Hello all, and Happy 4th of July!! I thought I’d take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about past 4th of July experiences and traditions.
WHEN WE WERE KIDS
I remember as kids how exciting it was when the 4th of July was near. We would save our allowances up to buy smoke bombs, black snakes etc. We always got extra money to buy a package of fireworks that included fountains, pinwheels, sparklers, etc. I remember the fountains were always my mom’s favorites.
My dad taught us how to take a pair of pliers and squeeze a Piccolo Pete at the second “C” on the Piccolo. This allowed the Pete to whistle for a minute, but then it was cut short and then a big “BANG” ensued like a pretty heavy-duty firecracker. This was under his supervision, of course.
One of mine and my brother’s, all time, favorites was our “Bangsite” miniature cannons. We would by a big tube-like container of “Bangsite” which was pretty much gun powder. You had a little scooper in a flint mechanism that you would load in the back of the cannon and twist on. You would push in the button and it would fire a loud BANG. It didn’t take us long to figure out several scoops would make a much larger BANG!!! Did I mention that we didn’t have bicycle helmets then, front car seats did not lock into place and flopped forward if you were leaning on them, from the back seat, when the car came to an abrupt stop.
Our chemistry sets had real chemicals, Seat belts were an option and a luxury, creepy crawly stuff we made with “goop” came with a real “oven” instead of a cheap light bulb for heat, wood burning sets came with an iron that could easily give a kid a third degree burn. I could go on and on. I don’t know how we made it through those times!
AS YOUNG ADULTS
We usually found a party at someone’s house who had a view of the fireworks over commencement bay. Sometimes we would go camping. Sometimes we would go to the park with the lighthouse in Northeast Tacoma (Brown’s Point). At this stage, we were all about having a good time and finding out where to go to have it. We bought firecrackers and M-80’s and the heavy-duty bottle rockets at the “reservations”. We were kind of stupid but we had fun.
A DATE WITH MY FUTURE WIFE
The 4th of July has always been a fun Holiday for me (except for having to worry about my dogs), but one year was particularly special. This was the day I had one of my first dates with my future wife, Beth. We were planning to go out on the Sound with a mutual friend (the guy who introduced us). He had a sailboat and we had planned to go out with him.
The weather was mostly cloudy that day with patches of sun. Beth and I are both sun lovers and we watched the sky all day, longing for extended periods of sun. Our friend with the sailboat was not the most reliable and we ended up not going out on the Sound with him that day (and the sun rarely made an appearance). Instead, we hung out at my house, in the yard. We enjoyed a beautiful day getting to know each other and watching the sky and praying for sun. We decided to go up to the store and get some steaks to throw on the barbecue for dinner. It was a wonderful day and the start of something very special.
In later years, we would buy our own boat and go out on the Sound on the 4th highlighted by a spectacular air show with a “hover Jet” hovering very close to us and performing several maneuvers!
When I had settled down, and Beth and I got married, and purchased a house, I got back into the more traditional 4th of July’s. Not that we still didn’t have fun times partying! One particular year we decided to host a party. We owned a house in the north end of Tacoma near Point Defiance. It had a pretty good view of Commencement Bay towards Vashon Island from our deck. This was back when The Taste of Tacoma was held at Point Defiance simultaneously with The Freedom Fair. We invited several friends and had a great time barbecuing, playing badminton, drinking some beers and wine, and just having a lot of fun.
Friends were constantly coming and going from our place to the taste to the Freedom Fair. It was within walking distance so there were a lot of fun options. I remember that as being one of my favorite fourth of July’s. Beth’s family had a tradition of making homemade ice cream, so we did that too.
We also started a new tradition. While listening to The Eagles live CD “Hell Freezes Over”, the words to “The Last Resort” coincided (we thought) with the 4th and America in general. There are different ways to interpret this song, when you listen to it, but it seemed to describe the way America is (in some ways-whether good or bad). You can listen for yourself and see what you think. Anyway, from then on, we are sure to play that song every year on the fourth of July (several times).
We still have a lot of fun on the 4th of July. We still have barbecues on our patio. Still have friends and family over in the afternoon. Still listen to “The Last Resort”, and still do a few fireworks. We now like to be home when all the fireworks start going off at night. We want to make sure our home is safe, going to the Freedom Fair occasionally (except this year of course). Our favorite fireworks are fountains and we both still like smoke bombs. We can see the big fireworks on Henderson Bay from our upper back deck (a different house and a different part of the bay) and we still enjoy the sunny afternoons and the beautiful memories and traditions we have discovered along the way.