Firecrackers and watermelon rinds

Published 8:01 pm Friday, June 30, 2023

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Delays at the airport; overcrowding at the beaches, traffic jams in the cities and Boston butts too expensive to buy.

That seems to been the state of affairs for Uncle Sam on July 4, 2023.

The rush to celebrate America’s independence is rather “new” to this nation that is celebrating its 247th year of freedom for all.

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There were times when the Fourth of July was celebrated with the simple posting of an American Flag at the doorway and the popping of a few firecrackers.

Having grown up in those simpler times, the Fourth of July is, for me continues to be hotdogs and potato salad and a hometown parade.

Most of us “senior citizens” probably don’t have memories of celebrating the Fourth at water parks, carnivals, concerts, baseball games and gigantic fireworks displays.

Our memories go back to simpler times when a pack of firecrackers and a box of sparklers were about as good as it got on the Fourth of July. If we were lucky enough, we might “shoot off” a Roman candle and, if we were brave enough, we would hold it in our hand while it shot the most amazing, blazing fireworks that could be imagined high into the night sky.

On the Fourth of July, around home, around mid-afternoon and, after our grandmother and granddaddy took their afternoon naps, Pop would cut a watermelon in long narrow strips called rashers. We, the young’uns, would eat the sweet, red meat out with our mouths, leaving only the rind, which was perfectly ship-shaped. We would hop on our bicycles with our watermelon rind boats and ride to Mims Creek and race them all afternoon in the cool, rushing water.

On the Fourth of July night, after our hotdog picnic supper, the grown-ups would go sit on the front porch and talk and /or listen to the radio.

We, the young’uns were left to pop firecrackers in the backyard … or in the chicken yard. We had the most fun scaring the feathers off the ol’ cluckin’ hens and the ol’ red rooster. Those are my childhood memories of the Fourth of July.

However, several years ago, I was flying home from Colorado on America’s Independence Day. From the window, far, far down, I could see fireworks being shot in cities and hamlets all across this great nation of ours. Some were fabulous displays, others, maybe, just kids scaring the feathers off chickens.  But, they were all Americans and they all had reason to celebrate… as we do; as we should, without rush but with heartfelt thankfulness that, after all, we still live in the greatest country on God’s great Earth.