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The Territorial Dispatch
June 26, 1996

It's only just over a week until the Fourth of July.

Although summer officially has just begun it's only just over a week until the Fourth of July. Thinking back it seems like the Fourth was always mid-summer and not really so close to the start of it. But just last week we experienced the first day of summer, aka the longest day of the year, and now the days will be getting shorter.

I've spent the Fourth of July in a lot of different places across the country... starting out in Pennsylvania.

Fireworks were not as readily available... or as controlled by law... in those days, and they were not nearly as fancy schmancy. Drive-in movies had big displays after the feature show and some communities would treat their citizens to a patriotic picnic by day and fireworks show at night.

Monaca, my hometown, is on the Ohio River. We would go to the town's waterworks to see fireworks and not only see those provided by our town but enjoy the displays from the towns across the big river.

When we started spending summers at Findley Lake, New York, some people would set off their fireworks at lakeside and others would go out in their boats and sit and watch the show along the shore. The volunteer fire department usually had a fund raising "fair" or "carnival" and would do fireworks after dark along the water's edge.

I missed fireworks activity in Laredo, Texas, the year No. 1 son was born on July 1st and the following year in Wichita, Kansas, when No. 2 son arrived on July 5th.

By the time I got to Topeka, fireworks were more available and families up and down the street bought boxes full of them and we would all sit out at night and watch each other celebrate. We did that here in Yuba City also.

The second year we were here we discovered the fireworks at Ellis Lake. It was really great and we were so impressed we went on and on about it to our friends who were stationed in Okinawa. When we found out that they would be arriving back in the states on the Fourth of July, the following year, we made arrangements to pick them up at the San Francisco airport around noon and they would attend the fireworks with us.

We built up the fireworks at Ellis Lake so much that they could hardly wait to collect their baggage and head up here to see them. After stopping for dinner at the Nut Tree we headed for Yuba City and a stop at home so they could change into cooler clothes and walking shoes. We got to Marysville in the middle of the traffic jam before the celebration but finally found a place to park several blocks away.

Half running, half walking we got to the lake in time for the first big booms and flashes of fireworks. The sky lit up and the noise was like thunder. It was glorious. It went on at that pace for about five minutes and then all was dark and quiet. People waited in hushed silence for the next volley... but it never came. The word spread out among the crowd that a mishap had occurred and the entire supply of fireworks had gone up in the first five minutes.

The promised gigantic display was over. Needless to say we've never heard the end of it about the "absolutely wonderful fireworks celebration" in Marysville!

Another memorable part of Fourth of July fireworks is what to do when you have pets who don't appreciate the big booms.

A couple of years ago I wrote this limerick about my big dog, Molly.

Dog-On Fourth of July
The FOURTH is a Holiday of noise
(A particular favorite of boys)
With a match from a pocket
They can set of a rocket
That, peace and tranquility, destroys

My dog is half Lab and half Saint
A retriever for hunters... she ain't
At a firework's first clap
She heads for my lap
And trembles until she can faint

Fireworks are a symbol of Freedom
(The explosives are there... if we need 'em)
But aggressions collapse
With big dogs in our laps
If we all stay home just to feed 'em!

Quote of the Week: I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
--Francis Bellamy,1892
Youth's Companion Magazine

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