Monday, July 04, 2016

Fourth of July Memories

How do you celebrate the Fourth? With a barbecue, burgers and dogs and potato salad? Do you go someplace to watch fireworks?

I am spending a quiet day at home today, but the Fourth brings many memories from over the years. When I was a teenager in Chicago, I used to go with a group of friends to Soldiers Field where we watched stock car races (what that has to do with patriotism baffles me to this day) and then what we considered a spectacular display of fireworks. I suppose it would pale by today’s standards. In retrospect, it was unlike my parents to let me go to something like that with a group of friends, but they did.

My neighborhood has a parade which is pretty much a big deal—one family offers mimosas and bloody Marys at a curbside stand, but the focus is really all on the children.  Toddlers as young as two drive their foot-powered vehicles on the six-block route that ends at the local elementary school where there are snow cones and other goodies.

When my children were young—thirty years ago or more—they dressed in red, white and blue, pulled the red wagon, and were a proud part of the parade in the neighborhood where we then lived. One year Jamie made a striking Paul Revere, though I wonder to this day where we got a tri-cornered hat for him. He even had a brass bell to ring as he sounded the alarm. The kids would weave crepe paper banners into the spokes of their bikes. They never won a costume prize but that didn’t seem to faze them.

When my ex was still with us, we went to the top floor—twelfth?—of the Medical Education Building at TCOM. As a faculty member, he had access. Great view, luxury seating, but I only remember doing that a couple of times.

One year the kids and I went with their Uncle Bob (an adopted relative) to watch the city fireworks. For some reason we decided to go to the middle of a long high bridge over the Trinity. Uncle Bob, now long gone, was gay as a goose and afraid of many of the things that spook me. In the middle of the bridge, we simultaneously had panic attacks, and the kids had to lead us off. Not our best year.

Some years I went with friends to Oakwood Cemetery, a local historic landmark, for the tour of graves of famous characters and then to watch fireworks from the banks of the Trinity River. A few years we went to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens for a concert followed by fireworks, and many years I went to local Colonial Country Club with friends—often Jordan’s friends. We sat on the ground directly under the fireworks, and I decided I didn’t really like the sensation of those loud explosions coming right at me—made me feel like I was having a heart attack. A couple of years I went with neighbors, and we watched from a second floor balcony—much more my style.

One problem with going somewhere to watch these displays is that they all end about the same time, and traffic snarls—it can take an hour or more to get home.

Tonight I’m spending the evening quietly at home—obviously since I can’t put weight on one foot and am in no shape to go anywhere. We had enough fireworks last night—loud, rolling thunder and great flashes of lightning. It got to Sophie who slept part of the night with me. Jordan reported this morning that at one point she had both her dogs, who were visiting, plus Sophie in bed with her.

The Fourth is the most dangerous holiday for dogs. One out of five dogs disappear. We used to have a collie who was desperate to get inside when fireworks went off. Before we realized this he destroyed an aluminum screen door—in a rent house, of course. Sophie, bothered by thunder, is not much aware of fireworks, but she’ll be inside.

Happy Fourth everybody.

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