“Do you remember at what time the festival started.”
“Yes. I’ll just start telling what I remember. Don’t interrupt me, if you have any questions ask them when I’m done and I’ll think about them. At dawn, there was a mass in the church. Then everyone went home for breakfast. The priest had spoken about sharing and modesty. On the way out, men joked that if they were modest as the priest meant, they wouldn’t have anything to share. An hour and a half later, we went back to the church. When it seemed enough people were there, some one opened the door to church and out drifted a small low bank of incense, followed by eight men in black robes and heavy hoods with red fringes and ropes. Each carried a large cross that leaned on their right shoulder. The men chosen were large themselves, but the crosses made them seem miniscule. They walked out of the church, followed by the priest and alter boys with incense holders. The train walked down two blocks to the main street, with everyone following. More people were there, who began to walk with the procession. Out of the upper story windows, some people rested on their elbows and hung their heads outside to see everything. As we neared the sea, the crowd became larger. The atmosphere was solemn, but there was a low murmuring of people greeting, relatives catching up on each other, children losing their parents, occasionally someone in a house would loudly whisper down to some one below, and throw down bread or cheese.
“Finally we reached the pier. The cross bearers, priest, and alter boys walked onto the pier, while the crowd stayed on the shore. Some children tried to run onto the pier, but were stopped by their parents who said, ‘no, they must go on by themselves from here.’ Of course they really did that because about 70 years before the pier broke because everyone was on it. At that time, in fact up to the year before festival I’m telling you of, the holy train would mount into two rowboats and be rowed by eight volunteers to a small island a mile offshore where there was a small church and a few trees, nothing else. They would go to the church and pray, deposit their crosses on the alter, pray again. In all they were on the island for an hour, and in transit for two hours. In that time people would become antsy for the return that would signal the beginning of the festivities. The year before, when the priest returned from the island he found next to no-one on the shore. They had all left and didn’t return until an hour later, when the band was to start. So this year, he asked someone who owned a large motorboat, to take the procession to the island, and back, so maybe if the time was shortened the crowd would stay. That year when he returned from the island, he did find people waiting for him, and he congratulated himself for cleverness, not realizing that people did start to leave, but the band showed up early and kept people around for when the procession got back and everyone became solemn again.”