Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day

Donis here, wishing all you American Dear Readers a lovely Independence Day.  I no longer make much of a deal about the Fourth of July.  We usually have hot dogs and potato salad for lunch, then watch Will Smith save the world from an alien invasion.  If we hear booming noises coming from nearby Kiwanis Park, we may go out into the back yard and catch a bit of the fireworks display.  These days, we observe the Fourth more out of a sense of nostalgia than patriotic fervor.  When I was a kid, my dad bought enough fireworks to blow up Baghdad, and we'd go out into the back yard after dark and grill burgers and dogs, shoot Roman candles, write our names in the air with sparklers, shoot off strings of firecrackers.  Maybe we were just lucky, but nobody ever put out an eye or burned down the house.  Don, who lived in a more rural area, remembers that his dad dug a pit behind the house every year and built a bonfire, and he and his many siblings would roast anything that could be poked onto a stick.  I've often thought this is some long forgotten Irish tradition handed down over the generations in his family.

I've had some interesting Fourths in my time.  I was in Florence, Italy, on July 4, 1969, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  My friend and I watched the whole thing on a tv in the lobby of our hotel.  All day, random Italians kept coming up to us and congratulating us for being Americans.  

In 1976, the Bicentennial, we were living in Lubbock, Texas.  We joined the crowd downtown that day and watched a parade so big that it took two hours to pass.  There were more citizens in the parade than watching the parade, I think.  Local businesses were giving away free food - red, white, and blue cake, lemonade, and hot dogs.  I was nearly trampled by the mob trying to get free hot dogs, but I persevered and managed to grab a couple.  When I got back to Don, somehow one of my hot dogs had been torn in half.  I gave him the whole one and ate the half myself, because I was worried about my weight.  I had recently gone up to 112 pounds.

I'm not forgetting Canada Day, either.  One year after the hot dog incident, we landed in Montreal on July 1, after spending a year in Europe, and thought for a minute they were having a big party just for our benefit.  We came back from Tilbury, England, on a Polish ocean liner, the Stefan Batory.  We spent five days crossing the ocean, and three days sailing up the St Lawrence seaway to Montreal. If you will remember, Poland was a Communist country in 1977, so every night the movie in the ship's theatre was something that showed the dangers of Western capitalist decadence.  At least it was cheap. We eased back into the Western Hemisphere by lingering three lovely days in Montreal, then taking a long train trip back to Oklahoma.  We crossed into the United States on July 4.

I spent July 4, 2005, getting ready for the launch of my first book, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming.  That was four years and four books ago, and feels like decades.

Since this blog is supposed to be about the writing life, I'll also mention that I'm going to be participating in Bookfest in the West at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ, at 7 p.m. on July 17. Ken Kuhlken, Priscilla Royal, and Yours Truly will be there to talked about the art and science of writing historical mystery novels.  Come by if you're in the neighborhood.  It should be fun.  Check out the whole Bookfest in the West schedule at www.poisonedpen.com  


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