, soya based latte.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed! Hondas are quite reliable. I heard years ago that the most stolen car in America was the Civic, haha, because there was big money to be made in stripping them and selling the parts to unwitting Civic owners. Gotta love free enterprise. ; D

        Liked by 1 person

    • Not sure we have it, at least by that name. But aside from a few, Dodges mostly with names like Hellcat and Viper, cars are all like that from the smallest rice burner to Cadillac. European ones (including British) are occasionally acceptable. But even so, American and British cars both peaked in 1966, the last year they were designed by the car companies. Starting in 1967 the government took over, and Americans started the switch that would make the Ford F-100/150 the largest selling vehicle in the world.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Don’t tell anyone but Lon’s got a shrine out in the garage dedicated to the Ford F150. He finally sold Red (1984!!!) just one or two years ago. Mileage done gone round at least three times! Hardly any floor board left on the driver’s side, drivers seat down to a thin piece of fabric over springs … and someone actually BOUGHT it!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Actually 39, Honda Jazz may be boring but I just had to part with my ancient Civic, a car which in sixteen years never let me down. I would love to have been able to afford a Jazz but out of my orice league these days.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The Honda Civic is a very good, dependable vehicle. My older brother LOVES his Civic, and has told me that the next time I purchase a car, he will pay the difference between whatever vehicle I am considering and the comparable Honda equivalent.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Port – they must have moved the insurance, according to what you note above; it used to across the aisle from the Depends. (I’m crackin’ up over here, lol)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I can’t. I tried to write some identity politics in gaming articles for TCW and they wouldn’t allow them. I had to write them for Going Postal instead. They could do with a mix of articles covering different aspects of life on there and I reckon a lot of people might be interested in the idea that the identity whining nutjobs are getting their claws into gaming too.

    As for the Jazz, it riles me that anyone could put out what is essentially a box and give it a name like that. It’d be like calling the Biden administration fun and interesting. Well, Weekend at Bernie’s was fun, which is essentially what Biden’s administration is but at least that film had a point to it! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • They need it, it’s become nearly monomaniacal about Wuhan Flu. Most of what little I know about gaming comes from Ace’s, billed as a smart military blog but in reality, mostly conservative politico-military blog.

      It’s why mine is mixed, and others do a fair amount of college football; “Roll Tide” and “Boiler Up”. Makes a nice mix, the 19th Indiana, and the 3d Virginia, in the Cornfield. But the point is, all politics makes a dull blog, and an even duller blogger, even if they are brilliant, as TCW is.

      Liked by 3 people

      • You have to understand – ‘lockdown’ in the UK was far worse than what we had here. And they were locked down THREE TIMES! Now their government is pushing for children to be vaccinated – the little ones – and no one speaks out against it except for the authors and management for TCW. But it’s exhausting emotionally as well as intellectually when there are places all over the internet explaining that the vaccination isn’t needed for children and their government doesn’t listen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In that context, it makes a great deal of sense. I weep to see what is happening in Britain and Australia, the latter of which seems even WORSE than the former, if that is possible.

        Thank God for federalism here in the United States; otherwise, we’d be going through the same. Not that Biden, et. al., aren’t trying, but we have more constitutional and legal means to block them.

        Like

      • Exactly. I understand why TCW is all vax all day but at the same time – there are other things going on in the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Covid thing just took over here Tyler. People were whipped up into a frenzy of paranoia and near hysteria, we were even encouraged to go outside on Thursday evenings to clap for the NHS for goodnessake. I was astonished at the levels of compliance with every government edict about mask wearing, hand sanitising, social distancing etc. Mental. Although TCW put a valiant fight against the excesses of it all they sadly went over the top and the result as you can see amongst those of us here who were once regular commenters and occasional contributors was just boredom. Also I think they have too many different writers now and it feels as if the site has lost its way. I know 39 still does the odd piece for them but although there are things I felt I could contribute I just lost interest.

        I like it here. Feels comfy. Audre is here so I am happy.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I remember seeing the people clapping for the NHS, which I thought was ridiculous. Your point about TCW featuring too many writers and losing its thread—its voice—is an interesting one. I’ve had the occasional guest contributor (I actually had a lady approach me about submitting a piece about freelancing, which may go up next week), but I like to take care of most of the writing myself.

        That said, I have been thrilled by the increase in commenters here, and I am so glad you feel at home. Audre is certainly a big boon (I should have her write something for the blog!). You are welcome to submit a piece any time. Same for Ponty, et. al.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Tyler, I am Welsh so we don’t go in for the stiff upper lip thing in quite the same way as the English but we are a resiliant lot nonetheless. As for doilies I think Tyrannical Ma may have opened a packet in 1959 and used at the rate of one every five years she probably took fifty years to get through them. I am most certainly NOT a doily person.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I did look up what was in Cool Whip once and it was reading a horror story , rather, how I imagined a horror story never having read one. What is wrong with the stuff that comes out of a cow’s udders? I know, Cool Whip never goes off, probably does not need to be refrigerated and fulfils some weird atavistic craving. Or something.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Port: actually, it’s been a good thing for Neo – or so he tells me. It takes the pressure off having to produce an article every single day and gives him time to research and get all his ducks in a row for the articles he produces. But he had been watching my comments on TCW for probably a year and had a good idea of who I am. Inviting someone to be a contributing writer can certainly give you some well needed rest from the demands of the blog, you’ll want to be certain that the person you invite shares your views.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely correct. I was initially quite wary that someone I don’t know asked to write a post for my blog. I told her that I ultimately reserve the right to refuse to post it, but we’ll see how it turns out. In general, I much prefer working with people I know—photog, Neo, Ponty, you, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Margaret Ashworth, in her “Notes from the Sticks” articles, mentioned how cows will charge people simply walking on the road outside their fence. I had no idea, being a city girl. She writes wonderful articles – I think you can read her archived articles on the TCW site. The older ones are the best, though her newer ones are charming as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re wise to be careful – what you have in your blog is who you are, what matters to you, years of content creation; your body of work. Your legacy.

    I still ask Neo, after more than a year of contributing, to check an article if I’m uncertain of his thoughts on a topic or how I’ve approached a topic. I have tremendous respect for the scope of his work and I would never knowingly damage that so I have no trouble asking he review and then decide if he wants to publish or not. I always abide by his decisions.

    You want to find that kind of dedication in someone who will be a contributing author. But you’re a smart guy and surely don’t need me to tell you these things. Shrug. I’m a mom! What can I do, lol?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s