Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Everyone all together now -

“God Bless America, Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America! My home sweet home.”

– God Bless America, Irving Berlin, 1938

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

When I was a kid, we would go down to the local plywood stand with flip-up doors to select from maybe 100 different kinds of fireworks. I had to stick to low budget items like chickens, turtles, jumping jacks and actual Black Cat firecrackers. One year we bought some chrysanthemums, which turned out to be three color, giant jumping jacks. I remember how cool it was to see those for the first time. Another favorite of mine were the black snakes that you lit and they grew and grew until they left a giant black stain on the concrete. I had to have those every year. My Nanna’s concrete could prove it. Oh, and sparklers! One year I lit the grass on fire around my Nanna’s trailer by sticking them in the ground and we carried out coffee cans of water to put the fire out.

Nanna would always take me down to the swimming pool for a free swim on the Fourth too. I would stay all day and come out looking like a lobster with freckles. Then I would go to Riverview Park for the city fireworks show. There was always something going on at the park for the entire afternoon and evening of the 4th of July. There were local church groups singing “gosful” music, as my dad calls it, turtle races, other local bands, hot dog and cotton candy carts, and playing on all the park equipment. Every hour or so, they would shoot up a huge cannon missile and I would hold my ears for the impending BOOM! We also used to go fishing at my Grandpa’s pond and shoot bottle rockets under the water. They make a funny sound when they explode under water. Probably not good for the fishing, but fun to watch.

These days, we go down to the giant fireworks tent and pick out whatever we know we like, usually not straying from the familiar: fountains, party balls, parachutes, chickens, frogs, smoke bombs, and dragon snaps. The kids get more and more demanding as they see the tents opening and beg to go buy fireworks earlier and earlier. We have to ration the supply to last us until the actual holiday.

One of my favorite things about living where we live is that we are able to shoot off fireworks. Our neighbors all shoot them off too. The first year we lived here, the kids were little, and had been afraid of the giant city fireworks display, so we put them to bed. Then my husband and I sat out in our pasture in our lawn chairs and watched all the neighbors’ fireworks from afar. For the past three years, we’ve gone to one of our neighbor’s house where they have a huge picnic and numerous teenage boys who keep the fireworks shooting off for half the night. Between keeping the little kids safe, braving the heat, and dousing ourselves with OFF! mosquito repellant, a good time is had by all.

This year, we’ll be having a retro Fourth and going back to Miami for the weekend. I’ll be taking my kids swimming in the city pool, and meandering around the Riverview Park for the Fourth’s festivities, although I doubt we’ll be staying for the fireworks since we’ll have an hour and a half drive home after. We do intend to take in the Commerce, OK (home of Mickey Mantle and a new statue of him) fireworks display on Saturday night with my uncle.

I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend and some happy memories without burns or maiming from fireworks! Might want to get some burn cream, just in case!

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.”

-Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Howe, 1861


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