Parade’s End

In Alexandria, Virginia, we love a parade. You might say that our “parade season” runs from December through March.

On the first Saturday of December, the parade route is filled with men in kilts playing bagpipes in the parade known as the “Scottish Walk”—kicking off the holiday shopping season while recognizing the Scottish heritage of the city’s founders. In late February, the Federal holiday commonly known as “President’s Day” (but legally commemorating only the birth of George Washington) brings the nation’s largest George Washington Birthday parade to our town. The first President is our hometown hero. Once again, men in kilts playing bagpipes fill the parade route. (Apparently the investment in such gear mandates frequent use, no matter the specifics of the occasion.) On the first Saturday in March, the nation’s earliest St. Patrick’s Day parade brings those kilt-wearing pipers back to the streets of Alexandria, bringing us to the parades’ end for the year.

Since this is a bookstore blog, we hope that you got that book-title allusion! In the 1920’s Ford Madox Ford wrote a group of novels collectively known as “Parade’s End”.

We’ve often wondered how a couple with the surname “Ford” would have the perversity to give their son “Ford” as a first name. Turns out they didn’t. He was born Ford Hermann Heuffer. His most famous novel The Good Soldier was first published under the name Ford Madox Heuffer, perhaps as a tribute to his grandfather, the artist Ford Madox Brown. He adopted his pen name of Ford Madox Ford in 1919. We assume that he wanted to drop a German-sounding name, following the same motive underlying the 1917 transformation of England’s royal House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the House of Windsor.

Enough trivia! Back to the present: HBO has announced a 5-part mini-series for its 2012 schedule based on the Parade’s End” novels, scripted by Tom Stoppard.