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DAYS OF INDEPENDENCE PAST ...
Although I live in sunny San Diego now, I spent my childhood on the opposite side of the country — in New England, actually. Growing up in New Hampshire, our experience of July, and especially Independence Day, was different than it is here. Obviously, New England has a long history dating back to the Revolutionary War and earlier. But as a child, the things that most stuck out to me were, of course, the fireworks. I don’t know if this is still the case, but at the time, many fireworks were legal, unlike in California where the risk of fire is so great. We waved sparklers, of course, running around the backyard. And we sat on the car windshield with blankets and watched the town fireworks soar overhead. They really had a great show, which was normal for our town. As I said, in New England, the Fourth of July is really a big deal. Along with the fireworks, we also had the bonfire, which was just that, a large town fire that people gathered around to finish out the night. As people drifted away to bed, the rumor was that the bonfire ended with streakers every year. Funnily enough, my parents managed to whisk us
away not too long after the fireworks were over. I never did find out if that rumor was true, although I suspect that if anyone was going to go running naked, they wouldn’t have done it until the kids were all gone anyway. As actual descendants of some of the Founding Fathers (many live in that area), we had family history tied up in the festivities, too. I was always more interested in one of our older ancestors, however — a woman who was tried as a witch during the Salem days! At the time, she was somewhat more aged than the younger women, and she was one of the last ones to be arrested and tried. Luckily for everyone, the hysteria died down during her trial, and they cut her loose without action. It certainly makes one grateful for the laws and liberties we received as a result of America’s founding! But those freedoms come with duties as well, especially where the flag is concerned. We were always careful to never leave one out after dark without a light or out at all in the rain. And during handling, we never let the flag touch the ground. Bonfires, fireworks, and mythical streakers
aside, the Fourth of July meant one more thing to me as a kid: the start of a carefree summer. Or at least, what I hoped would be carefree — there were always chores and work as I got older. But we also had barbecues and family gatherings, and we didn’t need any more excuse than nice weather to have one. Whether going down to the pool or riding bikes around the neighborhood, I have great memories of the “dog days of summer” after the Fourth of July. This year we still see the effects of COVID-19 on gatherings and get-togethers, although when we’re able to gather, it feels like a holiday by itself. The return of the Big Bay Boom is a welcome one, and we can let the memories of the past sustain us while enjoying hope for the future of this year.
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