The first year I lived in Tennessee I was home alone on the Fourth of July, while Ed was working that night. I was sitting in the living room and saw out of the corner of my eye, a flash of color outside. I looked out on our back deck and saw fireworks coming from all directions! In Tennessee, unlike Massachusetts, everyone sets off fireworks in their back yards and in the street. I don't mean the odd bottle rocket or string of firecrackers we used to hear once in a while when I was a kid. These were big blasts and had huge colorful blooms, way up over head. I ran from window to window and out on the back deck to see everything. Our home was up on a hill and the deck sat way up high above a back yard that dropped off, making it seem as if I was right up there in the night sky. Off in the distance I could see professional fireworks going off in communities that surrounded us, way off in three different directions. Chattanooga knew how to celebrate Independance Day. It was like a wonderland to me. Again, so unexpected and I had nobody at home to share the experience with. I told Ed, from then on, no working OT on the Fourth of July!
My first recollection of fireworks was from the time I was 3 or 4 I would guess. They've been in my memory so long now, I can't be sure exactly when I first saw them. They were just a part of our lives. The Fourth of July was always a huge cause for celebration in my family. Maybe it was a patriotic thing, or maybe it was because my grandparents were married on the Fourth of July in 1921. Whichever came first, I don't know, but it was always a day that rivaled Christmas.
|My grandparents. Sorry it's so small.|
After the morning parade in our little town, followed by a huge cookout with family and close friends, we'd go to bed knowing that at some point, we'd be wakened and loaded into the car by our parents and brought to see the fireworks that were held at the center of town. As I recall, the fireworks were so well attended that they had two shows. An earlier show about 9:00 and another one around 11:00. I think we'd usually go to the late show. Or it just seemed really late to me. I remember parking on the side of the road, near the old town cemetery, still a little sleepy, but excited at the same time. I can still feel my slipper clad feet crunching in the gravel as we walked toward the Center School field, holding our mother's hand for fear we'd be lost in the crowd, all moving in the same direction. Once we located the Petersens and the Phelpses who had been at the cookout earlier in the day, my folks would spread out the brown and white beach blanket on the grass and we would all lie on our backs and look up into the sky and wait for the show to begin. And it never, never disappointed. The first one would take off, shooting up straight into the sky and explode brightly above us falling in a colorful bloom, and we wondered if it would fall on us! It was visually exciting like nothing else we ever experienced and the sound was delightfully deafening making our screams and oohs and ahs seem like whispers. As the show went on and the smoke began to billow around the horizon, the smell of the gun powder hit our noses and it was unique to that one night a year when being loud and up later than ever was not only allowed but encouraged. It was magical.
Like I said, it has been years since I have been to see fireworks. But last night Ed and I went to Mashpee with Kim and Bill and the little ones for some family fun and then the fireworks!
|First, a train ride. Toot Toot!|
|Darkness was beginning to fall. Better get back to the blanket for the fireworks! YaY!|
It's impossible for me to go to see a firework display without thinking of those days back in Sudbury, when my brother Chuckie and I, clad in jerseyed pajamas and slippers watched them from the beach blanket on the field. And to share the experience last night with my own grandchildren, just 2 1/2 and 1, was as exciting for me as those days in the 50s so long, long ago. I wonder if my parents or grandparents saw the fireworks through our eyes the way I saw them last night through Owen's and Lily's.
|After changing into jammies, and putting together the glow sticks and bracelets, everyone waits for the fireworks to begin.|
|Waiting for the fireworks with lots of glow "things".|
Lily talked about seeing them all day long, but when the fireworks actually began, she covered her ears, as we had suggested she might do, and then buried her head in her mommy's neck for most of the show. For some reason she wasn't really very happy about seeing them. However, Owen, was so excited and entranced that he couldn't take his eyes off them and watched every single one of them, reaching out trying to touch them as they fell to earth. The look of wonder on his face communicated how he felt more than words, which he doesn't have yet, could ever do. And Lily, near the end did turn around and watched the finale with as much delight as her little brother.
|Owen LOVED them. Lily was a little less enthusiastic at first.|
|Finally, Lily came around and with ears covered, watched the finale.|
As the smell of gunpowder filled the air and smoke filled the sky, we gathered up our chairs and blanket and headed back toward the car with the rest of the crowd, all 6 of us, kids again, with our own memories of fireworks in our heads. I can't wait for next year!