Days of History & Lollipops: A Story

This past weekend, I participated in my first Michigan event – from the side of a vendor.

Unlike all of my years in Florida vending lollipops (at the local punk rock craft fairs and the like), the weather outside was absolutely gorgeous for three out of the four days we were there.

Also unlike the bulk of my vending events in Florida, my “booth” happened to be inside – in the air conditioning! That would have been a welcome change from the buckets of sweat that I sweated when we set up under our pop-up tent on hot asphalt in weather that’s well over 80 degrees.

I put “booth” in quotes because this is the most elaborate setup I’ve done since my Gay Days, uh, days. I do miss the planning portion of the Gay Days events – each one was themed to the hilt and I got to come up with decorations, display ideas, signage, coupons, giveaways, marketing campaigns, all the things. And it was different every year! I loved it.

This weekend’s occasion was not a heavily-themed booth filled with fake penises, Andrew Christian underpants, and rainbow disco ball cups, though – instead, it was a look back through the history of the lovely town that Mickey and I have decided to call home.

I think you could call this weekend’s “booth” a pop-up museum if you’re getting all persnickety about language. Yeah, pop-up museum. I like it.

Our pop-up museum was pretty awesome for a first outing. We had four large round tables with binders filled with hundreds of photographs that have been donated by Melvindale residents over the years. A lot of the photos were of destruction, which I found interesting.

When I thought about it, it made sense though – back then when you took photos with a film camera, there had to be an *occasion*, you know? A family party, a celebration, or a tragedy that needed to be documented for insurance purposes.

Or, like, headshots, if you were an aspiring model or comic or something.

And if you have a bunch of pics, you’re gonna keep the happy ones and donate the sad ones, right?

Plus, we got a lot of our photos from some old firefighters, I think.

In addition to the photos, we also had bunches of that line-em-up in three rows of elementary school class pictures. The ones where the fashion is colorful and the smiles are plastered on. We had so many of those.

We also had some old lettermen’s jackets, school shirts, and even an old middle school cheerleading uniform. The fashion of this uniform is honestly iconic.

Oh, first let me tell you the worst part of this pop-up museum:

I forgot to take pics, y’all. Didn’t take a single one. Oh well, next time. Here are the lollipops I made as a peace offering:

Another thing we had a decent amount of was glassware – remember when we used to get, like, beer mugs, champagne flutes, and martini glasses as our prom favors? Yeah, we had a lot of those – plus one martini glass from the 2000s that had a brown candle with a waffle pattern stamped into the top.

It was the first time the Historical Commission had set up a museum like this, so I think we had a pretty good turnout. I’d say we had around 50-75 visitors for the three day event, with a few people who came to visit us every single day!

One fella even gave me a hot tip on how to procure an old Ace Hardware sign from a new business that just opened up in our city.

In addition to the pop-up museum, we also sold some stickers and lollipops. And we did pretty well with those too! For the bulk of the event, the Boston Cooler lollipop handily outsold the Faygo Red Pop suckers, but on the last day – the Red Pops reigned supreme.

People came in to both relive their high school memories and look up their relatives… one of whom lived in the Professor Haus at one point.

We live in a tiny town, y’all.

Here’s something I want to say about this event in my tiny town though.

The police presence was wild.

The day we set up and the first couple of days were okay. There was a reasonable amount of police presence for the size of the event.

Then on the last day of the event, there were every possible variety of Michigan cop at this event. We had city cops – both the ones who do traffic stops, as well as the Motor Carrier and ordinance officers. Then we saw state police. Then the county sheriff’s office. Then we saw border patrol!

I asked a couple people if this level of police presence was typical for this community event. One person hadn’t been there for a few years, and couldn’t give me a true answer.

However, we had a visitor there that said, no, this wasn’t a normal amount of cops for the event.

I know me asking so intensely about the police presence in a small mid-western town probably made some people uncomfortable.

But honestly, seeing that heavy of a police presence at an event in a town that doesn’t have more than 13,000 people in it made ME uncomfortable.

And if you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll know that I’ve been working on not being uncomfortable so much. It’s hard, yeah, but, holy shit is it a valuable skill to learn.

I’ve been so much happier.

So, I kept reacting (wtf why are there so many cops here?) to the ever-growing police presence.

I didn’t like it and eventually stopped myself before I ramped up into a speech about this that I couldn’t unwind from.

I’m also learning to know when speaking up won’t make one bit of damn difference.

The day after the event concluded, I found out a couple of things through one of the community Facebook pages.

  1. So many residents got ticketed at this event for parking in a lot that folks parked in all the previous years. There was no marking on this lot designating it as a no-parking area.
  2. The mayor’s car was found in a fire lane during the event, unticketed.

I’m not gonna infer any conclusions regarding any of this for you, you’re smart enough to do it for yourself, right?

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