“May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! “

July 4th was always exciting when I was growing up. The next town over had one of the great parades which seemed to last forever filled as it was with bands and floats. We’d go to a house right on the parade route which had a huge porch where we’d all hang out to watch the parade. The table inside was covered with foods like potato salad and hot dogs and burgers and watermelon. Popsicles were in the freezer. It was eat when you’re hungry. At night came the fireworks. We never went that often, but I could see them from my house when they colored the sky high in the air. When I was older and a member of a drill team, I marched in that parade. When we’d get to the white house with the porch, the whole crowd of people would yell my name. I was both embarrassed and pleased. When I was older, my friends and I would go to the fireworks. We’d bring a blanket and some food and stake out a spot right near the water over which the fireworks would burst. We couldn’t help ourselves. The oohs and ahs came out of our mouths almost every time fireworks burst overhead and filled the sky with colors and patterns.

I remember the decorated carriage and bicycle contests held in the morning, before the parade. My sister won the year she was a hula girl. Her  doll carriage was frilled with colored crepe paper looking like a hula skirt.

One year I saw Big Bother Bob Emery at the bandstand near the lake. He was on television every day when I was a little kid. I remember we’d toast President Eisenhower with milk as Hail to the Chief played. Big Brother was a TV icon to me. He’d play his uke and sing The Grass Is Always Greener.

I remember sparklers and how excited we were to have our own fireworks. I’d hold the sparkler as close to the bottom as I could when my father lit the top. I remember how sometimes a spark would land on my hand or arm and how it burned just a little. We’d spin the sparklers and make our own light show. The sparklers made a hissing sound when they burned. We’d each get one at a time and then we could back for more until the boxes were empty.

July 4th seemed to last forever, well into the night, well beyond my usual bedtime.

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18 Comments on ““May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country! “”

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Your 4th was my 4th, too. I’m in the next town over. We all would go to a house on the parade route which was also right across from the lower common. We could see everything, all day. Great place to watch the fireworks as well.

    My father was a firefighter and would sometimes have to drive one of the fire trucks in the parade. One year he was driving the rescue truck so we got to ride along. It was cool being in the parade but the down side was that we were at the end and didn’t get to see anything else. I discovered I’d rather watch a parade than be a parade. 🙂

    There’s no big parade here this year but all the other things like the doll carriage parade and the pet parade are still on. There will be a very much smaller parade this afternoon and fireworks later on.

    I’m all set with hot dogs, potato salad, soda and fresh native strawberry ice cream.

    Happy 4th of July!

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Our house was not all that far from the start of the parade, a couple of blocks from the field where we all lined up. IT was definitely an all day affair!

      I marched from about the 7th grade through high school in St. Patrick’s Shamrocks, a drill team which competed all summer in the heyday of drill teams and drum and bugle corps. It was started in 1947 and two of aunts even marched. I loved the July 4th parade. It was all cheering and clapping, one of the happiest of all the parades.

      Around here several towns have small parades and many have fireworks. This year is a quiet one for me-no barbecue, just home for the holiday.

      Yours sounds perfect!! Have a wonderful 4th!!!!

  2. Rick OzTown Says:

    My favorite fireworks have always been the Austin Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) ones. I didn’t care too awfully much for the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s annual concert along the shore…I was waiting on the BIG SHOW right overhead. I’d be on my blanket at the first SWOOSH that preceded the first BOOM! Looking up, my entire field of vision was filled by the exploding pinwheels and starbursts. My ears were assailed by the concussion shots. What a surfeit for the senses!

    Throwing Frisbees first with others around the grassy shore was fun, the blistering heat and mosquitoes were a small drawback to pay for the reward of the annual BOOM! show. One year, my wife insisted we sit downriver on the bank about a quarter mile east of the show. WHAT a disappointment for me! This was so we wouldn’t have to thread the crowd with the assembled nieces and nephew. I didn’t go for that again. To me, fireworks shows are to be surrounding me, not something seen from afar.

