Friday, April 19, 2013
The Fourth of July
The 4th is over. It was a hazy, hot and humid day--HHH as they refer to it here in Washington, but we cleaned the deck, set up the picnic table and umbrella, cleaned the chairs and got the new grill ready. It was the annual bash -- three out of four children, six grandkids, an extra mother-in-law plus neighbors passing through. There were ham, chicken and flank steak that son, Dave, had gotten from the Amish market on the grill. There were potato salad and garbanzo bean salad, two different corn puddings, devilled eggs, sourdough bread, three different pies and a homemade lemon cake.
The grandkids raced in and out regardless of the heat, adults visited and, finally, at dusk all but my husband tramped down the street to the ballpark to watch the fireworks. After a spectacular show enjoyed by all but the four-year-old granddaughter, we marched back up the hill where I insisted on most of the food leaving with each family. The last car pulled out, the second load of dishes went through the dishwasher, the flag was put back in the basement and the Fourth was over.
Of course, it was simpler when I was young. I would wake up early on the 4th in Shamokin, Pennsylvania when one of the wooden mailboxes across the street exploded. We all knew it was probably Robert or Paul Williams who had put cherry bombs inside, but no one got really mad. After all, it was the 4th of July.
I would wash quickly and put on my sandals and shorts and shirt and go downstairs. It wasn't really hot yet, but the day was sunny and I couldn't wait to go outside.
My mother would be getting the iced tea ready (loose tea in the bottom of a pitcher of cold water.) By suppertime, it would be the proper color and strength and we would have it with mint from the backyard.
I would force down rice krispies and banana, get my 4th of July supplies and hurry outside. Some of the other kids would be there, too, and we would carefully light our punk and watch it unroll in snaky fashion on the sidewalk. We would stomp on caps which we had bought in boxes--3 or 4 rolls to a box--at the corner store.
Every once in awhile some of the bigger boys would light cherry bombs in the corner lot and run. Neighborhood dogs took turns barking and hiding.
All day, games were interspersed with fireworks. Supper was salad and cold meat and iced tea and maybe blueberries and cream for dessert.
After twilight faded, we kids would go outside again to light sparklers and watch them fizz and glow like fairy wands in the dark. Parents and kids would go to the big lot at the end of the street and Johnny and George Klick would set off fireworks for all of us--rockets and cartwheels and flower pots, all wonderful things.
It would be the great climax of the day. Afterwards, people would walk home companiably in the dark. We were all content. The Fourth had come, was celebrated and was over.