In the movie, The Little Rascals, Darla says, “When he sings, it makes my heart melt like a popsicle on the Fourth of July!” Darla, you’re so right, except what is heart melting is the holiday, and not a boy. If you live in the U.S., today is the Fourth of July, the national holiday celebrating our independence. Today melts my heart not only because it falls smack-dab in the middle of summer, meaning whether I’m outside or standing in front of my air conditioner, I’m sweating (my grandmother calls it glowing. ha!). Today also melts my heart because just like every other holiday, family or friends surrounds you and I. Below fireworks or in front of a barbeque, you take in the moment but also remember where you were, what state of mind you were in, and in my case, what you wore, one, two, five, or ten years ago. I’ve spent this holiday differently every year, which makes looking back even more fun. One year I was at Camp Highlander, one year I was studying at UCLA, and one year I was cruising from island to island in The Bahamas on my dad’s boat.
My most stand out Fourth of July memory is one when I was six, seven, eight – somewhere around there – years old. My dad owned a vintage fire truck – a 1954 America La France Cabriolet 500 gallon pumper. It originally came with a 12 cylinder Chrysler engine but he swapped it out for a Detroit diesel 6 cylinder. For many years, we participated a neighborhood parade. Early in the morning, my dad drove a buttload, and I mean a buttload, of kids around Idlewyld, the neighborhood where I grew up. My excitement for the parade started weeks before. School was out of session, I had nothing to do, and all I would think about for weeks was the holiday and what I was going to wear. The outfit I chose each year is long gone from my memory but I’m sure it was from either Gap or Limited Too and was paired with jelly sandals. Remember those?!? After the parade, my close friends at the time, Lizzie Lovern, Betsy Butler, or Lauren Herstik, and I, would just hang out, a word so foreign to me as a twenty-five-year-old with a day job, just like Roberta, Teeny, Samantha, and Chrissy did in Now and Then. Remember the scene where they’re playing Red Rover? “Red rover, red rover, send Roberta right over.” That’s Fourth of July to me.
For all you Americans, have a great holiday. I leave you with photos of my family “hanging out” during the summer.