Some of my earliest memories are of the 4th. Being caught in a jangle of Adult legs at a jam-packed 4th of July Fireworks Celebration at Edgewater Park in the early Sixties. Walking then running, in fear of being too late, racing down there from our place on W114th. Hurrying past those huge shadowy Mansions on Edgewater. Just knowing a witch probably lived in one of them all alone and all scary. (looking back now I’m sure a few of those old society dames could have qualified! At least as dragons.)
In my adolescent years we would drive out to my Aunt Anne’s and Uncle Eddie’s place in Geneva, Ohio. They had settled on the Family farm initially to take care of my Great Grandmother and then with a brood of children stayed there. It was wonderful. The 4th then became a family reunion all day long cousins from all over would find their way to Anne and Eddie’s place and just sit back and relax. Piles of food, the ongoing ball game at the backstop that Uncle Ed had built. And always enough cousins, Aunts and Uncles for a pick up game, although it’s fair enough to say usually it was just the cousins, the Uncle’s were busy talking and laughing and holding down lawn chairs and the Aunts and wives and Mom’s were busy putting out the food. Potato Salad, always baked beans, hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, tons of macaroni salad, deviled eggs. And every dessert known to man….literally the tables were groaning. So after the ball games and volleyball games, (god, Red Shannon…do you remember how that man could jump!) I’d swear he could have played professional ball. My cousin Judy’s husband was a natural a phenom.
Then long about sunset there would be talk of driving someplace to see the fireworks and sometimes a few would go but most would stay out there on the farm, just watching the sunset. And suddenly, night would fall and we’d be outside playing hide and go seek in that Inky blackness with no street lights. I can still remember just how it seemed to get louder and wilder with the downing of the sun, but when full night came on it got downright loud. Crickets, frogs, katydids, the buzzing of insects…it was a symphony out there. I can remember running and shooting for the light coming from the screen door off the kitchen trying to get inside the old farmhouse, but the sheer mass of bugs that had been attracted to the light threw me off, I couldn’t screw up my courage to ford that cloud of bugs. Cripes there were Moths as big as me. So I went round to the front of the house where the insect traffic at the porch light wasn’t so fierce, and I ducked in, as I did they yelled “don’t let any moths in in!”, like I had a choice, these guys were big enough to carry ME in for cripes sake. Then somebody would start making fudge and another would talk about time to get back to Cleveland and there we be floating along the Shoreway screaming, ” I see the milk bottle ! I see the milk bottle! We’d be at the Westinghouse Curve on the Shoreway looking up at that old Neon lit up Dairyman’s Milk bottle being poured into a glass 24/7. Next stop home. All safe, all fed and all ready closing another year on our childhood calender with “the 4th of July Reunion”, the best of summertime memories, a reunion with our cousins The Rauckhorsts, the best.