I was recalling, a few days ago- since it is coming nigh to that anticipated graduation season, once more- the unfortunate instance of a particular glitch in the ceremony of 1988, on Bowle’s Field.
I was there that evening, along with a thousand or more citizens, friends, and proud parents and family members of that year’s high school graduating class. It was a splendid scene. Ornate urns were filled with ferns and masses of beautiful gladiolas. Birds were reveling in the warm, breezy, late afternoon air. Relatives and guest speakers were clothed in their Sunday best. The graduating seniors were adorned in burgundy-red, tasseled, medal-laden robes. Last minute gifts, and envelopes filled with crisp dollar bills, were imparted. Elaborately embossed programs were bestowed unto the masses. Decorative ribbons were festooned and hung from rose-covered lattice. The Processional was completed. Many kind introductory words were spoken. The school band played the appropriate tunes, and the chorus sang an ancient hymn.
But when it came to the part where the top scholar was giving the much anticipated Valedictory Address, we all could hear what sounded like a low, grating, far away noise slowly encroaching upon our esteemed event. We soon realized that the municipal mosquito truck was to blame. And as it finally approached the football field, the irritating and continual racket of it was almost deafening. In addition to the rude, blaring interruption, it was (sadly) doing the very thing that a mosquito truck is suppose to do- spread large amounts of toxic, bug-killing gases.
The speaker ignored it as best he could and continued with his inspiring words, while the unwelcomed pest control engineer took his spewing, bellowing vehicle at a leisurely pace; down not one, but two roads that were adjacent to the ball field. And the longer the driver loitered, as the sun sank low in the western sky; the more was the volume of the thick poisonous fog that descended upon and spread out across the crowd in their bleachers, as well as the graduates and dignitaries that were positioned on the grassy gridiron of that fledgling June.
The spectral white, deadly mist barely crept above the well manicured turf, and then simply hung there- suspended in the atmosphere for a while. It was nearly ten minutes before the sound of the bug truck dwindled away to the point where it was no longer a distraction- as it searched for other neighborhoods; but the lethal effects lingered.
You would’ve thought that the driver might have eventually caught on, or someone would have rushed to stop him, but neither ever happened. I even heard that the following year gas masks and hazmat suits were issued to all of the loved ones and well-wishers as they entered the stadium. Even so, there would never be another mosquito truck incident. Some say that the driver was secretly bound and gagged in a boiler room somewhere- maybe in the courthouse basement, until that next spring’s ceremony was completed. And in a few short years after, it was decided (by the powers which be) that it would be far less risky to just hold the much respected ceremony indoors. They have been held indoors ever since. . .