by Bob Sparrow
Norman Rockwell attended our annual 4th of July gathering. Yes, I know he’s been dead since 1978, but I’m sure he’s there in spirit every year. Let me explain. First, I’m fortunate enough to be part of an incredible neighborhood – hereafter referred to as ‘the ‘hood’ (pictured below), that knows how to celebrate this great occasion. Second, thankfully Independence Day has, for the most part, escaped the crass commercialism that tarnishes most of our other national holiday celebrations. Perhaps it’s because we still think it incredible what a cadre of very courageous young men did to create this amazing country.
For the 25th year in a row the ‘hood has started the 4th of July with a softball game on the local high school field. This year, like all the rest, the festivities officially opened with Sharon Hendrix, dress as Uncle Sam, playing a recording of our National Anthem, with each of the teams lined up on the first and third base lines, singing along. At the end, a chorus of “Play ball” rang out. In the late 80s and through the 90s it was fathers and mothers against son and daughters, where the parents made sure the kids won. The next few years we didn’t have to make sure they won, it was pretty even, and then . . . I’d like to say the ‘kids’, now in their teens and 20s, made sure the parents won, but they pretty much kicked our butts. This year we finally mixed the teams and the kids basically played against each other while the parents tried to get out of the way of those screaming line drives.
Those in the Hood who chose not to play would find a seat on the grass under an elm tree and cheer on the participants and catch up on the latest gossip in the ‘hood. After the game we’d usually adjourn to the Sullivan house for a spirited game of horseshoes, however this year Rick said his pits were in bad shape (I sat next to him at the BBQ and I can vouch for that!).
By late afternoon we’d make our way to the ‘host house’ in the ‘hood, this year the Michael’s, for a barbeque of brats and brisket, with everyone (ok, the women) bringing a side dish. The Michael’s had decorated the back yard in red, white and blue and had patriotic music playing over their outdoor speaker system as we watch the Angel, on the TV at their outside bar, pull out a dramatic 9th inning victory over the Cardinals.
A day of baseball, barbecue, beer and brotherhood -it doesn’t get any better than that! Toward the end of the evening, I read the Declaration of Independence aloud. I was told by many afterward that they were expecting me to create my own, less-than-serious version of this document, and although I did interject, after the list of heinous things King George III did to provoke this declaration, that he seemed like a real bastard, I was not going to lampoon this sacred document. At the conclusion of the reading, the Bauaschis, our only British-born American citizen, were offered equal time, but respectfully declined.
As the day came to a close, we heard the bombs bursting in air around the ‘hood and hoped that 4th of July revelers everywhere truly understood the importance of this day. I think Norman Rockwell and our founding fathers would be proud of the ‘hood’s annual celebration. I know I was. I think we all felt very proud and very lucky to be part of such a great neighborhood and such a great country.
A tip of our Uncle Sam hat to those “Hood-lums” that couldn’t join us this year: Richard & Reta Wade, Mike & Tanis Nelson,Don & Gale Avril, Randy Davis, Shelly Davis and Danna Campbell.
And we lite a sparkler to the “Hood-alums”, those who have moved away: Steve & Carolyn Seeley, Jim and Pat Crandall, Helmet & Sheila Nittmann, Tim & Carol Scovel and Dave & Sharon McKinley.
SUBSCRIPTION SALE: FREE FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS.
SUBSCRIBERS: PASS ALONG TO A FRIEND AND GET THEM TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG – LOTS OF FUN STORIES PLANNED FOR THE SUMMER!
NON-SUBSCRIBERS: SUBSCRIBE FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!