It may be the first time the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales have come to the Swiss Wine Festival, but for Betty Firth Brown, seeing the magnificent horses brings back a flood of memories from nearly 70 years ago.
“It would have been in the mid to late 1940s,” Betty recalled. “They were in Madison, probably for a parade, because they came down Main Street. Madison had a lot of things back then, they had a lot of entertainment come in.”
Betty, in her early 20s, was a waitress at the Fiesta Restaurant on Main Street; and says that she had served the crew handling the Clydesdale team.
“I worked for Florence Johnson, and they came down Main Street in their big red wagon, being pulled by those Clydesdales – which were beautiful,” Betty remembers. “They stopped out in front of the restaurant and asked my boss if I could take a ride with them. I walked out just as I was in my uniform and everything, climbed up on that wagon, and we took a ride – and it was something else.”
The ride toured the city of Madison.
“I was way up there on that wagon, and those horses were beautiful,” she continued. “I probably waved at the people I knew as a went down the street.”
Those wonderful memories came flooding back this week as the large, red semi trucks carrying the Clydesdales came rolling into Vevay for the Swiss Wine Festival, which gets underway today (Thursday). The Clydesdales will serve as the Grand Marshals of Saturday’s Grand Festival Parade.
When her daughter, Julie Brown, asked if her mom might want to go down to the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park and see the horses, there was a quick response.
“Absolutely! I told her,” Betty smiled. “I’m very anxious to see them. They are such beautiful animals.”
Betty Firth Brown married Bob Firth in 1947, and the couple moved to Brooksburg, where they ran the McKay Store after purchasing it from the McKay Sisters. After running the store for a time, they sold it, moved across the creek, and sold riverfront lots and ran a bait shop and other ventures.
They moved to Vevay around 1970, moving into the house that Betty still lives in today.