Happy Independence Day!!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
My Home Town on Independence Day
The Fourth of July always is special for me because of the fireworks. When I was a kid, the history behind the holiday was strictly peripheral. Real pyrotechnics came to town only once a year. Sure, we lit snakes, those black discs that put out lots of smoke and bloomed into fragile, long tubes of ash. But fireworks that exploded high in the air were forbidden to private citizens. My home town had a large private country club to thank for our annual display. It was a short drive from our house and attracted nearly everyone in town. Club members sat in Adirondack chairs on the huge veranda, served frosty drinks by the help, smoked cigarettes and cigars and schmoozed. We plebeian masses parked the family station wagons on the polo field and sat on old blankets or bedspreads. As the time drew near to shoot off the first shell, excitement among the children had grown to fever pitch. Then it happened -- one big burst of color in the sky followed by shrill screams from the kids and dignified oohs and aahs from the adults. Then we waited what seemed an eternity for the next burst. Only for the finale was more than one shell shot off at a time. Between each one, we'd hear babies crying and the occasional dog howling in terror. In the end, the club members retreated into their clubhouse for more refreshment and socializing while the rest of us jockeyed for a spot in the exit lines. The memory of open car windows, glaring headlights, choking exhaust from hundreds of cars, fussy children and frustrated parents is an indelible memory of the Fourth of July in my home town. Thankfully, now I can enjoy the show down on the Mall from the comfort of our balcony. I even feel a little like one of those high-rollers on the veranda -- sipping a cool drink of my choice, sitting in a comfy chair, then watching the masses as they fight traffic to get out of town.