Tracks In The Dust

A Father's Advice About Learning the Mission of Life

Archive for the tag “Holidays”

Childhood Memories of the 4th of July

It is that time of the year again where here in America we celebrate our Independence from the British. Independence Day (4th of July) also seems to serve as a time to acknowledge the “middle of summer” although that is far from technically correct.

It does seem to be a passage from the beginning of summer to heading toward fall, at least that is  how I saw it when I was a kid growing up in mid-west America. It helped to mark time on the calendar until school started again.

As I grew up the 4th of July was  one filled with fond memories of celebrating that was like no other holiday of the year.

The Cannon Shot

Warm weather mornings would start off with one exploding “report” we kids would call a  “cannon shot” fired off at the same time in the AM at all of the city-owned parks. It was like a blast to remind us all that “in the dawns early light” the flag was still there. It would be followed by anticipation of the day which would include a very festive 4th of July parade through the heart of main street in downtown.

The Parade

It was a big parade, including several marching bands ( the mid-west was full of competing marching bands). They would play great tunes with huge horn sections and drums (drum and bugle corps I think they called them). It was always great. In between would be floats from local businesses, clowns on cycles, honorary cars with veterans from foreign wars, the Shiners, the Lions, the Mason’s, 4H … clubs and organizations of all sizes and shapes would participate. It was a cross section of Americana in the middle of the 20th century. The town would line up on the curbs and hours would pass before the fire-engine brigade would finish it up. [Actual picture below from that time]

The Cook-out (barbecue)

Later in the day my dad would rev up the charcoal grill (no gas grills in my memory existed in my yard or anyone elses those days) and he would rotate chicken on the rotisserie and mom would make various salads ( if you call jello salad, potato salad actually salads). It was “all good” on the screened in porch with refreshments and chips for us kids.

The Doll Buggy Parade

At some point there would be a neighborhood parade that would include a “doll-buggy” promenade of kids with their bikes and wagons with flags and crepe-paper and smiles as their parents looked on.  Just a few blocks length, but the city would barricade the streets for the 15 minutes it would last- it was special to the families. Not sure how many of these happened over the entire city- but it seemed to happen in my neighborhood for many years- I think as a remnant of an earlier time. It finally stopped happening.

The Fireworks

Then lastly came the FIREWORKS! In my town since we lived on the coast of the Great Lake Michigan, fireworks were sent above the lake shore at dusk and it would seem the entire city would be there. They were always memorable, and when the bigger/grander one’s would explode you could hear a collective “ooo” or “ah” from the entire crowd down the beaches and parks that line the shore of the Lake.

Sparklers

When we would get back home we would lite sparklers on the lawn and dance around in complete awe. Long thin pieces of metal that would have sparkling chemicals that could actually get extremely hot. My mother would always caution to be careful to hold the end but not ever touch them. We would have a cold-water metal bucket to put them in when we were done.

Those are my fond memories of my childhood 4th of July. I think there are indelible snap shots in my mind.

Thanks to Retro Racine site

Live people in “bronze makeup and stiff bronze-like costumes” would depict this memorial statue. Was always anticipated in the 4th of July parade

Memorial Day & The Beginning of Summer

US FlagWhen I was a kid this holiday weekend signified the beginning of summer.

Memorial Day ( in the US) is a day for all of us Americans to remember the fallen military that have made this country great and to honor those who are  living and dead, that fought in wars big and small for the freedom that every person should have.

It is also the time for some fond recollection of a time when school would be wrapping up for summer break, graduation time and celebration  for those who were done with school and ready to move on. It was a time of dreams and opportunity. The anticipation for the beginning of summer came with a lot of images.

There would be songs on the radio that would become anthems for that summer and forever trigger those memories for so many years to come. In my younger days we would sing along to the AM radio while cruising in the car (oh for gas to be that low priced again). It was the soundtrack for growing-up. The music of fun and romance.

There was also sun and fun at the water with friends, with towels and “sun-tan” lotion ( I still remember the smell of coco-nut). Just spending time under the sun for the entire day, with cold beer and Frisbees. Taking the long walk down the beaches to find driftwood (among the dried up fish and noisy gulls), and chilling on the shore with wet sand and water hitting at your toes.

As the summer progressed there was much to look forward to. The heart of the baseball season, the 4th of July parades, picnics and fireworks. Traveling up north to send time on in-land lakes fishing , running the boats and sitting by the night-fires. There was a lot of magical times.

Of course I remember them fondly, and yes— a bit more cloudy now I suppose. More of the good than the bad. More of the sounds and smells, of the times that were captured in the adolescent mind I guess. But they were great, and we all knew they wouldn’t last forever so  many of us embraced them as much as we could. We spent those lazy days stoking our dreams of fortune and fame ( I was in a rock band back then – imagining that big break that never came). Daring autumn to wait while we took in the moments of memories.

But all of that wouldn’t be possible without the fine men and women who have been part of the armed services during the entire history of the US.  Those dedicated people who ask so little and give so much. They allowed some of the rest of us to dream, to embrace the times of freedom and opportunity. Thanks to them, celebrating Memorial Day in America.

 

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