Wednesday, July 04, 2018

4th of July Parade, La Porte, Indiana - 1955

Happy 4th of July! I wanted to post something special on our nation's birthday, and decided to scan some slides documenting an Independence Day parade from 1955 - 63 years ago.

La Porte is in northern Indiana, and is nicknamed "The Maple City" thanks to the many maple trees (planted in the 1850's) that line several major thoroughfares. The wonderful parade seen in these scans is a real slice of classic Americana.

You can't have a parade without a marching band! I can almost hear (and feel) the rapid rhythm of the drums. Say, are those maple trees?

Most of the floats for this parade feature local beauties in their finest gowns. I'm not complaining! This first one is brought to you from Scholl Dairy Company, which is still in business in nearby Michigan City. 

Sinclair Service Station sponsored this sparkling float featuring a silver rocket.

This next float might be pulled by a boat, but it was brought to you by Hummel's Auto Maintenance, which operated in La Porte for 13 years. 

Here's the "City of La Porte" float, with a giant golden key to the city; perhaps the ladies represent the parade queen and her court? 

A beautiful antique wagon carries a small band - this one is sponsored by Roxy Music Shop, established in 1939 and still in business!

Of course there has to be a tribute to our armed forces; here's the "Stars & Stripes Forever" float, along with a typical family under the banner that says, "Worth Fighting For".

Baby chicks stand on a rainbow (as they do), with what looks like a box of gold at one end - the box of gold is also protected by women in diaphanous pastel dresses.

It's a rocket again, only this is the firework variety. "Light fuse, run away". I prefer, "Hold in hand (with an oven mitt), light fuse, aim at little brother". But that's just me. This one appears to have been sponsored by the La Porte Jaycees.

I love this one because it reflects the Davy Crockett craze, which was at its height in 1955. They don't mention Davy by name, but it can't be a coincidence that the frontiersman is wearing a coonskin cap. His long-suffering wife waits with two boys in buckskins.

Hey, a change of perspective! The Lions Club had a float in vivid purple, complete with a graven idol of pure gold. In front, a miserable clown, and a man dressed as a woman. As long as he's happy, right? 

Ol' Humpty Dumpty is up to the usual shenanigans, sitting on brick walls like he's somebody special. Looks like a friend has already paid the ultimate price (up front) - yolk and albumen everywhere. This float was sponsored by Bortz Farm Store, still in La Porte to this very day!

Wampler Service Corporation (possibly suppliers of heating oil) brings us this scene (is it heaven?).  There's a white arched bridge, with pretty women who look like they are on their way to a very classy affair indeed. A patio umbrella protects one of them, while the rest just have to deal with the sun.

Well, that was a lot of pictures, wasn't it? I hope they put you in a good 4th of July mood, and that you all have a wonderful day!

EXTRA, EXTRA... La Porte still does a 4th of July parade, and here's a YouTube video featuring the 2017 version! I hope you have 2 spare hours.

AND EVEN MORE EXTRA.... somebody posted a few minutes of a 1962 4th of July parade from La Porte!


Nanook said...


If these images don't say Americana - I don't know what does. Gotta love the world's biggest key to the city. Also love the image of the Lions Club float, with the Shell gas station in the background, along with the banner plugging their gasoline - complete with the additive: 'TCP'-! TCP stands for Tricresyl-Phosphate, first introduced in 1953. Fill 'er up-!

Thanks, Major - and Happy 4th of July to all.

Melissa said...

Coveting all the lovely, softly flowing formal dresses on the float queens. The mid-late 1950's was a great EEA for evening wear.

One of my high school friends was a Dairy Princess, and she said when they taught her the hand wave to use in parades, they described it as "like spreading butter in the air with your hand." I've never been able to think of it any other way.

Happy Independence Day!

stu29573 said...

Growing up in Denison, Texas we would have a huge church picnic out in the country and kids would be let loose with whatever explosives they could get their hands on. No one ever got hurt (that I can remember). These pictures sort of remind me of that small town 4th of July spirit! Thanks!

K. Martinez said...

A hometown parade is a great way to celebrate the 4th of July. Thanks, Major.

A safe and Happy 4th of July to all!

JC Shannon said...

