That was the thought I just couldn't shake as I stood in line on Saturday morning. Ann Richards lay in state in the capitol rotunda, and Austin was invited to pay respects. President Clinton had come to town to that morning and was at the capitol in a private ceremony before the doors were opened to us. Waiting outside was almost surreal, because every high school band in Austin was lined up around the capitol, and you could hear bits of music, and drums and trumpets rumbling up all around us.
The Austin School District had been planning its 125 year celebration for months, and all the bands were there to march down Congress in a huge parade led by school busses. The line to get into the capitol stretched around the building, as did all the bands. We were all just waiting together. It sounded like warm up for a Friday night football game, times 10.
I stood next to a very nice guy, who remarked that Ann would have been happy to have all those kids, and the glorious energy pulsing around her.
I kept talking to him until the doors finally opened. He had been a former teacher, so we talked about schools and education and who we knew in common. He said Ann Richards came to his classroom once to speak to his kids, and the photo they took was used in promotional items often after that. She had signed a copy for him, which he still had. He now worked with a lobbying group, Education Austin, which I was familiar with. It does good work.
We looked at bands that had shiny new uniforms and lots of kids, and bands that had ten people in t-shirts and shorts. Some schools had ROTC corps of brown kids, and I remarked that within three years, many of those kids would likely be in Iraq. He pointed out that the schools with big ROTCs often had tiny ill equipped bands. As it turns out, the man I spoke with was the president of Education Austin. I didn't realize it, until he gave me a business card as we were leaving the capitol.
So with the parade starting outside, we slipped into the capitol. It was silent and lovely, not sad at all. Just before and after the casket were big displays of photos of Ann Richard's life. Her childhood photos before the casket, and after the casket, when you might have been sad, was a display of photos of her laughing, hard. With all sorts of people. It was great.
I wasn't planning to sneak some photos, but so many people were taking them, I just wanted some for the blog.
I spent the rest of the day getting ready for, and attending, a White Trash Pool Birthday Party for Connie. We had so much fun. It was fun getting food ready, and Robbin, the host, said she would have to always throw White Trash parties from now on.
We laughted and drank, and sat in the blow up pool. The best dressed among us wore a wife beater tank, cut offs, a gimme hat, and fake tattoos saying "Leonard" in a heart on one arm, and "Skynard" in heart on the other. We drank Lone Star in tall boys, and strawberry wine with screw off lid. We ate rolled up olive loaf lunch meat, my Pears Sheldon, Pork Rinds, and fritos with bean dip. Ann would have liked this crowd too.