Independent Memories

Hey – happy 4th of July!  This has got to be one of my favorite days of the year.  I have warm, fuzzy memories of many cookouts in the backyard (remember when grills actually used charcoal?  There’s nothing like the smell of a charcoal grill).  Those were the days when central air conditioning was unheard of and every room had a fan.  The whole house would be humming and rather loud. 

Back then, there was no air conditioning in cars either.  You’d have to sit close to your sweaty siblings on vinyl car seats and crank the windows down while dad went 80 miles an hour down the freeway.  My mother would only crack her window so her coiffed hair wouldn’t blow away (a whole lot of Aqua Net was going on there).  The rest of us looked like ragamuffins after reaching our destination.  We probably looked like ragamuffins before we left, truth be told.

Then, in the evening on the 4th, boxes of sparklers would magically appear and we would write our names in the air with them.  Someone would inevitably get burned.  My brother would always have a box of caps from his cap gun and we would take one of my dad’s hammers and bang the hell out of them on the sidewalk.  There were always those weird “snakes” that would curl up and smell bad while they were burning.   Although most fireworks were outlawed in Michigan, you could bet that one of your neighbors would have driven down to Ohio where they were legal and we’d all watch as they lit them off in the street and wonder at their bravery (or stupidity, as was usually the case).

One particularly memorable 4th included vast quantities of alcoholic beverages with my aunts and uncles.  There appeared to be a direct correlation between the temperature outside and the amount of Pabst Blue Ribbon beers consumed.  That particular July proved to be hotter than blazes, so the adults got rip roaring drunk, thus providing entertainment for us kids.  My mother, who never drank more than one beer, looked decidedly unhappy with her siblings and particularly with her eldest sister who was being talked off the ledge by her eldest brother.  Great fun!

Today’s celebration will be much more tame than the parties in the wild ’70’s.  We’re just having our parents over to eat and maybe we’ll drive somewhere for fireworks.  No one drinks too much, so I’ll just make lemonade and iced tea.  Our grill is gas powered, so no charcoal will be necessary.  Despite all that, it will be great to celebrate the good ol’ USA’s 232nd birthday. 

Wishing all of you a great holiday!!!  Hope it’s one to remember.


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