Saturday, July 4, 2009

A simpler time

My fondest memories of Independence Day were the family get-togethers which would always happen on this holiday.

My grandmother and grandfather and uncle and aunt all lived within five houses of us out in “the country.” (“Country,” in this case, indicated the larger lots which we had while all around us were farms of significant size.)

My grandfather owned the ice plant in town—the place where townspeople would come during the time when “ice box” was the kitchen appliance which evolved into today’s refrigerator. He also sold cold beverages and summer fruits out of this huge, walk-in cooler which held the coldest bottled soda in town.

Each year, grandpa would come to our family gathering after working a long day at the plant on what typically would be his busiest day of the year. When he arrived he usually had two ice-cold, sweet-as-sugar watermelons under each arm, grinning and chuckling as he walked up to our outdoor barbecue and picnic.

One year, my dad and uncle ordered a huge box of fireworks from a mail-order place. This was before ordering online and even toll-free numbers. Dad and my uncle mailed in their form for a huge box of sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and fountains. We had all waited in anticipation, knowing that this would be the best fireworks display ever. Eventually, the two brothers were setting off fireworks simultaneously--they had not calculated on the volume of fireworks that they would receive coupled with the short attention spans of all of us.

Time seemed so simple then. A sweet watermelon, my grandmother's fried chicken, a warm summer night and fireworks which were allowed in backyards. I miss those times but relish those memories.

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