Wow, Happy 4th everyone! I love all these pics. Hometown, America. Hand crafted floats, and beautiful gowns. The colors are so vivid, and the cars of the day are very cool heavy Detroit steel. A simpler time for sure.Nanook, I do remember a slogan from an oil company "TCP and Top Octane"! Never knew what TCP was till now. Thanks Major for the beautiful photos.

Chuck said...

Major, thanks so much for this mega-post of mega-goodness. We can all enjoy a traditional Fourth of July parade in our pajamas from the comfort of our own, air conditioned kitchens. If that's not celebrating freedom, I don't know what is.

Note the Armed Forces float represents the five uniformed services which protect our way of life - the Army, Marines, Navy, Cub Scouts, and Little League.

The standing pioneer boy appears to be wearing a skunk-skin cap. I really want to call him "Pepe La Porte," but I'll refrain. That joke stinks.

Enjoy your day, folks, but in the midst of the barbecues and fireworks and rousing speeches by Bill Pullman, remember what the day's all about. This experiment in self-government is a mere 242 years old, and we should never, ever take that for granted. "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." May this always be the land of the free because of the brave that call it their home.

zach said...

Happy 4th everyone!


Patrick Devlin said...

great shots that nicely make up for my own lack of a parade tody.Happy Independence day!

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa's comment has made me realize that not one single woman in the parade was waving. The only people in the photos that were waving were Davy Crockett and one of his sons. The scary clown should at least be shaking a fist at the crowd.....or waving a knife around maniacally.

Happy Fourth of July, to all!

Dean Finder said...

Just came from my own town's parade. Not one woman (or man) in a formal gown, though.

Anonymous said...

Now THIS is what you call an authentic Main Street Fourth of July parade!

Happy Fourth, everyone! ;)

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, didn’t Elvis wear a ring that said “TCP”? ;-)

Melissa, I remember Jimmy Stewart on Carson - he’d been the Grand Marshal for the Tournament of Roses Parade, and he described his waves as “screwing in a lightbulb” and “wiping a window”!

stu29573, I miss the days when my siblings and friends could go nuts with fireworks. I might have received minor burns (from a hot sparkler wire dropped on the ground), but otherwise we came through unscathed.

K. Martinez, it’s a shame that so many small town can’t afford to do annual parades anymore…

Jonathan, years ago I was in Austin, Minnesota for the 4th of July, and got to see their parade. It was super fun… the local weather man was the big star, and kids dressed in costumes, such as cans of SPAM (the local product, since the Hormel factory employed most of the residents).

Chuck, I sleep better at night knowing that the Little League is there, protecting us from all kinds of evil. The buckskins that those boys are wearing look like quality Sears merch. I don’t know about Bill Pullman, but I’m always appreciative of our country!

David Zacher, yay!

Patrick Devlin, it’s so hot today that I’m not sure I’d want to be standing on a street for hours, but I do like a nice local parade.

TokyoMagic!, waving is un-ladylike and is just not done. The clown looks like he had a rowdy 3rd of July, and is regretting his decision to be in a parade. “I should be in bed!”.

Dean Finder, I’m glad that your town still had a parade! One town north of where I am quit the parade because of “lack of interest”, if you can believe that.

The Magic Ears Dudebro, you can’t get much more authentic than a 1955 parade in Indiana! Happy 4th to you too.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major & Nanook, I don't know about Elvis' ring, but didn't Aretha Franklin mention TCP in the song, "Respect"? By the way Nanook, I just now watched an episode of I've Got A Secret on the Buzzr Channel, and they had a gas station attendant on the show, who's real last name was Fillerup.

Nanook said...

@ TM!-

You better make that "TCB"-! Otherwise 'ol Aretha will be none-too-pleased.

The gas station attendant with the last name of Fillerup, reminds me of MGM's famous security guard, who manned their main gate, with the name of Kenneth Hollywood. He worked there for more than 30 years, right-up into the late 60's/early 70's-! (It's actually an old British-Irish name).

TokyoMagic! said...

Nanook, thanks for the correction! Hopefully, Aretha won't see that comment. She's probably too busy trying to find out who's zoomin' who.

I had never heard that about the MGM security guard's name!