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Fourth of July Writings: July 4th Memories

To me, the Fourth of July has always meant community spirit, family gatherings, my father bar-be-queing and fireworks. Althought my mother was principle chef of the family, my father was the grill master. One neighborhood friend would always come when my father was cooking on the grill, his frequent trips attesting to the tastiness of my father's cooking. He was an informal food tester who would end up staying for dessert also.

One year when I was about 10 years old, cousins came up from South Carolina for the Fourth of July. I had never met these people before in my life. There were the parents, some boys, and two girls, 10 and 12 years old. (At the time, boys were not important to me so I never asked their ages.) I was not exactly sure what to do with these female cousins whom I did not know. They were, after all, from the South and talked with and accent, so I really could not introduce them to the urban, sophistacated 10 and 12 year olds in my neighborhood. I also think that my female cousins did not know what to do with me either. In the beginning they whispered and stared at me a lot. Then my mother announced that they would sleep in my room and the boys would sleep in my brother's room, and I nearly choked. These strange people were invading my space. I did not say anything to my mother, but I thought it a lot.

Interestingly, over the next few days we all became fast friends. On the night of the Fourth, they announced they had brought some fireworks with them from the South and asked us if we could use them. My father, who was also the chief fireworks person, agreed. As was the custom in my neighborhood, everyone gathered together and communally watched the fireworks displays. When it was my family's turn, everyone was speechless. The fireworks from South Carolina were beautiful. There were lots of reds that framed the air like an opened parachute, a few blues that went way up in the sky before exploding into starry wonder, and several whites that whirled and twisted like chaotic comets. In addition, my cousin's parents brought with them lots of homemade food. There was delicious coconut cakes, pound cakes, chocolate cakes and fresh Southern Bar-be-que. Well, my father took the arrival of a new and different type of bar-be-que like areal man. In fact, he ate it so quickly that the informal neighborhood food tester never saw a bite of it. It was a great day, and a memorable one that ended like nice fireworks. With a flare, a touch of awe, and a good feeling of pride and contentment.

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