Fourth Of July….
Too many years ago in a place called Plandome on Long Island’s North Shore, The Fourth was in a word, idyllic. This little burgh of a few hundred families sported the Plandome Field and Marine Club. Lest you think of double breasted blazers, yachting caps and white shoes you have it all wrong. Indeed they were commuters to the canyons of Wall Street or the madness of Madison Avenue but here there was a place of repose and tranquility without airs.
On the “day” we had red white and blue crepe rolls woven between the spokes on our bikes. On the Village Green we had races and games, a fire hose fight and you could blow your brains out with cold sodas and Good Humor ice cream. All free! Afternoon softball and more pop with the volunteer firemen gave way to fireworks down on the bay. Of course we had an ample supply of M80’s, Ash Cans, cherry bombs and one and two inchers. Life was good.
I hope they still have that tom foolery. There were no warning labels. No helmets. Just good clean fun. In those 60 or so years I have seen a lot of variations on the them as we celebrate our nation’s birthday. We have commercialized and sanitized. Hot dogs have become a culinary specialty to see who can more creative and cosmopolitan in preparation. Hey it’s a frankfurter for God’s sake! Time marches on.
But I do think about this concept of independence. We declared it and I guess we go along with the program even today. Back then people just wanted to be left alone to do their own thing. No kings or queens. A full house was made of logs and the frontier was your front yard. But that new found freedom was oh so precious. You thought everyday about how neat this was even if the vagaries of indians, outlaws and nature put a rein on your enthusiasm. Our forefathers for sure were for state’s rights and maybe that further filtered down to town’s rights too.
Freedom also comes to mind. No restraint, be it physical or psychological. It could be a jail cell or a thumb. Either way we just want to be us. But if we all did our own thing literally there would be chaos. So we have to have laws but keep them simple. Every man for himself but in a bind we will all band together. But there is responsibility in this liberation. I hold the only reason we have more laws is because people are constantly trying to beat the system. Shortcuts or malfeasance? It doesn’t matter. In this case we need to be vigilant and probably more dedicated to the concept than we care to be.
We have lost our agrarian spirit as we head to the cities. We have lost a bit of that fraternal friendship. That survival outlook. We now are willing to let things be. Don’t rock the boat. We even acquiesce either by failure to fight or just a simple acceptance of status quo. We hold our beliefs whether they are good or bad. We just take what is dished out because it is just easier.
Don’t get me wrong. We are not the first to do this but somehow slavery has taken on many different mantels. Sure there was the scourge of the image of a poor black being sold as a piece of property. I can’t even begin to imagine it. No hope. No future. Just massah. But maybe it goes on. Your job, your lot in life, your parents or maybe even your spouse. Drugs,booze, sex. Maybe massahs come in all shapes and sizes. What about our thoughts and prejudices? Are we all bound by some crazy thing called ideology or even a warped sense of loyalty? Dunno.
I watch a thing called ISIS or Al Quaeda and wonder how this all got started? Looks like these people just gave up. It is fascinating that their few hundred in number overcome thousands of well armed and theoretically well trained troops. Even this nitwit could figure it out after ten years of training. But for so many the desire just wasn’t there. Their freedom was just not that important or perhaps that had grown lazy and complacent. Bad recipe for a prosperous life.
I ask people about this or that topic that relates to our livelihood or future as a country. Many look at me blankly and say “Why should I give a shit?” Others will ramble on about Obama or the Supreme Court or Congress as a whole. Just insert the tape and hit rewind. Their act and ergo independent thought is just the same as it was ten years ago. But this world, our country and our individual states and towns are changing at warp speed. We can be lazy or a slave or even a lazy slave. Or we can get our ass in gear.
When we went to the Baltic last fall I particularly remember our trip to Estonia. We took a city and mountain bike tour. Both our guides were young and beyond enthusiastic. They were so hopeful and yet afraid. Their newfound independence from Russia was constantly being threatened by Putin. Yet their eyes sparkled when they spoke of their country. I wonder how many of ours do?
TTG, what a bummer you are. I just want play golf and come home and grill a couple of steaks. Watch the fire works and enjoy a long weekend. Why do you have to ruin it? Sorry, I have always been a rebel of sorts. Happy Independence Day. I hope you are.
Ted The Great
Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the Fourth of July. Calvin Coolidge was born on it.
$695 million will be spent on fireworks this year. $3.6 million will be spent on flags. $3.5 million of those will be made in China.
68% of homes will feature a barbecue of some sort. We will eat 150 million hot dogs. Joey Chestnut owns the record by downing 54 of those babies in 10 minutes.
In a salute to independence Salem used to set off bonfires stoked with old barrels in competition with neighboring towns. The stacks were 40 tiers high. They cheated. They used to burn witches too.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pur(1743–1826)