    • katry Says:

      I can see and hear those fireworks as you describe them. I remember that SWOOSH and the burst overhead. The end, though it meant the fireworks were over, was always so spectacular.

      Nope, fireworks have to be felt. I totally agree. They are the most sensual of experiences.

  3. Obviously, being your cousins to the North, we didn’t celebrate the July 4th holiday, and I don’t even remember that we did much on July 1st (Canada Day) when I was a kid either. However, every year on Victoria Day we’d have a big firecracker extravaganza going on on our front lawn. As soon as you mentioned the sparklers, it took me right back there.


    • katry Says:

      I’m glad I “sparked” a memory. Nothing is sweeter than remembering something long forgotten. July 4th has always been a huge holiday here. Barbecues are the order of the day and flags adorn everything! I love this holiday!

  4. Bob Says:

    The fourth has always invoked memories of ice cream, baseball, cookouts and fire works.

    We are so lucky to live in a country where we can publicly disagree with our leaders and not find ourselves incarcerated. A country where we may not like our current leaders but we patiently wait until the next election to change them without resorting to violence. And, we elect leaders who stand besides the victor on the Capital steps proudly when their rival takes the oath of office. Then they go quietly into retirement. A country where tanks and soldiers are not called out on election day or where generals decide are leaders. A country where our leader’s religious beliefs are not enacted into civil law. A country where the accused have the presumption of innocence and the right to legal counsel and freedom from self incrimination. A country where we are constantly moving in fits and spurts towards the lofty words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence “All men are created equal”.

    Have a very Happy Independence day!

    • katry Says:

      I’m with you in all those memories of the 4th of July.

      You have wonderfully describe this wonderful country in which we live. I consider myself so very lucky!!!

      You too have a very Happy Independence Day!!!

  5. olof1 Says:

    I wish I could say that over here we…. But as You know most of us are mostly confused and just don’t know how to celebrate our national day 🙂 🙂 🙂

    No one that caled himself Big Brother would have become famous over here back in the days, we all read the book, 1984, and just couldn’t combine that name with something good 🙂 🙂 But I have actually heard about him before but can’t say from where.

    Have a Happy 4th of July!

    • Bob Says:

      I don’t know if you Europeans can ever bury the hatchet and form some kind of workable political union. The EU as it is currently organized just can’t cut it. No one I work with in the UK even acknowledges the EU Parliament in Brussels. The Brits still use the pound sterling instead of the Euro and drive on the wrong side of the road.

      The Euro monetary experiment has been a failure because none of the members of the EU want to give up enough sovereignty to control the other members spending habits and set real monetary policy. I hope you all don’t have to go through a civil war, as we did in 1860, to establish the supremacy of a Federal Government. Lose confederations like the EU are doomed to failure.

      The original European Common Market was established to ensure that you guys would never go to war with each other again. You can’t go to war when companies like Airbus make aircraft parts in every country of the EU and assemble them in both France and Germany. Dear France, please hold off your invasion until we receive our shipment of engines for the Airbus A 380 aircraft, and we will need to order a hundred more 🙂

      • olof1 Says:

        Most of us Swedes see it the same way the people in Uk do. I can’t see that this will work as it does now. The EU is so far mosty a failiur and my guess is that it will fall apparts sooner or later.

        The Eu parliament is one of the most corrupt places You can find even though they do fight against corruption, or so they say 🙂
        The only thing one can hope is that when it falls it does so calm and quietly so that there won’t be a new war, we have a tendency to solve problems that way I’m afraid.

    • katry Says:

      It was in the 1950’s that Big Brother Bob Emery was on TV. It was during the Eisenhower administration when this was a country on the move after the war: houses being built, vets going to school, cars all over the road-a bustling but politically quiet country.

      July 4th, from the beginning, has been a day of celebration.

  6. Coleen Burnett Says:

    Happy Fourth Kat! Love Bob’s remarks. He is spot on!

    Waving a sparkler from Jersey…


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