I'll miss the hot dogs and pie this year. I'm postponing that menu till Labor Day. Chemo tomorrow, so there's not going to be any parade or barbecue for me either. That's OK. I have other priorities this year. So naturally, my mind is travelling backwards instead.
Fourth of July was "Dormont Day" in the town where I grew up. Dormont was our borough, a suburb in name only. We were for all intents and purposes part of the city of Pittsburgh, but formed sort of a buffer between the city and the nicer neighborhoods outside. The other school districts called us "greasers" and we called them "cake eaters." We joked that we usually lost the game, but alway won the fight afterwards.
|Thanks to Judi for this photo|
Then it was up the hill to the park for cook outs, lawn darts (the most horrifying and fun game in the world,) and pony league baseball where young men played like pros and little kids watched in awe behind the screen while the bad boys smoked under the bleachers along the first base line. You could walk down to the tennis courts on Memorial Drive, where the flagpole honoring World War I vets was, or you could go to the shady horse shoe pits where the old men tossed and cheered and cursed mildly (often in strange, Mediterranean tongues,) as their horse shoes arched through the air and landed in the soft clay or clanged on the stakes.
When the sun went down, the whole town seemed to gather on the big hill to watch the fireworks being shot from the pool parking lot. There were amazing aerials that went off right over your head, and ground displays that spun and crackled. It's a miracle that no one was ever killed. Then after the Grand Finale, everyone would gather up their blankets and walk back up the hill, (everyplace in Dormont was uphill,) laughing, greeting neighbors, and talking about how much better things had been the year before.
I'm sure it wasn't as beautiful as I remember it, but it was pretty darned nice.
There have been other Fourths. Summer nights on Lake Chautauqua. Drinking Rainier beer on Pismo Beach while the fire pit blazed and the rockets shot off into the Pacific night sky. Standing on Spike and Noah's roof on the Lower East Side watching the fireworks between the Twin Towers on my first summer in New York. Leaning back in my seat at the ball park, holding Mrs P close as young men with big dreams cracked homers over the left field bleachers. Beautiful nights.
But my Dormont Day memories are special. Probably as close to Norman Rockwell as a Pennsyltucky boy was ever likely to get. I sure am glad I got to be there.