Looking For Home

Mary Jane and I were talking about Fourth of July’s in our past.

We both commiserated that we seldom had firecrackers as they were illegal in Illinois for as long as we can recall.

We both liked the meager substitutes of ‘snakes’ or ‘sparklers’ and were more than a little excited when one of our friends had, illegal and dangerous, firecrackers…not to mention…M80’s.

At my home we sought to find the spot…from our house…where we could see the Eldorado fireworks at the Starlight Drive Inn.  We quickly discovered that we had to go to Grandma Askew’s…where you could see them…pretty good.

At one of these 4th gatherings, my aunt Guelda’s friend from Holland, Yoop, gave me a simply delicious piece of chocolate that was made in Holland and it was fashioned in the shape of a wooden shoe.

I would like to have another piece of the exotic coco…up until and including…this very day!

My stepfather, Earl, enjoyed a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, but I never observed him drink one until the time that he was helping us remodel our rest room in our little four room house in Elkville, Illinois and he subsequently became so frustrated that he began hitting the floor, in extreme anger, and exclaimed that, ‘he was not going to be able to complete the job…as he was just getting too old!’  Mary Jane went to DuQuoin to purchase some beer for Earl…but he refused to drink any with us.

The next time that we visited Earl and Mom’s home in Eldorado…we observed that he had a plentiful stock of Pabst, in the bottle,  on hand…and he did so thereafter for the rest of his life.

We visited our family in Salem, Illinois for many July 4th’s.  One year is was so cold that we all needed sweaters and blankets.

July Fourth is a celebration of freedom and home and country.

Many of my July 4 celebrations come from times when my Mom and I were going it alone.  We were poor.  But we had a roof over our heads and food to eat.  Mom was taking adult education classes to become a photographer.  I had nice schools, in Eldorado, to attend.  I had clothes to wear, from P.N. Hirsch department store and there was a gift or two for Christmas…and Laughing Santa.

Some citizens of our nation…would like to experience the childhood that I had and the easy and readily available Independence Day enjoyments that I took for granted. Parents would like for their children to be able to attend a good school.

They would like to enjoy a picnic or a block party and have no fear that their celebration of freedom of thought and speech and country…would be misunderstood.

Where I came from…there was some dignity…for the poor.  There were a lot of working class people in our town.  When the celebration of our country’s independence rolled around each summer…it was blistering hot…and we poor folks had no air conditioning and we celebrated, shoulder to shoulder and cheek to jowl, with our financial betters…because we knew that the Fourth of July was for all of us.

‘One Flag, One Land, One Heart, One Hand, One Nation Evermore!’   Oliver Wendell Holmes

‘With freedom comes responsibility.’    Eleanor Roosevelt

‘From Every Mountainside, Let Freedom Ring.’    Martin Luther King

‘Let’s enjoy this 4th of July by eating foods that would terrify our forefathers.’

‘remember kids, don’t play with fireworks.  Have the adults who have been drinking all day set them off.’

‘Isn’t it Funny How Red, White, and Blue Represent Freedom…Until They’re Flashing Behind You.’

Today we celebrate at Aaron’s house!  He is grilling hamburgers and brawts and Mom has made baked beans and pie and peanut butter cookies and Jonathon has purchased exotic beer…and I will be there…too!





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