It's July 3rd--The Night To Be A Foe!!
Some young family member--I can't remember who-- called July 3rd "the night to be a foe" when a small child. It became a phrase that has defined July 3rd in our family lexicon for decades.
Fireworks displays were an integral part of the iconic summer seasons of my 1950s youth. These yearly displays were sometimes held on the night before the 4th. Many still are today as evidenced by the local list in Sonoma County California-- albeit as more involved events with food, music and fun determined by an entrance fee rather than the simpler walk with family to an advantageous viewpoint for the lightshow.
After a cook-out with my grandparents, we walked down our drive in the dusky deepening dark and crossed Massachusetts Avenue. From there we followed Green Street crossing Waverly Road down a pocked asphalt path to an old wide defunct bridge. Composed of tarred old railroad ties, it spanned a body of water whose name escapes but may have been the Shawsheen River. This part of the excursion was both exciting and scarey as one could see dark, moving water through the cracks in the old blackened wood and the bridge had no side rails.
The noisy displays began when the sky was dark enough to showcase their gaudy brillance. Standing on the outskirts of the stadium in South Lawrence, we would "ooh and ahh" as they lighted the night sky with color and movement. It's odd how clearly my mental image is of the stadium with its concrete bleacher seats and its specific location remains after all the intervening years of travel and living elsewhere.
When the show was done, we walked companionably home to the "house that Jack built" with aunts and sometimes cousins. We always stayed closer to the adults as we crossed back over the old bridge in the dark for the return home mindful of the moving water below the blackened ties. As far as I have been able to determine that bridge has passed into history and no longer exists like so many other life touchpoints as one ages.
Fireworks displays were also a part of our summers at the beach. They signaled the conclusion of the summer season on Labor Day weekend, their night sky colors reflected over the Atlantic Ocean as we sat in the still warm sand, wrapped in blankets.
For many folks, the season of iconic American summer arrives with July 4th celebrations. This entire week will be peopled with barbeques, beach scenes, baseball and July 4 parades, images of human fun and frolic. Cats will hide under beds and dogs run around and howl at the noises. Families will gather on town greens as our country celebrates the events of 1776, our heros and our patriots.
Happy birthday, America.
**These copyrighted iconic fireworks photographs are the work of Philip Case Cohen of Portsmouth, NH. His stunning images document Portsmouth NH wonderfully and can be found here: http://thedailyportsmouth.com/tag/philip-case-cohen/