03 July 2012

Happy 4th of July! (and some memories)

(Still one of my favorite first shots with my Nikon.)
Fourth of July was always a big deal where I grew up.  We lived in a neighborhood of about 250 families, where everyone knew everyone else and it was a good thing.  The day would start almost before the sun was visible, with truck fulls of kids (and some adults) driving around making as much noise as possible with pot lids, bull horns, and whistles to get you up.  Then, there was a kid's bike parade, with crepe paper draped on every available surface, sparkly objects were woven into the wheel spokes and red, white, and blue tassels were on the end of the handlebars.  Some of the kids were big enough to ride, some were pushed on trikes by their parents or siblings.  It wasn't a long parade...unless you were 4 and you had to pump you little legs the whole way!  This went on rain or shine, with the sunny days being more fun, but the rainy ones getting everyone colored and festive by the crepe dye early in the day.

The parade ended at the "meadow", which was the grass space in front of the beach and the lake.  The celebrations were kicked off in earnest by a heartfelt singing of the national anthem and one BIG firecracker from the island.  There were booths set up for food, soda, and beer.  Games included egg carry, water balloon toss, and capture the watermelon.  The watermelon game was something you almost have to see to believe.  They grease it up, throw it in the lake and then teams attempt to get it to their dock first.  The winning team then wrestles it out of the water, busts it open and shares with everyone.  There were team sports - softball, volleyball, and tennis matches.  There was a talent show, which brought many a tear of laughter to your eyes!  There was much swimming and catching up with friends from school, neighbors who had to move out of the area and had come back just for this day, and then in the later afternoon - nap time for the kids.

(photo credit: Betsy F. Mast)
In the evening the neighborhood roads would be covered with cars bumper to bumper of visitors from near and far.  In later years we had to have people come in through a designated entrance to the community and keep a list, as to keep out too many people that would make the fire marshall nervous.  We would all grab folding chairs, blankets, bug spray (really important after a day of perhaps a wee bit too much sun and then sitting near a water source at night), longer pants, and flashlights.  We would make the walk from wherever we lived in the neighborhood back to the meadow and stake a claim on the perfect spot to watch the fireworks display.  They shot the fireworks from across the lake, with some sparkler ones on the island.  You could always tell when the island ones were about to start, because the guy lighting them would strike the match and then dive away into the water for his own safety!  This wasn't a large city display, so the firecrackers were a little further apart, but that made us appreciate them all the more. It gave us time to discuss and debate which were the prettiest, the most interesting.  Some of the little children would be wearing big headphones to try and block the noise (*raises hand*) and others would sleep right through the later portions of the act.

When the finale was completed and all the memories had been made, we packed up and walked back home.  This is where the flashlights were important.  We didn't have street lights or sidewalks in our neighborhood and we had many, many full grown trees.  We hoofed in home almost as part of an evening parade, saying goodbye to each other as we reached each respective house.  We lived there long enough that I could have walked home in the complete dark and found my way, but having a little light is always nice.

This neighborhood still has a version of these celebrations each year and now some of the children I grew up with are the parents who own the homes.  The lake photo is from one of those folks, a high school friend of mine raising her family a couple streets over from where I lived and where her husband grew up.  Cheers!

(An earlier story about the Lake, if you're interested.)


TexWisGirl said...

wow. if that's not a view of Americana at its finest, i'm not sure what else would be. your town is/was the epitome of july 4th as it should be.

Denise said...

I am in awe of your first photo, it's stunning. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories and may you and your family have a very Happy 4th of July!

Grandma Becky said...

sounds fun. I remember parades as well and always fireworks with family. Sometimes we'd go to a different town to see fireworks. Memories indeed! Have a great 4th of July too1

Linda said...

This was a wonderful story! And a great memory to have! So glad the neighborhood is carrying on the tradition!

justine said...

that first shot is stunning and I love this post

Stampmouse said...

love that first shot. great story too