After the Whirling Stops
What is it about July that almost guarantees I will be in a welcoming frame of mind? With the Fourth coming up in a couple of days, we are looking forward to doing a little bar-b-cueing, with Annie’s brother and his wife joining us for turkey dinner, July style. There is only one truly despondent July in my past, and that was July of 1972, spent 7,000 miles away from home, in the Republic of Korea. I actually spent two Julys over in The Land of the Morning Calm, but by the time the second one rolled around, I was a two-digit midget, getting under the one hundred day mark for returning home.
I remember July of 1974, in our house up (or down) in San Jose, our little community living at the War Admiral house, scrounged up enough loot to go down to the local grocers, to buy steaks for the various members of our little household. Until this point we had been vegetarian, more by economic necessity, than through choice, and so to us, celebrating the Fourth included big steaks.
As kids, we were traditionally treated to some sort of home production of available fireworks, rigidly monitored by my father. He was like a kid himself around fireworks, with firecrackers being his favorite. However, his childlike manner did not extend to allowing us small-fry to engage in anything more adventurous than the sparklers we were permitted to wave about, watching the patterns of dazzling sparks, remain in the air, after we had stopped the whirling.
For most of the years I taught summer school, the Fourth meant a break from the summer grind, usually in the form of a four-day weekend. Whereas the summertime gig at school was never half what the regular school entailed, a four-day break is a gift no matter when it rolls around. Now it was not a paid gift, mind you-just as “summer vacation” was never a paid gig. It just meant that we were unemployed for the ten weeks of summer, unless we had alternative means of employment, such as teaching summer school.
When it comes to stacking up against the other holidays in my life, be it as a child, or as an adult, The Fourth of July is about halfway down the list. Because it takes place in summer, we were already free of school, so it was not the reason for escape, as were both Christmas and Easter. Also, the Fourth always meant bar-b-cues in our household, but so did practically each and every Saturday and Sunday, during the summer.
I can remember working at Sunrize Market, back in the late sixties and early seventies, and getting paid triple-time by the Retail Clerks’ Union, so I welcomed working on the Fourth. Any party worth its salt, was still going to be raging when I got off around nine-thirty in the evening, so I was good to go, and probably twice as thirsty.
As an adult, fireworks have never been my thing. I like to see the bright colors, and ooh and ah with the rest of them, but have no desire to set them off myself, nor any real pressing need to go somewhere to see them. I have seen the fireworks off of the Santa Cruz pier, and they are superb. I have seen fireworks displays at the ball-yard, and thought they were excellent, but that is as far as I am interested in taking it. Besides, with mood spectrum disorder, you never know. If you hang around long enough, or just get lucky, you may see me go off at any time.
It may not match the fireworks you have seen in the past, but I’ll bet it’s the first time you have ever seen fireworks go off without a match. There’s something to be said for spontaneous combustion, but I promised the management, that I would not go there. Here’s hoping you enjoy the Fourth, and that all of YOUR fireworks require matches to set off.