Sunday, July 2, 2006

Bursts of Memory

Thinking back on Fourths of July. I remember where I was on Fourths better than any other day of the year (for years afterward, that is). Fourths are distinctly eventful. The older I get, the less I like the celebrations though. Anti-patriotic? Nah. Celebratorily ambivalent when it comes to fireworks on the Fourth. Bombs bursting in air, cinders raining down, the dulled out masses of cricked necks turned skyward, a hypnotic oohing and aahing to exploding light. It's not the holiday; it's the cliched fireworks shows. I just can't get into them (beyond wow, that was something). But I probably sound like a crank.  I keep going to them, anxiously watching for the bigger blast than last year and the extension of the show just when you thought it was over.  Past Fourths: I've starred them all on this quikmap:

Flashes, memories of 4th of July and place:

Late 1970's: My grandparents' drive-way on Drummond Island. Safe-works, all sparklers and snakes. Grand finale: something tank-shaped that spun and popped. The flowing goo of writhing carbon snakes: wow, that was something. I was into the sparklers, too. Two at a time to keep it dangerous.

1984: Independence, Mo. My brother and I were staying in the duplex where my aunt and uncle lived. Only they were gone to Denver, so our grandmother was watching us. The entire complex of apartments was crawling with kids, the grounds ascramble with bottle rocket battles. Only we weren't allowed out past dark. Too risky. Grandma was a worrier. I think I remember that we tried her nerved by staying out past the first edge of evening. And then paid dearly for it. Still, my aunt and uncle brought back giant jawbreakers from their short trip to Colorado.

A year later? Or two. This time with another aunt. We left Lansing, Mich. and traveled through the night toward Kansas City. I was eleven or twelve. I watched out the car window (a Chevette, I think) for all of the fireworks shows between Lansing and Indianapolis. And then I fell asleep. I was supposed to stay awake, help her stay awake (changing radio stations, chattering on about how scenic south-central Illinois was). When I woke up on the Fifth, we were just leaving St. Louis. The I-70 corridor was a fireworks paradise with bright yellow tents parked at every exit for 270 miles.

1996: Saginaw Bay, Mich. I'd just taken my first job after undergrad, moved from KC to Saginaw, and was handling claims for damaged property following a wall of tornados from Frankenmuth to Bay City. A small cooler of beer, a cookout. Good friends who I don't keep in touch with any longer.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at July 2, 2006 10:10 PM to Under a Bushel

My favorite 4ths were during the summers when I was a preteen and we'd visit a friend who lived across the street from the unfinished National Cathedral. My brother and I would take popsicles, sit on the roof and watch the firecracker show beyond the cathedral, on the Mall.

Posted by: joanna at July 4, 2006 12:16 PM

Popsicles on the fourth always add a little something. We didn't end up seeing many last night. Went to the house of one of D.'s colleagues for a cookout and then decided not to brave the traffic at the fairgrounds. There were just four shows in the immediate vicinity of Syracuse last night. I suppose some of them lit off the fireworks over the weekend.

Posted by: Derek at July 5, 2006 8:20 AM