This weekend is the 4th of July, a time to celebrate America and to reflect on all the blessings that we have here in this great country.
My own reflections have to start with my dad. He is the most patriotic person I know, and he saw to it that his family celebrated the 4th in true American style. He would start the day by waking us up to a LOUD recording of Stars and Stripes Forever, followed by a bunch of other patriotic selections. After feeding us a wonderful brunch on the patio (Mom, like me, was not the head chef in our household), we would all pile into the car and head over to the Parade.
I grew up in Deerfield, which had a wonderful traditional parade. We had our spot - right in front of the Duraclean Store (it hasn't been that for years and years, but it will always be that to us). The store entrance was set into the building just enough to fit two lawn chairs and a cooler. The "sun-shy" would sit there, or we would all smush in if rain threatened. I only remember 1 complete rain-out in the 30 plus years that I attended. Back in the day, everyone knew my dad, and that spot was always open for us - more recently, we had to stop down there early in the morning to stake out our spot with old chairs and blankets. Deerfiend is not the sleepy little town I grew up in.
The parade was always magnificent - During the time I was growing up, Deerfield always hosted a Drum and Bugle competition the night before the parade, with groups from all over the country. The groups then appeared in the parade, so we got some amazing musical entertainment.
Remember when the kids used to wear clothes?
There was always a bunch of convertibles carrying the local politicians. We only liked the ones that threw out candy! The Shriners and Kiwanas (sp?) groups would have BIG men in tiny cars that looked like flying carpets or on tiny motorcycles. We often wondered how they got those guys in and out of those vehicles - mostly out... The lady that owned the local shape-up place always had a float full of fit people doing exercises - on hot days we wondered why they didn't keel over! We also wondered how the owner never seemed to get older or droopier - could it be she made a deal with the devil? Ok - I was already jealous of her figure by the time I was in High School. It's just not right!
After the parade we would head over to the local Country Club for great games, food and more food and finaly, the fireworks. That was back before people realized that goldfish had feelings, so they would release hundreds of them into the highly chlorinated pool for all of us kid to try and squish - I mean catch. Mom would hold a plastic bag full of fresh water for us to drop them into. By the end of the day, most of them were floaters - if it was hot we called them boil-in-bag fish. But at least one fish always survived in it's algi filled bowl - with little or no food - usually until the end of June of the following year. Goldfish are amazing little creatures, aren't they?
Besides the Goldfish Boil, there was the penny toss, races, pony rides and various other games we would play in order to win all kinds of cool platic junk. Remember the cheap paddleball games? After we lost the ball, dad kept the paddle in the linen closet to remind us to be good - and we never even considered reporting him for child abuse!
The club back then was awesome. I lived there in the summers. It was still a small town club - now it has moved and become pretty ritzy - I liked it better then. I believe the french fries there were probably what started me on the path to obesity - or it could be the beer in college. Hmmm - I guess we will never know for sure. Anyway, I digress.
The fireworks there were always the best - a perfect end to a perfect day. I remember watching them on a blanket on the driving range with my first summer love. He was so cute. I wonder what happened to him. Probably fat and bald - but then, so am I (fat that is).
My memories of the 4th will always remind me of what an awesome country we live in. Even though the 60's were not the best time in our history, we still managed to celebrate this great nation. I will never take this country for granted, for no matter what problems we may have at times, it is still the greatest nation on earth. This weekend on the 4th, try to forget your troubles, and remember how lucky we all are to be living here. I know I will!
Three Cheers for the Glorious 4th of July!