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“BUTTER WOMAN” SPEAKS!

Some of you might remember this blog post I did last week, about Fiesta: King William parade, stuff left at my house, etc. It amazes me when there’s evidence that people have read these posts. And it thrills me beyond what’s appropriate, really, when readers respond.

And this…well, it’s just unprecedented. I am beside myself with joy and gratitude.

QUICK BACKSTORY:

About this photo in aforementioned blog post:

I had this to say: “I dig her, but I don’t understand her. If anybody knows why this lady was dressed as a stick of butter, do let me know.”

And here she is again:

And I remarked: “This float is a tribute to Burma Shave ad campaigns of yore, and I get that, but I don’t get the big silver parachute or whatever up top. Again, speak up if you know what’s going on here. “Pie are round?” Is that a thing? Is it a political slogan? Whatever’s going on, Butter Woman’s interested.”

By the way, here’s some explanation  of the whole Burma Shave phenomenon…and here are some examples of slogans.

OK, so now you’re up-to-date.
So, guess who read the post, then got in touch.

YES! BUTTER WOMAN!

Her real name is Carol Sowa, and she sent me an awesomely charming e-mail explaining her unique and delicious brand of parade-related performance art.
Here it is:

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FROM THE BUTTER’S MOUTH:

 “I dig her, but I don't understand her.” Yes, Butter Woman seems to bring on that response a lot! Easier to answer is: “Why is this lady dressed as a stick of butter?”  Well here’s the story, straight from the Butter’s mouth!

It all came about as a fluke. Back in 2000, I was working as a writer for a tourist magazine based in the King William neighborhood and decided to get us into the parade while doing a story on it. (I had been relatively normal up to this point, mind you.)

Contemplating the company van, I could see it as a giant toaster in the parade, with bread slices popping out of the top and a corny banner offering “a toast to King William.” In the process of turning the van into said toaster, I happened to notice a box in my garage that was the right shape for a king-size butter stick -- and things took off from there.

My original plan was to attach the butter box to the van, but when that didn’t work out, I decided to cut a few strategic holes so someone on the staff could wear it. Somehow that turned out to be me. Unexpectedly, I had so much fun interacting with parade watchers as the Butter Stick (I like your name “Butter Woman” so much better I'm calling myself that from now on, by the way!), I became addicted and managed to work the character into my themes for the magazine’s parade entries the next three years.

Just as unexpectedly then, I found myself having to find a new employer after my fourth year in the parade, but just couldn't let the Butter die. (In addition to being just pure, silly fun, you might say Butter Woman is sort of a crazy symbol of refusing to give up no matter what life lobs at you.)

So I set out to find a new parade “home” and acquired one the next year with a flatbed of parade drummers known as the Rhythm Section. Taking in strays seemed to be their specialty, as they had already taken a group of belly dancers under their wing before adopting the orphan Butter. I would later recruit a companion Bread Slice along the way and had been looking into bringing in a Pot of Jam as well. (Always thought adding a Tortilla would be nice too!)

I've been part of The Rhythm Section’s entry in the parade for 6 rollicking years now -- making the Butter a 10-year King William Parade veteran -- and for the past two years was also the float’s theme designer/head decorator and parade rep. (This year we were “Col. Pratt’s Traveling Medicine Show,” to tie in with the parade’s live theatre theme, with the Bread and I as walking advertisements for the Col.’s “Amazing Bread & Butter Elixir!”)

The guy who started The Rhythm Section and sponsored it for 11 parades is a contractor and constructed the funky green architectural columns etc. on the trailer for this year’s entry. That silver cloth rolled up on top was a tarp he rigged to protect the drums in case of rain and the “Pie are round” is, well, just a little weird math/engineering-related humor of his. (Everyone involved in our entry is uniquely weird – except for the dogs who were with us a few years back. They were pretty normal.)

 The Burma-Shave signs were there because he'd always thought they'd be neat for the parade and I promised him last year (Butter Woman is big on keeping promises) that no matter what theme the parade folks came up with for this year, I would do Burma-Shave signs and work them in.  (Actually, I said something along the lines of: “Even if next year’s theme is the French Revolution, I swear I will work in Burma-Shave signs!” -- which I was exceedingly happy the King William folks did not choose for a parade theme.)  

 Sadly, however, the leader of our pack is bowing out as sponsor after this year, taking with him the trailer, truck and parade existence of the drum buddies, bevy of belly dancers and once-again-orphan dairy product. So if anybody out there is interested in keeping the Rhythm Section alive and drummin’ down the streets of King William, Butter Woman – who is now addicted to drums too – is all ears!

(But no more Burma-Shave signs!)

 Carol Sowa
aka: “Butter Woman”
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I feel I understand Butter Woman, and the King William parade, and triumphing despite adversity, and planning for rain, and just, well, many things better now. Things only Butter Woman could explain. She was so smart not to create a “margarine woman” character, by the way. Butter Woman is tenacious, practical, and takes the long view. I hope she keeps us posted about future appearances.

I'm not ashamed to say it: I am now fully and devotedly on Team Butter Woman. And, please, if you are involved at all in the King William Fair, do consider incorporating Butter Woman into your float with her friends, the drummers and belly dancers. She already has a costume, you guys.

Spread the word about Butter Woman and her quest!
If you want to get in touch with Butter Woman, e-mail me and I’ll hook you up.
(Serious inquiries only: I’m not trying to get Butter Woman stalked.)

By the way, I totally think she’d fit in with a French revolution theme, don’t y’all?
“Femme de Beurre.”

And will her quest to find a tortilla friend go unheeded!?!?
C’mon, readers!
Show the love! Keep the Butter Woman Spirit alive!

Posted by sarah fisch on 5/6/2009 2:14:01 PM
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