Independence Days Remembered

In Wabash, Indiana, where I grew up, the fourth of July was always the middle mark of summer. As a student I knew that there was still as much summer to enjoy as I had relished over the past few weeks. So it was that the fourth was a much anticipated event.
A few days prior to the celebration my mother took us to the store so that we could help pick out our legal fireworks. We bought sparklers and cherry bombs, (I think those were legal) and snakes. Snakes were my favorite, they were just a small cylinder of black which when you lit the top it would grow and curl to resemble a writhing snake. One year when I was still fairly young, my mom handed each of us kids our own pack of matches so we could light our displays. Following my cool older friend I put the match between the cover and the strike pad to light it. In doing this I turned the match just as it lit and the whole pack went up in my hand. The rest of that holiday was spent sitting with the grownups holding ice to the massive blister that had formed on the entire palm of my hand.
Often our family would gather with some neighbors for the day. We would grill some hamburgers and Mom would make her amazing potato salad. Then it was time to turn the crank as we made our own ice cream. My mouth would drool in anticipation of the vanilla flavored delight that was so cold every bite caused an ice cream headache.
The town of Wabash put on a fireworks display in the park. We were lucky enough to be able to see the show from our back yard. Later, as trees matured my Dad let us climb to the roof to watch. We thought that was a grand adventure.
When Paul and I bought our house in Clifton Park, New York, our neighborhood was directly across from the town fields where the fireworks were set off. The neighborhood was “party central” for the town and like my parents we invited our friends for the day. Our girls spent their early childhood watching the fourth of July parade and the fireworks right in their own front yard.
Some of my best memories were fourths spent on the islands of Lake George. Months in advance we would rent our sites. On that day many of our friends, with kids in tow, would arrive early to spend the day boating, swimming and cooking over a campfire. It was our custom to have steaks cooked over an open flame and baked potatoes roasted in the coals. As evening approached we would all pile into our boats and head to the shoreline near the town of Bolton Landing. The fireworks here were set off from a barge anchored not far from land. On a clear night the red and blue lights of the hundreds of boats gathered was almost a show in itself. As the fireworks blossomed into their fiery displays over Lake George, they were mirrored in the cool clear water below. The exhibit was so spectacular that the many “oohs” and “ahhs” it warranted could be heard gliding over the surface of the lake as the booming concussions echoed against the Adirondack Mountains.
Last summer I spent the holiday at my sister’s new home on Lake Chatuge, located on the border of Georgia and North Carolina. Here, too, we were surrounded by mountains. This time The Blue Ridge Mountains. Since this was our first holiday on Lake Chatuge we did not know the routine. Rumor around the cove was that some of the neighbors put on quite a show. At dusk, after our fill of barbecue, we all gathered on the dock beverage in hand. We were not disappointed. We clapped our appreciation both during and after the show and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Lake Chatuge is once again calling. The attendance at this year’s festivities has grown considerably. This just means there are more great memories to be made.

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2 thoughts on “Independence Days Remembered

  1. Love all your memories of the 4th of July celebrations. This has always been one of my favorite holidays. No gifts to be burden with the thought of what to get for everyone. No, just relax, enjoy the company of family and good friends, great food, and a show of fireworks to boot! Maybe that’s why I have chosen to celebrate the 4th of July here at Sweetwater again this year. What a grand place to celebrate! We are thrilled to host the celebration and are in anticipation of everyone’s arrival! Let Freedom Ring, Baby! Happy Fourth Y’All!

  2. Thanks for the trip down 4th of July memory lane. Looking forward to new celebrations with you at Sweetwater….where wicked good times await.

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