Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, America

From all of us here at Our Generation Radio: Happy Fourth of July to you and ours. We will celebrate with our annual July 4th show from 7 until 9 PM Eastern Time featuring music that celebrates the birthday of our great nation.

July Fourth Holidays were big deals for my family when I was growing up. Mom would pack up hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, soda pop and the fixin's . Dad would gather the charcoal, cooking utensils inner tubes, floats, towels and the kids; then we would all head out to the state park for the celebration. When we arrived, one of my uncles would already be there with his family. He would have claimed a couple of those public grills that the state of Florida put everywhere. They looked like parking meters but, instead of a meter at the top of the pole, there was a cast iron hibachi sized grill. Those things were sturdy. I swear one of them could have serviced as an anchor to the Titanic.

Pretty soon, the hot dogs and hamburgers were grilling and my cousins and I were out in the lake working up an appetite the size of America itself. Pretty soon, we were all making wet places on the picnic table seats with our dripping bathing suites as we wolfed down the food and happily shared with each other what we had been doing so far that summer. There is nothing in this world that can compare gastronomically with that midsummer meal. It just says "Happy Fourth of July!"

After lunch and the obligatory hour long wait, we were back in the water swimming, playing water volley ball and in general scaring all the wildlife for miles surrounding the lake. By now the sun was at its hottest and our Moms would be slathering suntan lotion on us. Back then it was not called sun screen. We didn't know about the dangers of sunburn or Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Coppertone was the rage back then and the goal was not to protect us from the sun but to get us an even dark tan. We all smelled like bananas and coconuts. Our moms knew that if we got sunburned we would not sleep well for nights. Try as they might, sometimes their efforts were in vain and we would turn a rosy pink. When the pain set in, we would get cranky. Good old Mom had a home remedy for that too; vinegar, and lots of it. When applied in the summer heat, vinegar is ice cold but it soothed the pain of mild sunburns even as it made us all smell like salads.

As the sun set on another glorious Fourth of July, Dad would break out the fireworks. Sparklers, roman candles and firecrackers lit up the summer evening. They let the kids run on the lakeshore with the sparklers as the older folks fired the roman candles out over the lake and set off the firecrackers on the edge of the water. As we got older, the kids were allowed to handle the more dangerous fireworks. Those were simpler times, happy times, family times, when we gathered to celebrate the birth of our nation, family style. Oh MY!

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